After moaning in my previous post about how I had lost it, the muse came back to me the following day. As I say in the title, it is very much a case of 'swings and roundabouts', an expression I love. I had two major breakthroughs this week. The first, although seemingly a minor fact about my protagonist, will actually shape the whole novel and made everything fall into place with a resounding 'click'. It has sent me off on another research tangent, but one which I am thoroughly enjoying, and being resident at a university is certainly helping.
The second breakthrough arrived unexpectedly. I didn't even know I was looking for it. I was walking home from the bus last night listening to the soundtrack of The Piano, music by Michael Nyman. It was one of those gorgeously still and very cold Christchurch evenings, with clear indigo skies lined with pink. I relish that walk. It's only ten minutes, but it is my last chance to be fully inside my head and to mull over what I have been working on during the day, before I arrive home to bright lights and cosy air, the chaos of the child's dinner, bath, bed routine. I always have my iPod on and have lately been listening to music that feeds the mood of the novel. I hadn't listened to The Piano for a long time - perhaps years - and it brought back many a melancholy moment I had drawn out by listening to it. Maybe it is a coincidence that, like The Piano, some of my novel is set in colonial New Zealand, but perhaps Nyman's music so perfectly evokes that time, he had sent me there without my realising it.
The breakthrough was the end of the novel. I had been working with a vague idea of a resolution, but hadn't thought about it too much as I trusted that writing my way towards it would make it clearer. So I was surprised when it arrived unannounced in my head apropos of nothing. And it had quite a kick. I was a bit stunned and when I got home had to fend off the family while I wrote it down. It is one of those endings (I hope), that is surprising (it surprised me, for a start), but utterly inevitable. I hope.
Of course, in this crazy writing playground, the swings and roundabouts could just as easily come back sometime in the future and knock my wee ending out of the park.
The Next Word: Contemporary New Zealand Poetry
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