Friday 25 March 2011

The Writing Process

So, I've mentioned the subject of my Book and talked a little about various other topics, but what about the writing process itself?

Well, the underlying idea for this Book was born many years ago when I was bored in an old job. I began thinking about an origin story for a fantasy world and began to write it.
That story led to a thought about how the origin story might impact on the "Present Day" in that world, and various ideas and themes came to my mind.
Being Irish, and the conflict in Northern Ireland being unresolved at that time (yes it was that long ago), religious conflict came to mind. My star sign (Gemini) made me think about twins and things started to come together.

However, I didn't get far with the actual story - several false starts left me with a couple of Chapter 1s and Chapter 2s that owed far too much to the exposition in the Lord of the Rings' "Shadow in the Dark" chapter, so I ended up abandoning much of it.

I returned a few more times over the next 5 years or so, restarting and then abandoning different approaches, trying to play with narrative devices such as telling the story from a first-person perspective but each chapter having a different voice, our just rewriting the whole story again.
It was never satisfactory, and worst of all, Chapter1 was always awful.

Then I got made redundant from a job and found myself with time to kill.

I used to go to a cage in the court and sit down with my laptop and bash out words until something worked. I hit upon an opening scene that I really liked - an old mam trudging wearily through snow to meet his friends in an inn, where the troubles if the world would be discussed.
And largely, that scene is still intact.

But the main decision I made during this process was: keep writing!! 

I had been paralysed on occasions in the past - had spent so long re-reading and re-writing chapters that I had never got past the first couple and then got disillusioned when they weren't perfect.
What I hadn't realised was that there was one key ingredient missing: Practice.

So when I had that opportunity I used it to practice. And that meant writing from the start and continuing until I got to the next scene and the next and the next.
Of course, that doesn't mean I didn't rewrite, but I didn't allow myself to get stuck.

And that meant that I got better.

With writing, as with everything else in life, practice is the key.
Whether your thing is to write, or to knit or to play football or guitar or anything, you don't get better by watching your keyboard, your knitting needles, your football or your guitar. You get better by using them.

And now, several hundred thousand words, innumerable drafts of various versions of my story, abandoned concepts, stylistic flourishes and idiotic diversions later, I feel like I'm now approaching the possibility that I might be able to start producing the story that's in my head.

I'll come back over the weekend to talk about something different. Not sure what yet, but it'll be fascinating, I'm sure. Until then,

Take care!

Mad Iguana...........

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