Books, creeks and paddles

I haven’t posted recently about the process of writing my book, (which was supposed to be the point of this blog) or even about the process of not writing. This is because I’ve been in a strop.

I had started on the Suffragette idea and had some joyful moments of ‘flow’ before losing my paddle. Not only that but I started to question whether I was writing the right book. Up the creek. Again.

I got to the same place with the last idea – my Inca adventure / romance – and bailed out because it just wasn’t coming to me. I lost faith in it. And here I was in the same situation.

But then Lee Weatherly, a writer friend and mentor, got me thinking about what I wanted to write rather than what I thought would sell. I loved writing my last book, The Smuggler’s Daughter, but I’d not got a book deal. So this time I’d been focusing on getting the right idea. A marketable idea. But perhaps I was focusing too much on the goal of getting published.

Wordism: Focus on the process of writing and the joy of that rather than on the end product.

So, I thought, what do I want to write? What do I enjoy? I like writing YA fiction. I enjoy adventure stories. And love stories. I like strong female characters. This led me back to my Inca idea. Is that my paddle over there?

I made a foray into a possible first chapter and had some fun, before getting stuck. But this time, rather than feeling blocked, I recognised that the idea needed work.

I hold on to the paddle, I don’t jump ship (or canoe), I think about how to find my way out. I stop thinking and notice the creek is pretty, even if it doesn’t go anywhere. Ideas begin to rain. I could develop the fantasy element. Maybe it’s set in the future. Or an alternative present. I can feel the boat shifting. Pretty soon I’ll be off the mud flats and into the stream of a first chapter and, I hope, swept into the exhilarating white waters of a novel.

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2 responses to “Books, creeks and paddles

  1. How does a fantasy elephant differ from a normal one?

    • A deep question! A real elephant is fantastic as it is. You could have a real elephant in a fantasy. Or if you had an elephant in a parallel world it might have evolved in a different way and have long legs and a trunk twice as long so it could eat leaves in the trees but also drink from the river without stooping. Giraffes would have benefited from a trunk, I think.

      Depending on the world you’re creating, a fantasy elephant might be purple or have stripes, or it might have special powers. A herd of invisible elephants, for instance, could wreak havoc in battle. (Although science has proved invisibility to be theoretically possible so it’s no longer fantasy.) Or it could dress up like Marlene Dietrich and sing ‘Falling in love again’ while riding a unicycle and smoking a cigarette. But that would be silly because smoking is bad for you. And it wouldn’t be original because Jessica Rabbit kind of got there first.

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