Sunday 8th November - Day 4
Late start on account of needing to exercise the body alongside the brain. Windsor Great Park was resplendent – I don’t think I’ve ever used the word resplendent before, but it kind of describes the joy one feels when presented with autumn to winter colours. The ochres and umbers, mixed in with a spray of evergreens were a balm to eyes weary from staring at a screen. The many and varied forms of wildlife, too, were pleasantly calming.
Yesterday evening, the story came to me. I was sitting in front of the television, watching without watching, and my mind wandered. Was it the beige fodder on offer – the current diet is somewhat less than inspiring – or was it thought, fertile and uncontainable, forced like molten lava up from the depths of a recently stirred imagination? Or perhaps it was simply that I realised I needed to decide which story to tell and where it should be headed. Stories, I have learned since I started writing in earnest back in 2011, evolve in this manner. They begin with one direction and gradually, the deeper one descends into the pages, a more engaging, more relevant, more meaningful and more rounded project appears. A premise stands out, plans take shape and a plot comes together; though I dislike the word plot, it’s so unattractive, so unemotional. Only when these issues are attended to can I progress or know the direction in which I need to be travelling. This is natural and organic, and born not only of creating the characters I am now beginning to know intimately, but also characters I want to succeed. Today proved a good day, a key day. I have made mistakes – I know it – and written myself into a little bit of a corner, but days like these must not be allowed to get in the way of progress: I’ll bypass the problems for now and solve them later.
One school of thought encourages a writer to commence his second novel immediately he finishes his first; for having another project to apply one’s energy to softens the disappointment of rejection at the hands of agents and publishers. It is a critical point in a writer’s journey and putting the pen down at such a juncture can be fatal, so fatal in fact that many aspiring writers never pick it up again. I relied on this motivation when writing Boarding House Reach. What began as a number of character studies rapidly developed into the basis of a novel. Stella, Audrey, Philip, Phoebe and Hacker grew to become my friends and accomplices in persevering through countless and continuous rejections: they softened the blows, blunted the arrows and helped me dodge the boulders of my doubt. For getting me through that challenging period, I thank them. After all, what are friends for if not to help you through the tough times?
Ciao. Until tomorrow.