Keep Wanting to Write : a blog by Alice Westlake
Just before Christmas, my second novel Margin of Horror [http://amzn.to/2j4ujmD ] was published. It’s a teen mystery adventure full of action and suspense, a few red herrings, a thoroughly villainous villain, a dead body and some e-books that come to life. The story starts just before Halloween, and finishes at Christmas, with all the scope this affords for adding novelistic colour in the form of bats, ghouls, skeletons, and a warm fuzzy denouement reminiscent of the ending of the Muppet Christmas Carol.
Now, all the razz-ma-tazz of Christmas is over, and snow is falling gently from a grey sky, melting instantly on the sodden London pavement. My mood couldn’t be further from the excitement and fast-paced narrative of a mystery adventure. I just want to hibernate.
Hibernate and write.
Fortunately, I have returned to an old manuscript, one which has always been very dear to my heart and which has been simmering in the background all the time I was writing my first two published works. It is a story of a young teenager who has (probably terminal) cancer, and of how he comes to terms with the idea of fate through reading The Iliad. Throughout the story, it is snowing; but Hakim is not building snowmen and tobogganing. He is watching from his window as it falls soft and silent in a grey sky, the world on mute.
Now I should say that this is a text I have grappled with, and grappled again. It’s probably the best thing I’ve ever written. It is also flawed. And there are times when I wonder if it’s ever going to be ready for publication. Partly that’s because the material is quite personal. Partly because the subject matter is, well, niche to say the least. But on these cold grey January afternoons, I find the words suddenly flowing onto the page; I am filled with excitement and can hardly drag myself away from the keyboard to cook the kids’ dinner or spend a few hours with my husband.
So, I suppose the point of this blog post is: writing has a cycle, just like everything else. Your novel – or poem, or plumbing manual or whatever – may not be expressly about the weather. But we are still creatures of our environment, and cannot help but be affected by the changing of the seasons, the markers both man-made and natural which herald an opening out or a retrenchment, a fresh start or a well-earned break.
And what I am saying is that there may – no, will – be times of the year when your writing is just not flowing. When you really really don’t feel like forcing yourself to sit down at that computer and churn out 2,000 words. Should you let yourself off? No, of course not. One of the universally accepted rules of creating is that quantity yields quality; there is no such thing as genius; it’s putting in the legwork that counts. But, should you feel bad about it if you achieve little more than copious coffee consumption? No. This too will pass. Stick with it, have conviction, and one day you will wake up and find that you suddenly have the inspiration and the urge to write again.
Read an excerpt here: https://alicewestlake.wordpress.com/breaker-of-horses/
Alice’s website: www.alicewestlake.com
Alice’s Facebook: facebook.com/AliceWestlakeAuthor/