Just a scant few months ago I was just another aspiring writer, somewhat ahead having at least a finished manuscript. I did not yet have a respectable number of rejections and was therefore unprepared for the publishing offer which appeared, like a Djinn from a bottle. I approached the offer as cautiously as a bubble collector. Even now, having signed contacts and launched social media pages and re-read my words until I developed a Pavlovian distemper towards them, there is a feeling of unreality. My characters have moved on and are busy adventuring through the next phase of their lives and although I have attempted to keep up with their travels, there is this feeling of it all having happened to someone else. As if I had actually written the entire episode in a book about my own life.
Last night my most esteemed and excellent writers group listened to a lovely talk in our local library by Professor Peter Roennfeldt author of Madame Mallalieu, an accomplished and remarkable musician of early Queensland. We were bold enough to ask him if he would like to stay and chat with our group, as it was our usual meeting night. He told us that his own relationship with his book was one where although he felt like it was a child of his mind he did not have any desire to read it. I understood completely. As much as I have loved my characters I do not wish to read their tale again - it's a little like listening to Great Aunt Millicent's story number 26 about how she had an interesting experience on the train as a young girl travelling in central Bulgaria. The first few times it's charming and interesting, after about the tenth time you start to check your texts under the table.
Now all I have to do is wrestle the Facebook and Twitter button on here so they link through and this job will be done.
I wonder what Maximillian and Charlotte are up to?
We are all alone in our thoughts, perhaps except for those afflicted with telepathy or madness. Writing is very much a task for the confines of that inner space. But it is also a task that demands release into the wider spaces of the world once it is done. This is the most difficult aspect of being a writer. Taking those inner private workings and then releasing them into the daylight glare of the world. It is absolutely no wonder writing forums and articles lie thick with angst and self-reassurance. What normal person walks up to complete strangers and blurts out their inner most thoughts? And if we continue the analogy, this stranger then corrects our English and sends us away to rethink our words. We then back away and gratefully accept their advice, hopefully not too damaged by the encounter, to try again with another stranger.
In the wider world our endeavours are always assessed, commented upon, compared, and in the writing world this equates to book sales, competition wins, dollars in the bank or literary awards. And yet a writer may have few or none of these things and still be a writer. An artist must paint, a singer must sing, a teacher must teach and a writer must write. If you were a psychologist would you call this an obsession? I don’t know I’m not a psychologist. I can only write the question while I am pondering the processes of writing.
Maybe it is the difference between the person who likes a morning walk everyday and the person who is driven to compete in a marathon against the best. Neither of these people are doing it because a multinational company is going to give them money if they wear a specific graphic on their shirt. But the athlete may very well be able to make a career of running very fast exactly because they can run very fast, and they love to run very fast.
Back to writing.
Writing is about writing. Not about the business of writing. There is no business of writing without the words. So the words come first, always.
Listen to the voice in your head.
You should be writing.
Had a bit of rain as they say, well those that specialize in understatement. Someone from the Bureau of Meteorology might say it was a category 5 cyclone eventually developing into a tropical low. Suffice to say, a lot of water from the sky, resulting in a lot of water on the ground. As a result of this purifying deluge the air is brilliantly clear and although the temperature has returned to it's normally warm summerness, it feels clean. For other people this might spur them to plant small green things, or brown things which will become green things. For me it spurs a return to my keyboard. The words want to spring from my fingertips like the sprouting green things. There is a muse in the air and it is whispering her seductions.
This is a time when I store away the sensations and awareness of where I am for another day. I will now forever have the feel of clean warm breeze against my bare arms stored away in the filing system of my mind. The damp smell of earth and rotting leaves is there somewhere too. The soft white noise of the fan doggedly pushing a small breeze into my little writing corner. Magpies shouting warning cries over the clang and hydraulic roar of the waste removal truck. Little patches of silence filled only with the breezy paper rustle of shredded palm leaves. All this is now mine. Copied, stored, kept somewhere in my brain. So when my heroine needs to look outside her window I know exactly how the grass will smell and what sound the trees are making.
I never grow weary of stepping into a new world, most of the time I have no idea what I am going to find.
Well a busy week and a half of little writing but much thinking, which as it turned out was very productive. When I did get to the keyboard the dialogue just flowed onto the page. I've started on the second of my regency paranormals, this one is tentatively called The Sailor's Lass. I'm on the second scene and so far so good. I have plotted out the beginning of this one but haven't got much further. The characters didn't care and started without me. Charles, Charlotte's brother from The Soldier's Woman, seems to be much more of a pivotal character than I had ever envisaged.
It was interesting because the characters took up the story as if I had just walked back in on them. I have an idea of where my story was going but now I'm not so sure. The landscape is much richer and the characters are bringing along their friends.
I could say the same thing of the other books I am working on. Yes, I know you not supposed to work on more than one thing at a time, but I have never been able to be so single-minded. The exception being deadlines, where I seal myself into my 'mind palace' and ring the walls with explosive devices. My short 'environmental fairytale' with romantic elements has taken itself off the back burner and plonked itself on my keyboard.
All this activity was triggered by one thing that had been percolating somewhere in the grey folds of my cerebral cortex - dialogue. There comes a point in my storytelling where I can hear and see the characters. This is the point where it becomes necessary for me to document their dialogue. And yes, it is really is documenting what they are saying. For most of the story I am the director, but at these moments I am listening to my characters. At the 2012 Writers Festival Maryline Hume (MD Hume), who writes the Arthurian historical fiction, said she just ran after her characters madly writing down what they were saying. I totally get that.
A strange mix of plodding slowly through the plot and flitting from one exciting adventure to the next.
Well having spent several days reading and watching tutorials about web design I have finally achieved two websites which aren't totally horrible. Now as I try to embed the coding for the Facebook and Twitter feed buttons, the thermometer is topping 35 degrees (that's centigrade, that's hot folks) and the humidity is somewhere between clammy and wet-warm-dog-on-the-face. So it may have been understandable that I had a little fit of pique when I exited the webpage editor and found the changes on my linked pages as only an approximation of what I had labored over.
Never mind. At this stage the only one suffering is me. So I shall press on.
Of course, I could be writing...
As a biologist and ecologist I know that all life adapts. Without adapting to changing conditions animals and plants die. Our lives too are never the same. We all grow older, we move from place to place, we have relationships with others, we learn and we adapt to these changes. Sometimes we change so slowly we wake up one morning and we look in the mirror and think "Wow! Who's that?" and I don't mean we have a degenerative brain disease and have forgotten our own faces. What I mean is that we all have this mental image of ourselves. I haven't quite pinpointed mine down but it definitely doesn't equate to the face in the morning mirror. I know for a fact that the real me is much more vibrant and grounded than that person in the reflection. And you know, on a good day that's true.
On a good day I take up my pen, okay keyboard, and dash off a few hundred words. I'm learning to look into that mirror, smile and say "Wow, Good to see you again. Looking good." So what has this got to do with anything? Well, I have finally finished my romance manuscript and submitted it. I finally realized that the reader and writer of romance fiction was part of me. I have adapted. I have become a writer.
Tea-drinker, writer and editor. Ecologist, environmental scientist, futurist and student of irony.