Monday, June 08, 2020

People Need Books

The recent traumatic events of one kind and another have impacted on us all in so many different ways.  Grief, sickness, anger, loneliness  - despair, even.

Yet through it all, people need books.  We read for comfort, for distraction, for information, for whatever may blunt the pain of reality.  Maybe just for something to pass the long slow hours of the day.

So someone has to write them.  We're authors.  It's our job.  But it's been very clear, both here and on other social media, that writers have been finding it hard.  There doesn't seem to be any satisfactory reason why so many of us have struggled and progress on the WIP has slowed to a crawl.

It is only this week that the infection numbers here have slowed to allow a slight relaxation in the lockdown.  Very slight, but last week it meant that we could have a civilised, if socially-distanced, drink with friends in the garden, go to a garden centre for plants to fill the garden pots and with suitable precautions meet family.

And what a difference it made!  I sat down at my desk this week feeling upbeat, and suddenly the words were flowing.  It was such a relief, particularly since this is the first time I've set off on a book with very little idea of where it was going to go.

I've been what you'd probably call a cautious pantser - setting off with the shape of the book in mind, though ready to change direction if that was what felt right.  I was pretty scared about it, and when the virus came in it managed to make my problems worse.  There were lots of four am panics when I thought about throwing away even what I'd managed to write so far.

But now I've discovered the joy of pantsing. The story's unfolding and I'm excited every day to get to my desk and find out where it's going to take me.  I just wish I could write faster.

Would I do the next book the same way?  I don't know.  The bad times were very bad,  and could I really be sure that next time the plot and the characters will be so obliging?  I'll have to wait to find out.


Ellen said...

So true! Just saw a quote that has motivated me a bit: “Reading gives us someplace to go when we have to stay where we are.” — Mason Cooley

I need to write. I need to read. It's all in finding the best balance, right?

Thanks for a great, thoughtful post!

Aline Templeton said...

Thanks, Ellen. Your quote is so true, and the emails from readers that I most treasure are the ones who say a book of mine has helped when they couldn't go someplace else for some reason. It's such a great privilege for us to be given.