Yesterday, friends, I wrote just over one thousand words.
Once upon a time, this wouldn’t have made me happy at all. I’d have considered a day in which I ‘only’ wrote about a thousand words to be a failure. But now I know better. Now I know that one thousand words with which I’m pleased, one thousand words which I don’t immediately want to delete, is A Good Thing. It’s progress. It’s possibility.
Best of all, I wrote these one thousand words on a new story, one I’ve never tried to write before. It’s been in my head for just over a year, but I’ve only started really giving it brain-space over the past few weeks, drip-feeding it by reading and thinking and planning and allowing the characters and setting a little bit of space in my imagination. I’m not sure of every detail, and I only have a vague idea of what I want to happen, but I’m hoping that as I go things will become clearer, and as I get to know my characters their actions will drive the plot (because that makes for a better story, I think). The important thing is: I have the conflict. I have the antagonist, and what he wants, and I have the protagonists, and what they want, and these two sets of ‘wants’ are in opposition. I have bullies and family problems and school issues and illness, and I have friendship and loyalty and love. So, essentially, I have everything I need.
It’s like preparing a giant stew: I have all my ingredients on the workbench, gleaming and shining and full of colour and life, and I just have to put them all into the mix at the right time and in the right proportion and – fingers crossed – the finished product will taste wonderful.
That, as they say, is the plan.
This story is different from ‘Emmeline’ insofar as it’s set in our world – i.e. the children are contemporary, and they’ll have all the trappings of modern twelve-year-olds. This doesn’t mean there won’t be a fantastical element to the story – c’mon. This is me we’re talking about here. Of course there will. But I love stories which show that sometimes the scariest aspect of getting through adolescence isn’t the idea that there’s a scary monster in the shadows, but the fact that your parents aren’t speaking, or there are money problems, or someone is unwell, or all of the above. I love stories (The Skull in the Wood is a really good one) which interweave the real with the fantastical, and show that sometimes there’s no difference when it comes to how scary things can get, and in fact the real problems you’re facing can outweigh the fantastical without any effort.
I have a really clear mental image of the setting for this story, too (not least because it’s based on a real place, not too far from me) and I think that helps to get a handle on the story. There’s a certain freedom in writing a story set in a made-up landscape, or one which exists but which you’ve never been to and must, therefore, imagine, but I’m finding I like the idea of writing a tale based loosely on a place I’ve seen and can visualise clearly. It’s not a fancy setting, either; it’s about as far from exotic as can be imagined. But that, strangely, is why I like it so much.
Anyway. This story is a proto-zygote; it barely exists. Hence, this blog post must be brief and rather uninformative. Also, I really want to get back to the work of writing, and so I’m going to sign out now with a fond adieu, in the hope that today will go as well as yesterday and that I’ll have more good news to share as the week goes on. I’m going to slowly edge my way into this tale, knowing that I have written and completed one book of which I’m proud, and there’s nothing stopping me from doing it again.
(Nothing but myself, that is, and my own fear and flailing, so it’s time to stop all that old nonsense, and just get the words on the page. Right? Right).
Off I go, then. See you later!