Wednesday 25th September
I wrote the first draft of Catherines Story many years ago. When it was finished I tucked it away, unedited and neglected, resurrecting and largely re-writing it only a few years later. I was temporarily unemployed at the time; it was summer and I can remember sitting in the garden with a pot of tea, and a large A4 hard-backed notebook, where in my almost illegible writing I wrote the story. The strange thing is that the book largely wrote itself. At times I was simply hanging on to the pen as it raced across the page. The words were spilling out of me; I had no idea where the story would take me. As it happens it took me up a dead-end, a weak ending that left me up a creek without a paddle. It was only years later that I saw my way out of problem and first wrote the correct ending, and then went back and mostly re-wrote the book itself.
I started writing my second book a couple of years ago, and had a few false starts. I couldn’t find the format, there was some good stuff in there; I liked the idea of the story, but couldn’t see a way to make it work as a real book. I kept putting it away, then getting it out again and tinkering with it, even ludicrously interspersing it with poems and other drivel from myself as narrator. Then suddenly it hit me how to write the book. But it was hard work, from the beginning. It never quite flowed as Catherine had. I am still quite unsure of it. I have parked it for the moment, in fact I have paid for it to be professionally reviewed; the results of that review are coming soon. I am not sure what I should be prepared for. Can I face yet another re-write?
Instead I took a short exercise of writing I had done for writing class (now abandoned) and expanded it. In no time at all, this new story took on a life of its own. It too is writing itself. Of course I have to think through the plot, but I have that quite well pinned down now. It will need a re-write, as many of the ideas I wrote about in the earlier sections have now to be amended after writing near the end –zone. Over this last trip to France I couldn’t put it down; it just seemed to overtake me.
When you are in the middle of writing something, especially a novel, you really have no idea how other people will read it, appreciate it, get your ideas. But this is book number three now, I feel I am starting to get into my stride, and it certainly helps when the book is writing itself.