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The beauty of book two…

There is something quite beautiful about writing a second novel, and that is the fact that it is your second. The very fact I have already written one book gives me the confidence that it is possible to do such a thing in the first place, it takes away the nerves of it being an impossible feat because I have done it once already.

Therefore, I can do it again.

Even the anxiety (the blasted self-doubt) has taken a slight back seat. I am still faced with that irritating daemon that sits on my shoulder and, when faced with a blank empty page, tells me I’m rubbish and will never, not ever, fill it. I’ve learnt to swat him away with my index finger. It’s still true that most of what I write in a first draft is absolute tripe, but I have the confidence to know now that it can be rewritten and tightened up. Essentially, the crap can be skimmed off and the rest can be fixed.

I also now have the confidence to know that a novel can, indeed, be written on the sofa. And, whilst I would still kill for an office space of my own, I am comforted by the fact that at least I won’t need to cram a desk into my house. There frankly isn’t space; I would either have to remove vast quantities of my children’s toys or a bookshelf or two would have to go. Neither of those options is viable.

But, most reassuringly, the best part of sitting down to write book two is that that burst of adrenaline is still there, the rush to write it, find out what happens. It’s the realisation that my career option was the right one and that, after spending three years mostly locked away by myself, I want to do it all over again with the next book.

But, this time, it won’t take three years to write.

Hopefully.

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The hunt is on…

I have an odd problem.

A mouse has moved into my car.

Yesterday, in an effort to get rid of said mouse, I spent a good portion of my afternoon cleaning my car, vacuuming, taking out all the detritus that had built up since I last cleaned it, which was, let’s be honest here, a good while ago.

I spent the earlier part of yesterday researching my second novel and it was rather blissful. I scouted out locations, took a zillion photos and wandered around Taunton looking at people and the way in which they interact with each other and their surroundings, trying to bring life and purpose to my characters. I was feeding that spark of creativity.

Every time I returned to my car I found the mouse had been at work. A corner of my son’s car seat had been nibbled. A sponge had been chewed (why do I have a sponge in my car? I honestly have no idea. None at all.) At one point the mouse, um, no polite way to say this, it had pooed. It had pooed right on my chair and that was the last straw; the mouse had to go.

I am also rather worried that it might chew through my break wires and turn my Yaris into an un-slowdown-able battering ram.

As I dragged out all the car seats, children’s toys, books, more books, notepads, scraps of paper, old orange peel and all the other stuff that had built up in my car over recent weeks, I realised how similar the task of hunting for the mouse and hunting for the spark really are. I’m trying to clear away the junk from my mind, work out which new ideas are worth keeping and which need clearing away in the hope that, by doing so, I will find that one tiny nugget that will make everything else click into place.

I never saw the mouse, but as the (humane) mousetrap I put in my car is currently empty, and there have been no further little presents left in my footwell, I can surmise that mousey has found a new place to nest. Hopefully, this is not the case for the creative spark. That chap can stay, nest away in my brain as long as it likes.

Which will hopefully be for a long, long time.

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When being a creep pays off…

I’m just back from a few days in London. I did the usually Londony things I like to do: museums, cinemas, revelling in the novelty of Starbucks (these don’t exist in deepest, darkest Somerset) But possibly the most enjoyable and valuable solo pursuit was people watching. And note taking.

If you were in a Kensington hotel, wondering who the creep with the notepad staring at you was then, yes, it was probably me. Staring. Note-taking. Creeping you out.

I’m not even sorry. I loved every minute of it.

Very few people notice if they’re being watched. On the tube, they stare at their phones, or their eyes glaze over in a daydream. In restaurants and coffee shops they become absorbed by their purchases. Bars are slightly different, I noticed that very early on. People look around them more in bars, are more likely to make eye contact with strangers, examine what those around them are wearing/doing/saying. This awareness of others makes them more self-conscious, more aware of being watched themselves.

Which is annoying, truth be told.

But still lots of fun.

What was even better, however, was the lightning bolt that hit me soon afterwards in the hotel lift. Metaphorical lightning, obviously. After spending the evening spying on unsuspecting hotel patrons the perfect narrative voice for my second novel suddenly clicked, just before the lift arrived on my floor.

Would that same voice have made itself known had I been back at home, writing on the sofa with earplugs and headphones on, blocking the real world out? Maybe. But I doubt it.

I think it was the connection with the outside that did it, the pistons firing in the part of my brain that controls my curiosity and, by proxy, my creativity. Wondering what these real people, right in front of me, might be saying to each other, might be thinking, gave me the perfect voice for the person I have invented.

Now I need to put that new voice to good use.