Updated 14 September 2023
(01 June 2023) Writers seem to love walking and showering (and drinking, which perhaps serves the same purpose for some). It gives you something to do with your body while your brain sheds all the mental burrs, bracken and bits of goosegrass that have gathered on it over the course of the day, allowing unhindered free exploration of the terrifyingly infinite possibilities that exist at each step in a story.
My favorite tool is the walk, I find that it takes at least twenty minutes before my mind settles on the story, but it’s rare that I’m not hurrying on the way home, excited to note down some now-obvious idea.
When I am reading a novel, and I think “How can this be so good, so well structured, so engaging? How can the characters be so appealing and many-layered? This is not merely better than my story, it is a quite different thing entirely.” – I think back to those walks, and I remind myself that most likely every great story went through the same process of refinement: problems solved, little moments of inspiration incorporated, faces, mannerisms and snippets of overheard conversation borrowed and weaved in. It doesn’t arrive in anyone’s mind fully formed (I hope, I hope).
(24 May 2023) Writing is when you bear the darkest parts of your soul to someone and they reply “Thank you for the chance to read your story, we have decided that it isn’t quite what we’re looking for right now. We look forward to reading more of your work in future.”
I have received 17 rejections across 9 stories so far this year. Some contain feedback, some contain compliments, most do not (and I quite understand why.) It would be as though, as a junior programmer, every PR you raised was closed, a month later, with just “No, it’s not quite right.”
Ah well. We pick it back up, stare at it, fiddle with the prose, squint a little. “Well I like it.”, and then back over the fence it goes.
(17 May 2023) I just completed and submitted a short story about the tooth fairy (horror).
I am now working on an idea for the next project. I have various ingredients but I’m not quite sure what it’s driving at yet. Most likely it will not congeal into anything solid.
It always seems to be the case that ideas become worse as soon as you look at them closely. What seems like a wonderful, exciting, clever story idea turns out to be rubbish as soon as you try to roughly outline it.
Then you fix your outline, after days of effort, and realise that you just wrote “and then they have adventures” five times, and you don’t actually have any plot.
Then you spend another week working out the plot, and you realise that the whole idea was awful from the start and you throw it away in disgust.
Perhaps it was awful, perhaps I’m just not capable of pulling it off, perhaps it’s great and I’m just too close to it, who knows, who knows…