“During my pregnancy I wrote a great number of these novelettes at a guinea a thousand; they were fifteen, twenty and twenty-five thousand words in length, and when the cheques came in they seemed vast sums — the biggest sums I had ever earned by writing. I liked doing these things – they took my mind off the worrying business of having a baby that one did not want.” Confessions and Impressions Ethel Mannin
Monthly Archives: April 2011
My Own Personal Processes to get the Exploratory (pre-First) Draft Going:
1. Writing out sketches, improvising scenes, freewriting alongside research. Having a ‘research period’ and then a ‘writing period’ doesn’t work for me. The experience is fused.
2. Freewrite anything, ANYTHING, connected to the story in any person/tense/tone don’t worry or care about any of that stuff yet, just let anything come out.
3. Work out the time-chronology of the story as I go along. This will almost definitely not be the way the story is told eventually but important to have it clear in my mind before I get to the First Draft stage which is the first attempt at playing around with structure.
4. Follow any tangential ideas and research and reading, no matter how random. Dead-ends and back-tracks and circular motions are not only acceptable they are desirable.
5. Start anywhere, don’t get hung up on the beginning because all of that will be sorted out later.
6. Be open to the spooky, strange coincidences that life offers up when embarking on a project such as this. Endless connections, webs, signs from the universe, a name never known before is suddenly everywhere, everything has a story from the silver tea spoon to the bench in the park, be a conduit for all these stories coming through physical matter into the mind. As nutty as that might sound.
7. Organise life so that writing is possible for a minimum of 2 hours per day EVERY DAY. EVERY DAY is key because lost threads are hellish to pick up.
8. Use the working document approach, do NOT ever write CHAPTER ONE.
9. Use the blog as a scrapbook, a notebook as a diary, a diary as a scrapbook, keep everything connected.
10. Follow the flow when it comes to reading the books that feed in, novels, info, histoical, doesn’t matter. Keep a doc with a reading list on it.
11. This stage is pulling the threads out and exploring, it’s important to capture everything because if lost, you have to start again, right from the beginning. This is what I did with the Lady Cyclist: round and round and right back again, forgetting enormous bits then re-remembering. This time: keep it together in the notebooks and Docs.
12. Print the working Docs out and put in ringbinder.
13. Ideas about structure will come, they are inherent in the writing, don’t get hung up on them, note them down and keep the writing flowing for now.
*this is what I am doing whilst everyone else is out having Easter Holiday sunshine fun*
“Yes, amusing isn’t it, that I modelled my time machine on a bicycle? I suppose today would make it more like a car – or an aeroplane. But it was the age of a bicycle when I wrote the tale – motorcars were still prototypes, and aeroplanes were non-existent. The bike was the acme of mechanised transport for most people, certainly one everybody could relate to. And there is something poetic about the bicycle, something slightly magical. I once saw a picture of a man pedalling with his bike mounted on a set of rollers, for exercise, and that gave me the idea: time was passing, and he had the illusion of movement as the wheels went round, though he stayed in the same place. But supposing he were acutally moving through time, and the appearance of the place changed accordingly.”
David Lodge, A Man of Parts. [HG Wells talking about The Time Machine]
Day 1 as a proper writer:
So far, no difference. Not sure why I have designated today as day 1 as proper writer, but there we are. In honour I am – of course – doing no writing at all but am clearing out my study.
This isn’t how I mean to go on, honestly. (That one is for my agent and my editor, now I have such important things).
Upending my study (I call it STUDY, in reality it’s a back room looking over a railway track) has unearthed some gems.
A black, leather bible much like the one Millicent carries in my book. I found it at a bootfair and the stall holder gave it to me for free. This is the inscription inside:
and a book I picked up in Tallinn: Mart Laarman, a Cubist illustrator.
I don’t know why I keep finding images of woodcut-ish birds.
and a sad girl.