Sunday, 2 October 2011
A VISIT FROM THE MUSES
On Saturday, after I'd done my normal household chores and shopping, I sat down with my notebook and produced a detailed, six page outline, with bullet points, for the scenes I wanted to start on Sunday. The scenes I've been referring to on Twitter as The Big Fat Final Scenes (well, it goes nicely with Big Secret Project, right?).
I did this because I had SO much going on in these final scenes and there were so many ways things could play out, that I really wanted to nail the choices down and block it all out before I started work for real. That way, instead of staring at a blank page and being faced with a million things to decide, I could launch right into the action. Some writers do this with note cards or Post-Its or with clever graphs, but generally when I'm feeling a bit overwhelmed I find the best thing to do is scribble until I feel better.
Which I duly did.
Sunday rolled around, and despite oversleeping and therefore getting up with a headache, I was in my Writing Cave and ready to begin work shortly before nine o'clock. I hoped, with determined optimism, to get about ten handwritten pages completed, which would translate (normally) to something like two thousand words when typed up. A nice chunk of pages that would get me right into the action.
I popped in my favourite Big Secret Project writing playlist (you can find it here) and started writing.
Then I wrote some more.
And... a bit more.
My hand started to really hurt. I stopped, ran it under cold water, and then warm, and then cold again. Then I went back to my notebook.
I noticed that my clock said it was lunchtime. After stretching my hand again and wondering why it was hurting so much, I counted the pages I'd written that morning.
It was twenty-one.
Hmmm. That was quite a lot. Around twice what I'd expected to write the whole day. Things were going well. I went off thoughtfully to have some lunch, walk the dog and apply a cooling gel strip to my hand.
When I came back, I went onto Twitter and asked for opinions. I had written twice as much that morning as I expected to. The Muses, who, being capricious and contrary, often make one of their rare visits when a person is already in their Writing Cave scribbling their brains out, seemed to be in my corner. It was possible - JUST possible - that if I kept on like this, I might be able to actually finish my handwritten draft today.
This. Actual. Day.
On the other hand, my first handwritten draft doesn't really count because I still have to type everything up later and revise and re-write and polish it. And my arm and fingers were very sore. And I usually spend the afternoons typing my morning's notes up so that I can get a fresh start the NEXT morning. So...what did everyone think? Should I push on and go for it? Or stop now and start typing up and re-writing?
The vote was unanimous. Push on.
Notebook open again. Fresh pen, since the old one was getting a bit faint and scratchy. Music on. Write.
I got to an emotional bit, and started crying. I wrote through the tears.
The tears eventually dried up.
Finally, the words THE END escaped from my pen.
I was looking at the first, very tough, handwritten draft of Book One of Big Secret Project. The book so big and secret that I can't even tell you about it yet.
I still have to do a lot of work on this manuscript. Not just the typing and revising and polishing, but then printing it out, leaving it for a minimum of two weeks, re-reading it and revising and polishing again.
But all the same.
Today, I wrote forty handwritten pages - roughly (it may prove to be slightly more or less, typed up) eight thousand words. Today, I strained my hand and carried on writing even when it hurt so badly I could hardly hold the pen. Today I dripped tears all over everything and swiped them off and kept the words coming. Most of all, today I was happy. Completely and totally happy, joyous and free and in my element in a way that it's almost impossible to explain to anyone who doesn't have something they're passionate about (whether that's writing or reading or painting or singing or baking or running or doing their make-up or making sculptures out of discarded plastic picnic forks) in their life.
This is what being a writer is all about. These enchanted moments when everything goes wrong but it doesn't matter because you want to write more than anything, and you do.
And here, just for kicks, are a couple of shots of the two notebooks that I have filled up writing Book One of Big Secret Project, and in which the enchanted words THE END are scribbled out in blue pen - one of the most beautiful sights a writer can ever see.
And now... onto Book Two. *Grins*