The (new) plan
Maybe there are just some things we have to learn over and over again.
I am not, and have never been, the most organised person. The piles of books I mentioned last week are just one small example. As is my general inability to find what I am looking for when I really need it. In fairness, putting a camera flash in the drawer where sundry running accessories go might not have been down to me.
It’s not that I don’t think it’s a good idea to have plans for some things, it’s just that it’s not how I think. I did my PhD by figuring out what I needed to know or find out as I went along, and then going and finding it out. It worked out fine and I was never bored, maybe because I was never quite sure myself what was coming next.
But it turns out that the same approach doesn’t necessarily lend itself to writing a novel. I have a lot of material I’ve written. An awful lot. And – despite the inconsistencies – some of it actually works together. But while some of the parts are, I hope, worth keeping, the whole doesn’t hang together and there is far too much that will never fit in.
So I have stopped churning out words for a bit. And the wallpaper has come out, which is an improvement on the A3 sheets I was using before to try to put some structure around my disjointed ideas.
Yes, it’s a piece of wallpaper – and some very small writing!
So before I write another word, I am figuring out how I get everybody from where they start to where it all ends, from one end of the wallpaper to the other. And this includes deciding where the starting point is. I can take it back two generations before some of the characters were born – useful writing exercises, but not helpful for the task in hand. But having a structure around everything is probably the only way I’m going to avoid the tangents I keep going down. Even though they are so interesting and I want to see where they lead. The trouble is they don’t lead towards the end, or even to what happens next. They just take me somewhere that I can’t get out of.
I have now accepted that I need the whole to work, into which the pieces fit. Otherwise it just won’t work. Then I can get back to the writing part and this time not waste so much time on fascinating irrelevancies! And I get to look at some beautiful paperweights at the same time – the solution to automatically curling wallpaper!