Pablo Picasso, the artist said, `When inspiration finds me, I hope I'm working.'
We can all sit around waiting for inspiration to switch us on like a light bulb, but the harsh truth is - we're the ones who have to flick the switch. We have to do the work ourselves - and then we might get inspiration.
So, after a rather protracted break - granted I had to contend with Christmas and New Year and all that that entails - I am now firmly back at my desk - and actually putting pen to paper. But the putting pen to paper bit is only a part of my job. And I don't feel guilty that I haven't been slogging away over my computer or notebook for a few weeks. Actually writing a book is usually the final stage. In the weeks since I wrote my last blog, I've read numerous books, Googled umpteen facts, watched a few TV documentaries and films and THOUGHT. Lots!
As an author, even though I might not actually be seen to be writing, I am very often working in my head: ideas swirling round, thoughts on characters and plot lines. There is no such thing as a day off. Even as I sat round the tree on Christmas Day and watched my grandchildren opening their presents, in the back of my mind I was thinking about a jumping off point for my book. Sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night wondering if such and such would work, or how.... and what if...?
But yesterday, at long last, I found my starting point. And today, I started writing. I'm writing longhand at the moment because there's something tactile about moving a pen across a page. Most of my books are written direct to the PC and my typing is infinitely faster than my handwriting. But that's probably part of the problem: if I'm typing, my hands are writing almost as fast as I'm thinking whereas, if I'm writing longhand, then my thought need to slow down. I'm trying this as a new way of working so we'll see how it goes.
I've had an idea for this book for several months and now I've got a vehicle to carry my idea but it didn't come from sitting around waiting for inspiration. Now that I've done my research and have started planning my book, perhaps Inspiration will find me and help me with the rest of it!
You would think that, as a writer, I would find it easy to write a blog. But, the reality is, I find it really difficult. When I'm writing a book, I have a plot and characters who drive the plot but, with a blog, I'm the character who drives my own plot. Eeek! No one to blame but myself if it all goes pear shaped.
When I'm writing a novel, very often my characters go off and do their own thing - totally off script. In Diamond Geezers one of my characters went and got herself kidnapped and, as I was writing it, I was thinking - Help! This was NOT in the synopsis. How on earth and I going to get her out of this? At the time I had a friend who was a script writer and when I told her she said, `That's brilliant because, if you don't know what's going to happen next, your readers certainly won't.' And, of course, it did all work out in the end and I've learned to trust my characters.
Anyway, as I'm just starting a new book, I thought - why not start a new blog following the process of the book? Then readers can get a real time insight into how a book is created. No spoilers, mind! Like most writers, I won't tell you what I'm writing about until it's finished. That's partly a luck thing - I don't want to jinx it - but also, writers like to keep their plots close to their chest in case someone takes their idea and plagiarises it.
At the moment I'm at the research and planning stage. And it's my favourite part of being a writer. I can justifiably sit and read all day - and call it work. I also get to visit different places and learn new things. When I wrote Mimosa Fortune and the Smuggler's Curse I went up to Whitby and visited the Smugglers' Museum at Saltburn and then created a montage of images of Whitby using a present day map with drawings and maps of C18th Whitby placed around it. I had it by my desk the whole time I was writing so that I could easily reference locations as I was writing. (Image above)
My new project however, isn't set in an existing place: it's an imaginary country in an imaginary world. So I'll have to draw up my own map and create a whole new culture.
I'm so excited! Watch this space.....