I’ve been a bit quiet here recently, there’s just been too much on, lots of events that Really Matter – like this one :
Lambeth/Labour/LGBT and why we really need to make sure the Tories don’t get in (yes, even if that means tactical voting, and yes, even those who don’t agree with all Labour’s choices in the past 13 years!) My very real concern is that, as Paul Burston expressed on his facebook page recently, lots of younger people have only really known Labour in power, they didn’t live with the Tories as government and have been taken in by their ‘oh but we’ve changed’ approach on everything from LGBT issues to inheritance tax. The Chris Grayling row is a great example of this. And there’s always the assumption that perhaps a change is good, simply because it’s a change. Well, not in this case.

And there’s this too, Do you think the performing arts matter in this election? an Improbable/D&D/Artsadmin event, using Open Space to discuss arts & politics – too often these two are seperate, too often artists aren’t engaged in politics (and vice versa!). I’m really enthused by what seems to be solid and do-able initiatives coming from discussion.

I’m also gearing up for a Buddhist Open Space event which I’m really excited (and also a little nervous) about – we all get into our patterns and usual ways of doing things, those of us creating this event hope our organisation might benefit from looking at things in a different way, and the Open Space form that I’ve so enjoyed for the Improbable D&Ds, as well as several other meetings recently, and even some rehearsals, feels like a good thing to try.

But that’s all quite a lot of talking and business and engaging with others and, at the same time, the other thing I really want to do – almost all the time right now – is to keep on with the first draft of the second Theodora book. I have somewhere between five and ten chapters to write to finish this draft. I know it’s very loose, messy, VERY first draft. I also know that when I read it I will find that there are certain elements I need to play up, things to bring into sharper focus, characters to expand. I know there will also be great chunks that probably need to be cut altogether, and if not, then pared down to their essential components and kept only if they feed the story. I know that when I read the first draft I will find out what the deeper, underlying Story is. (At least I hope I will, I always have before!) Of course I don’t start a first draft without some clear idea of what my story is (as opposed to plot, I always have some – even if only very loose – idea of beginning/middle/end -ish!), but I do think that, in the writing of the thing, something bigger, something more like Story (with the cap!) tends to reveal itself. Ie, what the point of telling this story, in this way, with these characters really is. In some ways, given this is a historical fiction, based on a real person, I am, obviously, telling Theodora’s story. But as I approach the end of the first draft, I’m aware there are other currents in the story, something about choice, something about determination, something about strength. And love. And faith (not necessarily religious). And those are the elements that only start to show themselves in the actual writing of it. (And no doubt others I haven’t really noticed yet, as I haven’t finished it yet!) Those are the things I’ll work on in the 2nd and 3rd (and maybe many more) drafts to come – the non-plot but equally essential elements that make up the story. That make it Story. That make it matter. Often, the way these more themic tones find their place is by having them barely there at all. Having them become such tiny, but vital, notes that the last thing they do is bash the reader over the head with their presence, ideally insinuating themselves so quietly the reader doesn’t even know they’re there until thinking about the book later perhaps, or considering a character that stays with them long after they’ve turned the last page.
At least that’s how it works when it works! Meanwhile I’m getting on with finishing the first draft while doing the events and stepping up with my politics and the Buddhism. Which, given I’m writing about a woman who did just that, stepped up with her politics and her faith, is probably just as well.