Daily Archives: November 10, 2012

The Stillness of Saturday

*whispering* Hello, everybody!

My house is so quiet at the moment, I almost feel like the sound of my typing will start a mini-earthquake. My husband’s having a bit of a lie-in, as is only logical on a Saturday, and we’re easing ourselves into the day. We have a long journey to complete later today, and – as is so often the case – when you know you’ll be busy later, you tend to take it easy when you can. Saturdays are the best day for this sort of thing, which is why I love them so very much.

Yesterday, I did a bit of work on the WiP – not as much as a regular day, because I was a lady with a lot on her mind. I did manage to get to the bottom of one of my crazy plot issues, the one I said was on my mind over breakfast yesterday morning. When I went back to look at it again, it actually didn’t seem as bad as I’d remembered, but I changed it around a bit anyway to make it seem more real, and more human. I think, actually, that what I’d done wrong with that scene was the same mistake I’ve made at several points in the WiP, so I had a good sense of how to improve it. Sometimes it’s hard to bear in mind when you’re writing a scene at a particularly emotionally charged moment in your book that you have to keep things logical, realistic and consistent – at least, it is for me. What I mean is, you have your plot in the back of your mind, and you know where you want your characters to be in two or three pages’ time, so sometimes – unconsciously – this knowledge can spill into earlier scenes and skew them. Your main character is having a fight with her father, for instance, and it’s important in order to show problems in their relationship or to hint at difficulties the father is facing and cannot, for whatever reason, get his children involved with – and that scene is important in its own right. But you, the author, know that your main character will shortly be rappelling down the side of a building with a bomb clutched between her teeth (or whatever!), and so this seeps into your delicately constructed scene between her and her father, making it seem rushed or making her react out of character, or making her give away too many hints at what’s about to happen. I do this because I’m excited about what’s coming and I want to get to it, but I know it doesn’t make for a great reading experience. That’s why drafting and editing are, for me, so vital – I never see these things until I’m going over my work a second, or even a third, time.

I go through up-and-down phases with this work; sometimes, writing it feels like chewing glass. It’s hard, I don’t want to do it, and I know it’s going to hurt. A lot of the time, though, it’s the best thing in the world – I’m tapping away at the keyboard, filling up the screen with my imagination, and it’s an incomparable feeling of freedom and joy. The highs definitely make the lows worthwhile, but it can be hard to remember the happiness of flying high above your imagined world when you’re stuck in the nitty-gritty, trying to remember what colour eyes you said such-and-such a character had way back on page 4, or whether a plotline you’ve spent weeks perfecting actually works, now that it’s down on a page. But how can I complain? The more I do this, the more I feel I’m on the right track. I may never be a well-known author, and I may never have any readers outside of my immediate family. Come to that, I may never be published at all! But every day, or every other day, when I sit down to unravel some more of this complex, maddening, beautiful (to me), long-cherished tapestry in my mind, I know that there’s nowhere else I’d rather be. As my mother says, if you love what you’re doing, you’ll never work a day in your life – and she’s right.

Speaking of my parents, it’s actually my dad’s birthday today. Hip-hip-hooray! He won’t be reading this until next week, because he’s off away for the weekend with my mother, but I wanted to send him love and congratulations anyway. Happy Birthday, Popser.

Whether or not it’s your birthday, and whether or not you’re working on anything in particular, and whether or not your Saturday has been quiet or manic or windswept or whatever so far, I hope you have a wonderful day. As ever, thanks for reading, and we’ll talk again soon.