So, let’s get started, shall we? As previously declared, I’m starting a new novel today, a hopefully quite literate horror novel, set in Edinburgh during the early Nineteenth century. I’ll be blogging about it extensively as I go, through writing, editing, and hopefully selling it. You might get some insights into, if not the writing process as a generic system, then at least how it works for me. If not, you can at least enjoy a voyeuristic satisfaction in watching me beat my head against the plot, the actual writing, the editing, and various publisher and agent doors over the next few months. Actually, if nobody buys the thing, we could be at this for years…
But keep that one to yourself, okay? It’s the first day of a new project, and motivation is high. I’m owed at least a week or two before it plummets again.
The reason that today is the start point is that, for various reasons, I’ve got most of the rest of this month off the day job, at the same time as my wife and daughter are still plugging away at the office and school. That gives me the sitting-at-home time required to make a good start on the book. The month won’t be entirely uninterrupted, of course – in particular, I get a week off over Christmas, which I intend to spend wandering around Thailand. With the rest of the time though, I’ll be doing my best to get as much on paper as I can. There are no ambitions to finish in that time, as I’m sensing this isn’t a short book, but if I can get some chapters done and some momentum built, I’ll be a happy writer.
Today is all about research and plotting. I (obviously – careful at the back) wasn’t around during the period I’m writing in. I’ve a passing familiarity with the streets of Edinburgh, particularly the Old Town where the novel takes place, but I want to step back almost two hundred years, and that’s meant research. I’ve never had to research a book as much as I have this one, and I’ve discovered the first truth of the job. The more you research something that you don’t know much about, the more questions arise, and the more research you have to do. Over the last couple of weeks I’ve read extensively, and taken many notes. That’s what I’m doing this morning as well. By that point, I’ll have to stop. Research is as long as a piece of string. At some point, you just have to cease, declare that you have enough string for your purposes, and get on with the job.
This afternoon, I’m fleshing out character sketches (there are a lot of them) and a loose chapter breakdown. These are only starting points for the novel, and as it develops its own voice and hungers, I’ll ignore them more and more, and let the book have its head. Right now, it’s useful to see before I start that, yes, there really is a book there. One I want to write. One that, if I have the skill to write it as I see it (not a given, by any means), I can be extremely proud of.
I mentioned a few weeks back that when the idea dropped into my head halfway through a day at the coal face, I couldn’t keep the smile off my face, and had to frantically Google when I got home to make sure nobody else had written it. They hadn’t, so I’m going to. Stick around, and see what happens.