30th April 2014

A Surprising and  Sparkly New Idea

As those of you who read my last blog post here will know, my latest two children’s manuscripts have gone out into the big wide world of agents and I have been filling my time with lots of other things and giving the grey matter a bit of a holiday. This is crucial for me as:
1) Other important stuff (yes, really, there IS other important stuff) needed doing
2) I needed head space in order to know what I wanted to do next
3) I value my sanity

This can be a bit of a battle as ideas pop in and out all the time and I just have to say “No” and stamp my feet at some of them, most of them, because there aren’t enough notebooks / hours in the day, and sometimes because I know that there isn’t enough in that thought or idea to hang a story from. It’s hard to admit it to yourself, but some of those ideas are, put plain and simply, pants!

Bedside notebookThen, on Monday night, something happened. Now, this isn’t the first time that in the wee, small hours I have suddenly come up with an idea. In fact, it seems that once my mind stills and begins to empty, that BUMF! There it is – a surprising and sparkly new idea. This is one of the reasons I have a notepad and pen by my bed (I heartily recommend it.) Well, on this particular night, just as I was drifting off to sleep a cluster of 66 words (yes, I have counted them) popped into my head. I forced my eyes open, fumbled for the light switch and quickly wrote the words down in my little notebook before collapsing into slumber with my cuddly tigger.

The next morning, I tentatively opened my notebook (grimace already set on face in preparation for utter twoddle) and read back the 66 words. Mmmm, I thought, mmmm. I then read them out to my daughter, explaining that this was the opening to an adult ? crossover novel. She said “Awww! That’s so sweet.” It is quite a profound opening. My dort is twelve – she ‘got’ it. I then had to walk the hound, and go out and about, and the surprising and sparkly new idea kept bursting and reproducing, so much so that mid dog walk and having pulled up in the car, I rambled into my phone recorder (I have only just discovered I have one!) and suddenly realised that, really, this wasn’t a surprising and sparkly new idea at all… well, it kind of was, but it was also the culmination of something from my teenage years, a blog post I had read in the last week and a string of incidents which have also culminated in the last few days. It also hones in on philosophies on life that I hold dear and that have been at the forefront of my mind lately – remarkably, like a murmuration of starlings, they have all come together at once, with each wing of thought shifting with the rest.

And here’s another thing, I have been in a bit of a dark place with my writing lately (and no, I don’t mean the metaphorical writing cave) – those horrible feelings of lack of self-worth, of wondering ‘Why?’ have been playing games with me!  Then I watched a video, which a friend posted on Facebook and which you can see here – it’s from TED (whose videos are really inspiring, by the way) and is author Elizabeth Gilbert talking about ‘Eat, Pray, Love’ and about those two evils – success and failure. I’ll be honest, in my current state and following a week of rejections, there was a tear or two (mine not hers, although I have no doubt she’s had her own fair share.) Watching this came at a time when it needed to come and it reminded me that there are things I need to remember – and alway remember – who I am and why I love writing sooooo much, and why I am just plain lost, like a fish trying to suck the water from a blade of grass, without it. As if this all isn’t serendipitous enough, I have a handful of characters who I have been unable to place, or who have figured in other ideas not brought to fruition, who can now be brought together in what seems to me the perfect place.

I have a beginning and I have an end- I have no idea how my protagonist is going to get from the beginning to the end, but, already, his hand sits in mine, so I have a feeling it will all be okay.

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12 responses to “30th April 2014

  1. Haha, hello Abi! Great minds today again! We should just have one blog between us and save ourselves the bother! As well as our blogging philosophicals, I’m also writing about that dark place in my current wip, ‘When a writer isn’t writing’ 🙂

  2. I’m so pleased that your 66 words have fanned the flames and provided light and warmth in your cave. I hope you’ll be out of the cave very soon!
    I don’t think it matters what line of work or even hobby one’s into, unless you have total confidence in your abilities, there will all ways (and I believe should always be) wobbles. Without wobbles there is arrogance, which is never endearing or pleasant. Its wobbles and dark times which make you and many of my writer and/or artist friends as wonderful as you are at what you do.

  3. Aw, what a lovely response, Dianne – thank you. I agree, those wobbles make us who we are and make us even more determined to overcome the obstacles. As long as we’re creating, and are happy doing so, it has to be good!

  4. Good for you Abi.

    Sometimes I don’t want another idea unless it will be ‘THE’ idea that will lead straight to something… But you never know if you don’t go with it, do you? And it sound like for you, lots of what you might have thought was left-over flotsam is coming together to find a community of purpose. Add a handful of previous dead-ends together and they might just start to lead somewhere interesting…

    • It does make you think, Martin, doesn’t it? I don’t think any of these ideas are every truly wasted – they either lead to something else or can be added in, or maybe find an outlet in another creative pursuit. I’d like to think they all have some meaning. I like the idea of a community of purpose 🙂

  5. I agree with your previous response — no ideas are truly wasted! My current WIP came from such a teeny tiny memory that it astonished me when it grew into 97K pages. Like you, I realized that the story came from lots of different places and ideas that had been sitting there for years. As for self doubt, it abounds plenty. Right now I’m feeling it and avoiding the final draft of my work, but I know tomorrow will be a better day (or the day after). We have to hang on to that. And to the beginnings and ends helping us get to the everything in betweens. Happy writing, Abi, fab post!

  6. Hi Julia! Thank you 🙂 Yes, these little fragments somehow connect don’t they? And big bahhh humbugs to that horrible self-doubt – you will do that final draft because we always do it in the end don’t we? Lots of luck with it!

    • Thank you Abi! Your words really help. Here I am, dragging my heels on social networking instead of attacking the manuscript. Loved your Twitter comments about putting on our big boots to stamp our doubt… or as my friend Pam says: “Time to put on my big girl panties” 🙂

  7. Aw, bless you, Julia. It’s not easy, but yes, sometimes we do just have to tough up and give the buggers what for (as we say over here… or maybe it’s just me who says it 😀 )

  8. Don’t you love when those words come…usually late at night, lol. I woke the other morning having had a rather startlingly vivid dream from the protagonist’s POV…and after repeating it to my daughters was told emphatically to go write it down…now! So it’ll sit there now while I edit my current WIP, and maybe even the next one, but it’s there…waiting, ’til the right time!
    Keep at it Abi, we’re in a tough business, but it’s worth it! x

  9. Thank you, Lisa. I love it when those dream-thoughts happen, and you’re right, it is a very tough business – good job we have skins like elephant hides 😉 x

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