A Season For Writing

I’ve recently, after months spent editing and tweaking my vampire novel, started a new WIP. I felt a bit rusty at first, a bit unsure. I knew I could write books, but actually doing so, letting the story pull me along, was something I hadn’t done for a while. So I started slowly, trying not to force it, trying to remember how it felt to let things just flow instead of agonising over each sentence.

A blogger friend once wrote about there being seasons in writing. A season for editing, a season for planning, a season for writing. This resonated with me (well, not so much the planning part, as I’m a dedicated Pantser, but certainly the rest of it). It seems as though I’ve been just come out of very long season of editing and submitting, the wheel swinging around to writing again. I’m very happy about it.

Another blogger friend said recently, and I’m paraphrasing slightly, that I’m at my best when I’m writing. And maybe she’s right. I certainly enjoy creating – there really is nothing like the fire and excitement of a first draft, when the words just flow from my fingers, the story unfurling in my mind. I tend not to write scenes in any particular order – I just start with an idea and see where it takes me, enjoying the revelations that come with each scene, the puzzle of knitting all the threads together.

Way, way back, at the very beginning of my blogging days, I wrote about unearthing stories. This idea was based upon something Stephen King wrote in ‘On Writing’. He described finding stories as ‘unearthing a fossil,’ and, as soon as I read those words, I could see mine. This is what I wrote back in 2014:

Can still see them, poking out from the forest floor, delicate carapaces of bone or polished wood, it’s hard to tell as I unearth even more of them. One is almost clear of the ground, the story complete, just a bit of polishing required. The others are still offering up new discoveries, new aspects every time I look at them, whether it is a change of only a few words or a whole new idea. But the important thing is that I keep looking at them, keep exploring the angles, the nooks and crevices, until the job is done, the story told.

I’ve unearthed quite a few more since that original post, with five books now published and one more written, but the lovely thing is that I’m still finding them. My new WIP is set on the California coast just near Monterey, and I swear I feel as though I’ve been there just from writing about it; I can almost feel the California sunshine.

That’s the beauty of both reading and writing, I suppose – when this world seems a bit too much, we can escape somewhere else. I’m glad this season has taken me back to California – wonder where it will take me next?

How about you? Do you find your writing also falls into different ‘seasons’? Or do you work on everything at once?


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Unearthing Ideas

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Where do ideas come from? Ambeth was inspired, as I’ve said before, by something that happened to me when I was a child. But it has grown and evolved, the characters telling me things and taking me down paths I didn’t realise were there, and I’ve learnt to sit back and let them tell the story, my fingers mere conduits on the keyboard for what they wish to say. I’ve a few other ideas floating around – a house full of leaks, a glimpse of something in the Thames, a porcelain cap for my tooth, a dead woman – they are all jumping off points for other stories that are still percolating in my brain, waiting to come out.

I’ve heard the feeling of finishing a story being described as ‘entering open water’ – heading out to sea. But for me the analogy that rang true immediately came from the great Stephen King. He described finding a story as ‘unearthing a fossil,’ and as soon as I read those words I could see mine. Can still see them, poking out from the forest floor, delicate carapaces of bone or polished wood, it’s hard to tell as I unearth even more of them. Three are now clear of the ground, the stories complete, just a bit of polishing required. The others are still offering up new discoveries, new aspects every time I look at them, whether it is a change of only a few words or a whole new idea. But the important thing is that I keep looking at them, keep exploring the angles, the nooks and crevices, until the job is done, the story told.

Perhaps it is something to do with the way a writer’s brain works. That we can take a single small event, or notice something strange while out for a walk and spin from them a story. Ideas are everywhere, if you care to look for them.