I haven’t been up to much lately. Maybe due to the weather. We’re in Cambridge right now – one day bright and freezing, the next day mild and wet. Both of which induce me to hibernate. There ought to be a law against weather like this. Of course, when Britain gains full control of its destiny after Brexit, such a law will be passed straightaway and the future will be eternally sunny.
Or it could be the change in routine. Two weeks ago, our second granddaughter was born so we’re busy trying to entertain the first, who now has a rival Centre of the Universe to contend with. As a result, it’s harder to retreat to my own universe to write.
Without the routine, concentration is elusive. It’s like playing golf with a ping-pong ball. Not that I’ve ever done that. Nor even with a golf ball. Or actually, yes, I did try once, but the divots flew further than the ball. When I’d finished, they had to replant the whole fairway.
Anyway, you see what I mean. In order to write, concentration has to be swift, straight and compact, soaring unerringly to the green. But right now, it’s blown into the rough at the slightest breeze. Or adorable granddaughter’s clamour for attention.
I adapt. No point continuing draft three of the WIP – it’s precisely the stage where concentration needs to be maximum. But since not writing at all is an impossibility,* instead I dream up a different story altogether. You don’t have to concentrate for that because you’re not actually writing. You’re just imagining characters, settings and plot. It’s the idea stage, which is wonderful because at that point you’re convinced it’ll turn into a masterpiece. It’s only when you start to write that disillusionment sets in.
I’m going to invent an app. You upload your idea, click on ‘Transform’ and three minutes later you have a novel. Or a film, if you prefer. In the premium version, you’ll be able to choose the actors.
My latest idea is a love story and ghost story that flits between the present and 1855. Brilliant, isn’t it? The main character is Samuel, who’ll be played by Ralph Fiennes. Or maybe Daniel Day-Lewis, I haven’t quite decided.
* A more serious, more complete analysis of the compulsion to write can be found in Carl Reed’s latest post on the Writers’ Co-op.