It feels as though every time I write a new blog post I seem to be apologising for or at least acknowledging the fact I haven't been keeping this blog up to date. So I'm not going to do that this time.
What I'm going to write about is new beginnings. Because for the fifth time in my life I am starting a new novel (discounting of course all the false starts I had in my 20s when I should never have been attempting a novel, but counting my first, unpublished novel). What happened to the last one I was writing? Well, if you look to the right of this blog you'll see my 'picometer' widget which has been tracking my progress on the children's novel I was chipping away at. And guess what? I finished it. Quite a while ago actually. And it's going to be published, too, but I'll post about that in more detail at a later date. Let's just say that I surprised myself, because I am always complaining about what little time I have to write with two pre-school-aged (hence the neglected blog) but it turns out that just tapping away a few hundred words here and there actually gets you a book. Admittedly a very short book.
What this all means is that I am starting again. I have been trying to start again. But damn, I have just been reminded how damn hard beginnings are. My children's book was actually a breeze in that department. The whole idea came to me while I was out walking one day and I went home and wrote the first chapter. The voice of the story, of the main character, arrived in my head immediately, and once you have the voice, the book just writes itself really. So of course when I had my big idea for my new book, I just expected that I would sit down and out it would come. But it didn't, did it? And then I remembered how long it took me to really get started on Magpie Hall. Months actually. I even wrote about 10,000 words of a completely different book, but that one died a horrible death and Magpie Hall assembled itself from its squashed bones and guts. And it took me so long to find Rosemary's voice. I wrote so much that never made it into the book, just finding my way into her head, into her life. The result being that I knew an awful lot about her, which was a good thing, but at the time it was actually quite painful. I moaned about quite a bit on this blog, actually. In fact I started this blog as a diary of writing Magpie Hall, really. Maybe this process will bring me back to this blog as I work through things.
So. New beginnings, and lots of words to write that will never make the final cut but which will get me into the head of my character. In the meantime I am learning things about her, and her family, who I think will be quite wonderful. They're already becoming like real people in my mind, just not on the screen. I won't lie, it's an exciting time, but I just have to remind myself that each book is not necessarily as easy as the last.
Here's what I'm listening to at the moment in case you interested. Tiny Ruins' Some Were Meant For Sea. Sad and sublime. Nothing like a bit of melancholy to get me writing. (In fact, the cover of this album reminds me of my children's novel)
ANZ Festival programme announced on 5th March
8 hours ago