Sunday, 21 September 2008

End of Part One

I am feeling mildly pleased with myself: 44,ooo words are in the bag and Part One of my new novel is in the post to my agent. I want feedback, of course. I want to know I’m on the right track. I also want a reward; a pat on the back. I'm nearly halfway through the new book and am going to treat myself to a break from staring at my lap top screen.
The morning is too beautiful to ignore. This is it, everyone, our Indian summer. I haul my rusty, trusty old bike out of the shed, brush off the spider webs and hope nothing eight-legged and sinister is lurking under the seat. I pump up the tyres, fill my water bottle, put on all the gear… it takes so long! Nearly give up and think I’ll just go for a run instead. But at last I am whizzing, wheezing, out of my little home town into deep Chiltern countryside. The thing about "round here" is that it is very hilly. I have to plan my route with care to keep the tally low. Without going all "Country File" on you, it really is exquisitely beautiful. Towering hedgerows, shaded copses, glittering meadows. Scarlet rosehips, glowing blackberries, leaves on the turn.
Whenever I set out early on a Sunday morning, there are always joggers, dog walkers and horse riders who all nod and say "morning". It’s like a little smug gang up and about so early, not a hangover in sight. And, as I heave my way up a particularly brutal slope, I am guaranteed to be lapped by an old boy in his sixties, thin as a whippet, clad head to toe in lycra, zipping past on his racer like a streak of lightning.
I know I’ve probably gone too far when, instead of enjoying my surroundings, I start thinking about getting home for a cup of tea and a slice of cake. But, I keep telling myself, all this peddling is good for the mind as well as the body. When I finally reach the brow of a hill and see the lane falling away into the valley below, I know this is my reward. I lift up my feet and free wheel, whooping like a little girl. As I pick up speed and hurtle down the slope, ideas and imagination flow, and writer’s block is blown clean away, just like all those cobwebs and the odd lurking spider that decided to hitch a lift.

Monday, 8 September 2008

A Season of Leaves, week one

Hello and welcome to my first-ever blog. How exciting is this? Well, it is for me, so please bear with me. As the description on the title page of my blog explains, I am a budding author and my first novel, A Season of Leaves, has hit the shelves. How hard, is difficult to assess, and I think, as a first-time, little-known writer, it's going to be a slow burner. Let's be realistic here.
When I finally pull myself away from checking it out on Amazon, I will get on with writing novel #2. I am 31,000 words in, and counting, and have taken this week off work (ie my day job, which I shouldn't give up yet) to try to increase the amount of words to satisfy my agent, my deadline - and indeed myself.
I pull myself out of bed, make a cup of tea, and force myself to sit at the computer before day to day worryings get in the way of creative flow. Sometimes, the words and phrases - and plotlines and characters having conversations all on their own - are there, like a tenuous, barely remembered dream, just within my grasp. If I think about anything, like putting the washing on or feeding my cat, they've gone. But I write, therefore I am. So I have to do it. And it can be lonely. Joanna Trollope has said that writers often feel they are outsiders, and I agree. I sit back and absorb and remember. And scribble unintelligable notes in notebooks that invariably get left on Tube station platforms. And then, there is that moment when it all slips away. I think that's called writer's block and normally hits me around 5pm, when I save everything, put it on my 'memory stick' and go downstairs for a glass of wine. I wish I could give up my day job for this.