It's not easy-going, though: I write the first sentence that forms in my head, and carry on from there, sometimes writing two or three pages that can only be called bad writing just to get to the good stuff. It's a little demoralising to know that most of what you've just written will end up on the cutting room floor (please insert a better metaphor here), but it's also often the best way to get to the good stuff. I wrote a whole scene before I realised it should be about a completely different character.
I've learnt not to "wait" for inspiration (that rarely comes when you want it to), and know it is best to
sit down at the desk every day, to see if anything has come in
...as I saw Sebastian Faulks quote Alan Bennett once, at the Latitude festival in 2010. But I've noticed some days work better than others. Today, for instance, went well - and came after three days of uninspiring work that will all probably be cut. That can be dispiriting, but sometimes it leads somewhere and you have an idea that will improve it. The only way to get there is to write and not be put off by some of the trudging sentences you come up with.
This week I came up against a particular problem i suspected i had before - given an important scene, one that's been building for a number of chapters, I become (to use a term purloined from psychology) "avoidant". I shirk my responsibility. Avoid writing the crucial sentences, and instead nest the narrative or follow diverting lines of enquiry and thought so that the story is stymied.
I'm unwilling to take the next step, grab the world by the throat and shout (Buh-Buh-Bread).
The scene I've been trying to write all week is arguably the most important in the book: when, more than three quarters of the way through the book, my protagonist finally meets her antagonist. It's the sort of thing Robert McKee gets very worked up about. So I should just get stuck in. These sorts of scenes are the ones we look forward to writing, right?
Except I can't. It should be a stormer of a scene, but I find myself tiptoeing around the swimming pool's edge, afraid to jump in. So I describe the changing room instead, or the foot bath, or the tiresome and incessant thoughts going through my main character's head.
I bore myself, so go to make myself a cup of tea, but not before setting up the next hour of writing by scribbling at the top of the page:
The door opened and there he was.
Anything, anything, just to get on to the next bit. If stand-up taught me anything, it's that comedians spend way too much time worrying about links, and no-one in their audience - no-one - gives a toss how they get from one joke to the next. Just get to the joke.
Plausibility is way overrated.
...this book is going to be a shocker, isn't it.
Word count this week: 6,600 First draft: 118,112