Friday, August 27, 2010

First Steps

Just a quicky today, since I am up to the neck in the new book.

Progress report: I am on schedule at the end of my second week to complete the first 30,000 words. As those of you who follow the blog will know, I get up at 6am and write 3000 words a day. Two nights ago, however, I woke at 3am, my head full of the story, and couldn’t get back to sleep. So I finally got up at four and just went to work.

It’s a great time of day to be writing. No one comes to the door, no one phones or emails. You know the rest of the world is asleep, and you can safely lose yourself in the world of your book. Which in this case is the Outer Hebrides of Scotland, and 1950s Edinburgh. It’s a journey in space and time which I am enjoying very much.

My journey will be interrupted, however, on Monday when I have to go up to Paris for a script conference with the movie producers who are making a film of one of my books. An eight-hour return journey by train will allow me to do plenty of thinking, but I will make up for the lost writing day by taking one day (the Saturday) out of my next weekend, so that I can keep to my schedule.

I find that creating a routine, and making a strict schedule for yourself that you always stick to, is the best way of getting through the journey.

And the travel metaphor brings me round to John’s post yesterday about the first step in your journey - the opening paragraph. So for the record, here’s the first step on my current journey...

On this storm-lashed island three hours off the north-west coast of Scotland, what little soil exists gives the people their food and their heat. It also takes their dead. And very occasionally, as today, gives one up.

And my favourite opening sentence of all time (though the rest of the book didn’t quite match up), comes from Gabriel Garcia Marquez and “One Hundred Years of Solitude”...

Many years later, as he faced the firing squad, Colonel Aureliano Buendia was to remember that distant afternoon when his father took him to discover ice.

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