All Writers Are Mad

Last night’s blog experiment actually worked!

It’s incredible. I talked myself out of the problem. I was then awake till stupid-o’clock this morning writing, but that’s better than not writing at all.

I recommend Procrastination-Therapy to all creative people stuck.

So last night I bashed out the ‘cut-out’ of a chapter which was formally 8, and the ‘moving it’ to become chapter 10. It took a little rejigging.

I had this whole bit where it was coming up to half-term holidays and there was a rush to use the school computers. I think it’s a hang over from another time; that and my addiction to Buffy… But then I had a rather obvious solution; smart phones. Why couldn’t Crystal be in the Hobbit-type-hole AND be researching using 3G?

So I’ve moved that plot point to be set in the Hobbit-hole and actually it provides a much better backdrop for the conversation. It’s also the meeting of two VERY different worlds, which I love; lots of chance for humour.

Humour is harder to plan than you might think. So when an opportunity presents itself you have to grab it by the proverbial-balls. Looking forward to writing that!

I then had an issue with time passing. Actually that’s something I struggle with generally.

To me, it’s easy to write something serial without large gaps of time. In this book there is a three month passage of time. Necessary purely because of the setting/backdrop. Last night’s musing allowed me to understand what would happen during that passage of time; the answer is: not much. But that gap allows for some domesticity which is something that I sort of revel in in this novel.

The little passages set at breakfast or dinner etc are some of my favourites. There is a time and place for chatting whilst doing the dishes, and there is a time for evil talking squirrels.

As an author, the passage of time does throw up some problems. For me, I tend to structure set-pieces that I write towards. For example, this book has a big Halloween set-piece. It is going to be a joy to write; I cannot wait for that! But more than that, it will look brilliant in your head.

However, to get there I have to travel through October. Right now in the narrative it is September. I don’t want to get too specific, but it’s the 22nd. This is because I want to reference the Autumn Equinox in this chapter; a time for reflection, to breathe deeply and thank the Goddess for food enough for winter. The theme of looking back and forward is a lovely touch for this part of the novel; it really is the end of one Crystal and the start of another.

So after chapter 9 there is a month until the next set-piece. During this month a couple of cool things are planned to happen, but those things need to bridge this gap in time. Sometimes as an author you can spend hours, if not days, thinking about these things. It’s as if my mind needs to understand everything implicitly before putting fingers to keys.

This can of course drive you mad. All writers are mad. And it can be maddening too. When you really want to write but you need to figure out why Crystal would be listening to that song, or using that pen, or eating that chocolate…

And then there are times when you revel in the creation-part.

Just today I went back and did my second pass at chapter 9 and created something completely new that I didn’t know I needed and now I LOVE AND CAN’T BELIEVE IT WASN’T PLANNED UNTIL NOW.

Now that chapter really sings. And the adrenaline from that creation spurred me on to basically finish the chapter, which is what I did today.

I’m so glad that Crystal needed a lantern to see the squirrel she was talking to… (Oof! I’m a tease!)

Sometimes little things like a source of light are just left out. I’m glad that I have some common sense in there somewhere that realised it’s night time; how will she see that the squirrel was talking. Because you’d need to see it, right? Otherwise you wouldn’t believe it was happening.

So today was a success.

Earlier on I wrote about my ‘second pass at the chapter’ and I think I need to explain that. Usually, I write a chapter with descriptions and speech but it ends up being quite basic. My second pass is where I add the colour; the heart of it appears on my second pass. And I have to keep reminding myself that this is my process. I often feel downhearted after writing the first pass, as if the story feels flatter than it did in my head. As if I’m not a good enough writer to realise the story on paper.

I think we all doubt ourselves.

And I have to push myself to do the second pass because otherwise I will leave the chapter without heart and when I return to it a week-or-so later, I will feel like it isn’t good enough and that it will take too much to put right. Delete. Total re-think of whole book. Start again.

All writers are mad.

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