Monday, 15 August 2011

The Weekend Novelist

I spent the weekend as the Novelist I keep reminding myself that I am. Working on a novel makes me happy, makes me feel I'm part of something bigger than myself. When I'm actually writing it feels like meditation. It's the worrying about writing that makes me unhappy. I wish I would remember this ...

Saturday I wrote my morning pages (3 pages of A4 in longhand as prescribed in the Artist's Way) in bed; had breakfast in the garden, reading a Virginia Woolf biography; spent time with my novel,doing exercises from The Weekend Novelist; went jogging; had dinner; spent a couple of hours working on the novel; went for a walk on the seafront to look at the full moon, contemplating my characters.

Sunday followed the same kind of pattern, but in the evening I went to Ace Stories at Hotel Pelirocco in Brighton to let myself get inspired by other writers (Cathi Unsworth, Danny Bowman, Stefania Mastrorosa)and outstanding musician & singer Sandy Dillon.

It's not only me who am The Weekend Novelist. It's also the title of a really good book. I previously worked through The Weekend Novelist Redrafts the Novel when I revised UNDER THE LIP, so I thought I'd give The Weekend Novelist a go. Unlike other creative writing books that tell you how to make believable characters and how to make a setting come alive etc. this books is very straight-forward and simple with exercises that gets you going.

I'm not following the book slavishly or anything, but I claim that The Weekend Novelist unblocked me when I was in Sweden. Just by doing exercises like finishing the sentence "This is a story about a character who ..." and then speed writing for ten minutes I really got a sense for where I'm going with my novel.

I'm still struggling with finding the right voice and the right structure, but at least I've started from the beginning again, trusting that things will work out, knowing that I can change things later. For now I'll just focus on getting the story down, staring at the post-it note on my wall saying SHITTY FIRST DRAFTS ARE ALLOWED. Today is Monday and I'm still a novelist. I know I'm on the right track when I do something else and ideas or thoughts about the characters and/or plot pop up in my head.

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