Friday 23 January 2009

Back in the room

It’s been a while. During the dark days of December and January I may have been hibernating – and neglecting my blog – but I have been productive in other ways. Apart from completing my tax return (or having my accountant do it: note to self, I owe Alistair Darling 94 pence), I have finished my second novel.
They’re right about "second album/novel" syndrome. Yes, Tides of the Moon (working title) has been harder to write, because expectations are that much higher all round.
However, let me get three things straight: this second novel is not:
a) a sequel to A Season of Leaves (although it is also set during the Second World War; there is so much scope for drama, I find, in a time of crisis).
b) autobiographical (although, one would argue, all that angst must come from somewhere and my therapist would certainly agree).
c) a walk in the park (in fact, completing it has been one of the hardest things I have ever done).

The story is darker than A Season of Leaves, perhaps more personal to me. And there are certainly some moments where the only way for my characters has to be up.
When I am writing a low period for my characters, when they are experiencing a traumatic episode, I tend to set these chapters in the winter time. This happens unconsciously, naturally, almost without me realising. But when their fortunes improve, and they emerge from depression or general muddle, it happens as spring unfolds and summer is opening out before them.

Ever the optimist, I am now looking for the black mornings to lighten by degrees and am waiting eagerly for my indoor hyacinths to release their perfume. I am wondering how matted my long-haired fluffy cat’s winter coat will become before I can take him to the vet for a clipping. Last year he emerged looking a little bit like a poodle. I can’t wait for birdsong, and the new buds that poke out miraculously from seemingly dead wood on the grapevine outside my back door. Now is the time to sweep up the metaphoric fallen leaves from last year, use them as a nourishing mulch and start afresh. I can’t wait for inspiration to strike. I’m waiting….

Novel number three is lurking in there somewhere. And when the characters walk out of the dark and introduce themselves to me, when the story begins to turn corners in my mind, it’s like greeting a long lost friend. So watch this blog.

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