I found today’s writing quote very helpful. Yesterday I got through a fair amount of work, including 1400 words of the novel, not a bad word-count for an afternoon – but was I happy? No. The last thing I wrote in my diary was: ‘Why is writing so horrible, why don’t I enjoy it more?’
I guess when I write a first draft, particularly of a novel (this is not so true of short stories and not at all true of poetry where the beginnings are the most exciting part) I have no clue where I’m going. I simply write what comes – and often, what comes seems either irrelevant or completely mad. I was once compelled to write a scene where Father Christmas turns out to be a convict in disguise. He meets Jack and Jill and gives them presents of ice and snow; eventually Jill penetrates his disguise and the scene ends with Father Christmas saying ‘Ho ho ho!’ in an evil and yet hopeless way. I wrote that scene twenty years ago and I still have no idea what it means. Maybe one day it’ll come to me.
One thing that is particularly scary, especially for the new writer, is the thought that you may reveal yourself in ways you are not aware of but which the reader will notice. For example, at a writers’ group I once attended there was a male writer of crime fiction. He read his stories out regularly and they made us all very uncomfortable as in every one a woman was horribly murdered or mutilated. Eventually when this was pointed out to him, that all his female characters came to a very sticky end at the hands of the men, it was a real tumbleweed moment: there was a horrible silence as it dawned on him that he was acting out revenge fantasies in his fiction.
So today’s writing quote was this: ‘I’m writing a first draft and reminding myself that I’m simply shovelling sand into a box so that I can make a sand-castle later.’
This is very helpful when you are writing a novel based on the Fibonacci sequence of numbers where every chapter is as long as the previous two added together and you have no clue what you’re doing.