Saturday, January 16, 2010

New year, new work.

The inevitable has happened. My thoughts have turned to what I am going to write next. I have been asked so many times, 'so, what are you working on now?' At which point I usually look at my baby and back to the person asking the question. Alas, he is now five months old and I can no longer use him as an excuse. Even though motherhood is a full time job, there comes a time when your brain starts coming back and you start thinking about what to apply it to.

In some ways it's a lovely feeling - a clean slate, an empty page. Anything is possible. At the same time it is daunting. What if I don't have any good ideas? Actually, I have a notebook full of good ideas for my next grown-up novel, but none of them is calling to me louder than the others. Each one would require exploration to see if it's any good. It is worrying to me, because the last time I was at this stage I spent months on something that just never took flight. I don't want that to happen again but know it inevitably will.

There is pressure, too. Your second novel has its own syndrome, but your third has no excuse. Your third should be perfect. It should have all the strengths of your first two and none of the weaknesses; it should have new and unique properties that demonstrate that you have kept on getting better at this writing lark. It should be deeper and more profound, more controlled and yet more exuberant. Not too much to ask.

In among the new ideas scribbled in my notebook, there is one that has been there the longest. An idea that come to me after my first son was born as I walked around Wellington's wild south coast with a pushchair. At the moment that is the idea that is calling to me the loudest, the one that feels less daunting (and certainly shorter): a children's novel. In some ways pushing everything aside to work on it (I have written the synopsis and the first chapter already) is a delaying tactic, but I also feel that this is a story that can be wonderful in its own right, to sit alongside my adult novels. I also feel that while I work this out of my system, my next adult novel will present itself and can slowly percolate while I write about a 12-year-old boy called Jake.

Whatever happens, I will be happy to be writing again.

As an aside, my dear friend Mary has started a very knowledgeable blog on good things to listen to and read while commuting - Beaut Commute (love the title!). A fabulous idea. Sometimes I wish I was a commuter, instead of working from home.