Today I started my new book. Number 13. It’s Book 2 following on from Book 1 which I finished a few months ago. In between I have written an adaptation of Medea, a couple of stories, a few articles, and been to Montreal to write a travel piece, plus half a dozen other book events in the UK.
I started Book 1 on June 4th 2007. I remember the actual date because some interesting mystic-ish things happened and they prompted me to get on with the book I’d been holding in my head for a while. Not really for discussion here, though am sure I’ll tell the story at some point. And in fact, I actually started Book 2 last Thursday, having been aware for some weeks that I planned to start on June 1st, and not knowing how to start, I scribbled down a few hundred words when I suddenly had an idea of a way in. Today I turned those few hundred words into 1200 words. They’re very first draft words, and I might tidy them up a bit later this afternoon or first thing tomorrow, but the main impetus now is to get on and make something happen. These 1200 words are quite a lot of setting up. Character-specific, status-specific, but setting nonetheless. They may well end up being the kind of 1200 words that get cut later (!), but at least I’ve started. I’ve got to a place where something will happen next. And I will hopefully write that something tomorrow.
Of course, when I say I’ve started on Book 2 because I’ve finished Book 1, that isn’t actually totally true. Book 1 is off being copy-edited. There will be things to do on it (still!). There is an idea that has formed only very recently, in further thinking and talking about Book 2, that might mean I have to make a few additions to Book 1, even after the copyedit (it’s ok, Editor knows this!). I’m aware that often people assume one book gets written, it’s all done, the writer has a few months off (hah!), and then they get on to the next one. In my experience, it’s way more messy that that.
Yes, it has happened that I’ve finished a book – totally and utterly, copyedit, proofs etc etc, all done before going on to the next one. But often, and especially in this case, as they’re telling different parts of one character’s story, there’s been way more overlap. I spent the first 6 months (before June 4th 2007) reading and researching (while still editing The Room of Lost Things), and as the research was for both of these new books, in many ways, I feel like I’ve actually been working on it – already – since way back then. So, scary though it always is to start a new project (can I do it again? can I do it this time? do I have any idea what I’m talking about? how the hell do you write books?!), it’s also a joy to finally get back into it. And I hope, will become more so as these next few weeks go on and I find a new rhythm for this new book.
(now watch those Book 1 copyedit queries come along and screw up that planning!!)
Today, in sticky London heat, I’m especially thinking of various loved ones who are starting brand new projects this week or very soon (new babies, new shows, new writing, new life chapters) and I wish them all good things for what happens next.
am tempted to start a blog called ‘not working, reading stella’s blog’
It’s good to hear that writing is just as messy as life. Thank you for sharing a little of the process with us- it all looks like magic from here.
thanks blackbird – if this blog has any purpose at all (other than give me a place to let off steam every now and then!), it’s that I’d love to demystify the whole writing thing, especially the idea that some people are born to it and some not.
which, quite clearly, is the beginning of a new blog …