Monday, November 30, 2015

The wee small hours

I'm just reaching the stage of my latest book when I always feel poised on the edge of panic. Having worked all this time to create a complex plot with twists, turns and an elusive perpetrator, it has now reached the stage when I have to bring all the threads together to provide a neat conclusion.

It's not so bad when I'm actually at my desk and I can work to my guiding principle, 'Follow the Story'. It's when I wake in those dark hours of the night when it's hard to keep a sense of proportion and toss and turn with my head full of my characters and their problems and become convinced that this time I really have painted myself into corner and the whole thing has now become so complicated that I can't unravel it.

Of course I could get up there and then and go back to my desk but on the whole I don't find this a very good solution; there's still the next day to get through and an exhausted author isn't a very good one.

The solution is clearly to work longer hours during the day and let the story sort itself out in the obliging way it always has before. The only problem is the other things that get in the way.

Like Book Week, Scotland. Scotland has a very enlightened approach to the Arts and there is a system whereby libraries can apply for funding to host a speaker. The speaker is paid £150 to do an event; the Scottish Book Trust will pay half of that and also for travel and accommodation if necessary and Book Week attracts a lot of funding.

I love doing library events – and not only because I'm paid. I think in the many I've done over the years, I have only once had a leaden audience and never a difficult one. They are usually hugely responsive and you are often talking to people who don't really have the money to buy all the books they would like to read and are truly enthusiastic and appreciative. The library will often also arrange to have books on sale for signing and we're now into the ‘Happy Christmas’ inscriptions with people buying for friends and family.

So what's not to like? There is just the small problem that while you're having a lovely time with people who will actually laugh and clap and then tell you how much they love your books you're not sitting at your desk getting on with it – and  that night again there's the wee small hours torment.

And then there's the run up to Christmas, with family descending from three different directions and expecting food over an extended period, and they tend to expect presents as well ...

But unless they're going to have a hostess who falls asleep over the turkey, I'm going to have to hope that the brilliant ending I'm hoping for is vouchsafed to me within the next few days.


Anonymous said...

Plotting at night has led me all sorts of directions, but I hate it when I get stuck in a rabbit hole. I'm in the middle of a rewrite where I might have taken the wrong turning. Getting back to the ending might be... interesting.

Maybe that's the price of being a writer - except I'm still struggling to get beyond the debut novel that failed with the reviewers.

Hoping that you find that brilliant ending soon.

Aline Templeton said...

Thanks so much for that kind wish, Roland. And don't despair - my debut novel Had that problem and I've always refused to let anyone reprint it!

Donis Casey said...

I wish American libraries and the like were as obliging with the honoraria as the Scots. You are so right about the events, fun as they are, getting in the way of the work. I have the same problem with feeling like the story is too complicated and howEVER is my protagonist going to figure it out. And yet like you noted, the story does magically seem to work itself out. It will this time, too. Won't it?

Charlotte Hinger said...

Like Donis I'm so impressed the generosity of your libraries. Kansas libraries have been hard hit by budget cuts. Good luck with all your events.