Like a bear in hibernation, my creativity awakes, stretches and peeks out of its hidey hole. Last summer was a long, dark winter as far as my creativity was concerned and it’s only just now that the snows are beginning to melt. Did I just catch a delicious whiff of inspiration? Time to shake off my winter sloth and munch on the green shoots of an idea. ‘The bees are buzzing in the tree to make some honey just for me.’
Wordism: ‘Look for the bare necessities, the simple bare necessities, forget about your worries and your strife,’ as a famous bear once said. (There’s so much wisdom in that song, don’t you think?)
I am taking the first tentative steps into writing the new book and doing my happy bear dance.
What got me writing again? Writing, got me writing again. But these things can’t be rushed. I’m not someone for whom inspiration strikes like a thunderbolt. It is more a slow dawning. I’ve only written a few hundred words but it is a start and it’s helping to crystallise the story in my mind. I’ll take you through the process so far.
I started with the idea. Modern day girl meets suffragette. That appealed. That, I could work with. That, I could pitch to a publisher. I began researching suffragettes on the web and came across one who interested me in particular. But this isn’t an historical novel. It’s a contemporary story with an historical twist. So I set to thinking about my modern day girl and her story, while letting my initial research mulch down.
I knew her parents were divorcing, I knew she was obsessed with being skinny, I knew she had no idea what to do with her life. I didn’t yet know what she was passionate about.
I started writing in the first person, letting my character vent all her problems, hopes and dreams. This can be quite useful as a way to get to know your characters and their voices.
With this book, for some reason, I can’t launch straight into it. So after letting her vent, I wrote random scenes, which may or may not find their way into the book. Jasmine (Jazz), at home with her parents, Jazz with her friend Crystal, Jazz being told that her mum and dad are divorcing etc. And I’ve also been playing with the third person and the first person and thinking about how I’m going to tell my story.
As is often the case with me, the character I’m thinking about, Jazz, is a struggle and the one I haven’t thought about, Crystal, comes fully formed. In previous books, sometimes people have found my secondary characters more real or likeable. So perhaps there’s a clue there.
Wordism: Don’t over-think it. A character often comes to you as you write.
Anyway, I decided to borrow a bit from Crystal as hers seemed a better story and, in doing that, Jazz has come on in her own way. But still the plot wasn’t coming.
It was at this point I started blogging as well as doing my morning pages, which involves writing down everything on my mind when I wake up. Both have helped me pick myself up from last year’s rejections, formulate my thoughts and ideas, and find a way forward.
Lately, I’ve been putting my mind to plot but didn’t get beyond a series of events, which is not the same. And so I went back to my character. I hadn’t yet had Jazz meet the suffragette. And that was supposed to be the point of the book.
So that’s what I’ve been writing over the past couple of days and though I’ve not written reams, I did get into the flow. I was absorbed by it. I lost track of time. I was enjoying the process of writing again, it was triggering plot ideas. Woohoo! A major breakthrough.
Wordism: Forget the end product, enjoy the process.
It’s early days but the idea is awake, living and breathing. Soon I’ll be able to write that elusive first chapter.
And just because it’s fun and it’s in my head and because I think there’s some relevance to the state of mind you have to be in to write – relaxed, going with the flow, letting it come to you, here’s the song:
Look for the bare necessities
The simple bare necessities
Forget about your worries and your strife
I mean the bare necessities
Old Mother Nature’s recipes
That brings the bare necessities of life
Wherever I wander, wherever I roam
I couldn’t be fonder of my big home
The bees are buzzin’ in the tree
To make some honey just for me
When you look under the rocks and plants
And take a glance at the fancy ants
Then maybe try a few
The bare necessities of life will come to you
They’ll come to you!