Monday, April 12, 2021

Getting back to work

Happy Monday to you from Douglas Skelton in a sunny but chilly Scotland.

As you know, I have been moving house. And if you didn't know, where have you been? Do you not pay attention when I'm talking? Yes, I mean you at the back there. Stop your giggling and behave!

I am now fully ensconsed in my new bolthole, having swapped the peace and quiet of rural Scotland for the excitement and traffic noise of the big city (the new place is Glasgow adjacent).

With the house now in some semblance of order. Books are shelved, pictures are hung, rugs are down and shampooed. Mickey the dog and Tom the cat are more or less settled.

Time now turn my mind to the day job.

That's writing, just in case you didn't realise. 

I have a new book to complete by July. I hit the halfway mark of the first draft just before all the moving madness began but now it's time to pick of those threads and see if I can weave them into something magical. Or at least readable. Or, at the very least, completed.

Halting a work in progress in the middle is a double-edged sword. On the one hand there is the danger that whatever muse was working to get me to the midway mark has flitted elsewhere and alighted on some other writer's brow. 

On the other hand, the break may help me see the piece more clearly and let me attack it with renewed vigor. Or something. (And I hope you noticed I used the US spelling there. I am nothing if not considerate.)

Time will tell, I suppose.

I've used the word time three times so far. Where's an editor when you need one?

I mentioned the muse earlier. People often think of such a thing in relation to creatives.

Here's the thing...

It doesn't really exist.

Writing is a job, at least it is to me. Sometimes it's a chore. It's something I do. It's how I (try to) make a living.

Inspiration - the muse - is that flash at the beginning of the process. In other words, the idea. The big 'What if...?'

After that, it's application. Sitting at the desk, thumping those keys. I'm a two-fingered typist and I tend to poke at the keyboard as if I'm trying to prod it awake. 

The work progresses one letter, one word, one sentence, one paragraph at a time. Sometimes it's as slow as molasses in January. (Yup, another US reference). Other times it flows

Oh, dear. I can't think of a simile. 

This does not bode well for getting back to work on Monday.

Writing is something you work at. Books do not appear as if guided by some unseen hand. It has to be written and rewritten, honed, edited, smoothed, manipulated. In our genre (crime, just in case you've wandered in off the street) clues have to be dropped with the kind of legerdemain that could give us membership of the Magic Circle. Twists have to be twisted so subtly that no-one sees them coming. Characters have to step off the page and walk around the room. Dialogue has to sing (not literally, unless you're pulling a Rodgers and Hammerstein. Or Cop Rock. Remember that? Steve Bochco's short-lived show which saw cops burst into song, literally on the beat.)

So by the time you read this on Monday I will have selected a suitable soundtrack and will be back in the Highlands and Islands of Scotland. Back with Rebecca Connolly and her friends. Back, this time, in a dark world of murder and magic.

Cover me - I'm going in...


Caro said...

OR if I have a break, I seem to dream up a totally different plot and confuse myself. Which isn't difficult!

Douglas Skelton said...

I can believe that!

Rick Blechta said...

So how about a photo of the new digs? We'd all love to see.

Anna said...

And please include a photo of Tom the cat looking happy (cats don't like change they didn't initiate, so let's see proof!).