Friday, 18 February 2011

Writing again

This is not me and this is not the way I write. This is Charles Dickens but look at that girly hair! However I do not have long hair. I also do not write longhand. Or with a quill pen, or on a wax tablet or a typewriter. And you know what? My hero, Dickens, if he were alive today, would do just what I do, I'm sure of it.

He would compose on a laptop - or an iPad or some other modern form of tablet. Because he was prolific and he could have produced if not more novels then the ones he did write more quickly. And I reckon he would have loved that.

My week began with an interview of over three hours for a major magazine. Watch this space for details. But I had to say how I do what I do and it got me thinking.  I've composed at least ten full-length novels straight on to my laptop - and had about five different laptops in that time. I do write notes in longhand and family trees, index cards for characters and my timeline. But if I want the story to flow, it's a keyboard for me now.

Then I got the first proof copy of David, my new historical novel for Bloomsbury - out in July so  a bit more space-watching. And did a rush job of reviewing someone else's novel. All very well but what was stopping me getting started on my own next book? I had the notes, the reference books, the card index and a board covered with post-it notes but something was holding me back.

I'm not like Douglas Adams, bless him. I don't like the whooshing sounds of deadlines going past. I started as a journalist and the deadline is sacrosanct. And I knew I must start this week at the latest or imperil my ability to deliver on time. But plunging into a new book is a big commitment. You will live with those characters for five or six months and become absent-minded with your family and friends, often drifting off into the world of your book while you are talking to them.

And I know I have a lot of smaller things to write in order to promote David, as well as tinkering with future proposals if there is to be another book after this. So why fritter away time on Facebook and Twitter and reading other people's blogs? Because I can. And I think Charles Dickens might do the same if he were around now too.

"@johannaharness Created a good character called Micawber today #amwriting," I can imagine him Tweeting.

"OMG, wrote 5,000 words," might be his FB Status.

"#ff @MARYMHOFFMAN - she seems a good sort" (I wish!)

My point is that all that faffing around I do has become as much a part of my creative process as any other writing habit. And I HAVE started. Prologue and Chapter One written and printed out, characters re-visited, new ones introduced. I'm on my way.

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