A new way of writing
Writing has always been a solitary experience for me – part of my love for it in a way, even from being in my teens, sat gazing out of a window and scribbling down angst ridden words of unrequited love… that kind of nonsense… and until recently, I have continued to write in isolation, predominantly from my writing chair, or whichever room I happen to be in when an idea strikes, making handwritten notes before becoming insepearable from my laptop.
However, my new WIP (work in progress) is asking for something else. This manuscript involves a different way of writing, one that I find incredibly exciting and that impacts on the WIP at every turn and in the most amazing ways. I hadn’t realised, initially, that this novel would need such a different approach, but it soon became clear just what the potential was for experimentation. This novel won’t write itself from the confines of a house or the car when I’m waiting to pick the kids up. This novel needs me to find my wings, and suddenly, and very surprisingly, I have gone from being a ‘stagnant’ solitary writer, to a ‘writer on the move’ with other people to bounce off.
Needless to say, I took a wee trip to Somerset a fortnight ago as part of this ‘adventure’. I
wrote page after page on railway platforms, on the 6 trains I took in total for my journey there and back, which have now become the basis for one of the chapters. I wrote a few lines in a wonderful cafe in Glastonbury, that I know will appear somewhere in the book, and I formulated a whole scene from a visit to Glastonbury Tor and the cathedral ruins. It literally sprang up and blew across me like a cold north wind. I took stacks of photos too, and used these later to weave other ideas into the scenes. I’m going to put these in with the growing manuscript – it has its own folder now – along with other notes and bits and pieces I gather along the way.
On Saturday, I spent an hour and a half in a Morrisons’ cafe and filled 8 pages of my notebook while people-watching and listening to Lana Del Rey (wonderful cd by the way). Strangely, a character from an early scene of the novel appeared, as if by magic, just as I’d visualised him, which was a tad disconcerting.
Yesterday, I explored an area of Derbyshire, visited places I have never been, gathered fragments of history, imagined the past, moved my characters around it and put words into there mouths. It was utterly inspiring. There are many other scenes sparked by situations and settings… but I’m not going to spoil it by saying any more.
But I am finding, that for the first time of in my years of writing, this is a story which is really coming alive – filled with real people, real places, with photos as memory joggers – memories captured and held. Already, 12,000 words in, it has become a living, breathing thing, more than anything else I’ve ever worked on. To say I am exhilerated by this project – and it is a project – is an understatement. I feel as if, after years of writing, I have discovered ‘the secret’, whispered to me quietly when I least expected it. Whatever happens to this book, it is the biggest part of my journey yet, so liberating and so full of energy and wonderful memories that it’ll stay with me forever.
There will be more trips to more places, more trains… who knows where? I may even find myself in another country. I have found my wings!
What is your approach to writing? Do you prefer to write alone, from home, or spread your wings for inspiration?