Sunday, 1 July 2012

The Joy of Writing

On March 6th I started writing a new novel; the first really new story with new characters and a new setting for about three years. On June 30th I finished it. I pushed myself really hard but my deadlines were all self-imposed. I'd already shown an outline to Lovely Agent and we'd discussed it, but as I'm still unpublished, she has no desperate need for it. The need came entirely from myself.

So I got thinking. Why did I need to write it and why did I set myself a relatively short amount of time in which to finish the first draft? Why the hurry? Funnily enough, it was not a burning desire to be published, although that would be very nice, thank you. Nor was it because I thought that this was the novel the world had been waiting for. The reasons were all about me!

1) To prove that I could. I've spent the past three years writing The Apothecary's Apprentice in various forms and plot lines. As much as I loved it, it will never see the light of day, and that's OK. But I needed to know that I could write different characters, different settings, different plots, and I needed to know that I could love those just as much if not more than that poor, over-worked story I'd just ditched. And I needed to know that it wouldn't take me another three years to do it!

2) Because I grew to love my new world and my new characters. I really did. I loved getting to know them, I loved the ever growing internal map that I'd been building, and I loved the way everything blossomed, grew, illuminated itself. I can walk the corridors of my house as though I've physically been there. I can have conversations with my new characters and they will talk back. I know it. The more I wrote, the more I wanted to write, and the more I wanted to give my characters their resolution.

3) Because I enjoyed the process. I approached this novel in a slightly different way, a less structured way. As I said, I had an outline, and Lovely Agent and I had discussed it. I started writing knowing where I was going. Normally I plot out every chapter, every detail before I write. This time I let things happen more organically. If the scene I was intending to write turned into a scene with its own agenda, I gave it freedom. If characters wanted to wriggle free of their set traits, I let them. If new characters wrote themselves onto the page, I went with them. The latter third of the story changed several times as the characters grew and the world gained depth. The story I ended up writing is not the one I set out to write, but I can honestly say it's far better this way. I've learned an awful lot from the writing process and it's been so much fun.

So there you have it. I have a first draft. I know there are changes, I know I have a lot of work ahead, but if the revision process is as enjoyable as the first draft I know that I'll love every minute of it. And, of course, I need a new deadline - good draft ready to send to Lovely Agent in September. Please feel free to remind me!


  1. Good to hear you've moved onto something new. So easy to get bogged down on one project. Good luck with the revisions.

  2. Sue I am so pleased for you. Seems like we have both been setting ourselves crazy deadlines. I was really interested to see that you have tried a different approach too. Can't wait to read it. I love the sound of it. I know you don't give a real description but it is the way you describe the development of inner maps, characters and story that intrigued me. Go get'em Sue. Hope the Lovely Agent loves it

  3. Congratulations and well done, Sue!
    And, as Ness says, hope Lovely Agent loves it!


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