Work on my second novel has temporarily stopped. At around 10,000 words I realised I had been for too long dancing around an incident that would not be explained until later on in the book, and of which, of course, I had only a sketchy idea. I had no choice but to jump forward and write the incident, so that I could continue with the story. I’ve found that writing a novel can involve a fair amount of virtual time travelling. After a great deal of vacillation as to exactly what form ‘the incident’ (as I refer to it) would take, I finally wrote a first draft. Which was progress, but at that point I realised that I’d lost control (as Ian Curtis used to sing). This is what happens when you’re writing in your spare time, with precious little of that available. Writing a novel is an intense experience and a feat of master planning. However well you document the plan and your progress (and I do pay a lot of attention to this) you really need to have the plan, the characters and their relationships clear in your mind all of the time. When you only have short periods of time in which to write (and indeed, to think) when there are too many other things in your life needing your attention, it’s easy to lose your grasp on the plan. It’s a bit like Cherie Booth juggling (or was it talking?) balls. I realised that I needed to stop, to read through what I’d written, and get everything clear in my mind again before continuing with the story.
Before doing this, I thought I would take the opportunity to work on an idea for a short story that came to me a few weeks ago whilst I was watching a natural history programme on Australia. What I’ve written is a rather bizarre story about a very familiar Australian animal. Part anthropomorphic fairy tale, part horror story, partly ironic, and quite blatantly allegorical; it’s the kind of thing you could only get away with in a short story! Which reminds me – I really must get around to making more of my short fiction available from the blog. Soon!
Anyway, this particular story has turned out to be a little longer than I’d expected (a bit of a shaggy Koala story, you could say). I’ve just started typing it up today (I always do my first drafts with pencil and paper) so I should hopefully be able to get back to the book soon. The process will be to familiarise myself with and consolidate what I’ve done so far, reconcile it with the overall plan, and then I can continue. I seem to remember that I’m heading towards the first (and last?) sex scene. At only ten to twelve thousand words in, does that make me a bit of a slut..?