Monday, 6 September 2010

Raise a glass to Vicky the Viking

They reckon all good things come to those who wait. I’m not so sure about that one; there are plenty of things I’ve been waiting a long time for – a Manhattan apartment, an Aston Martin, my own private sun-drenched island – and the postman ain't delivered.

But when it comes to writing, working through issues in your head over a period of time, even if it’s subconsciously, does work wonders. Back in April, I posted about some feedback I’d received on young adult project Quackenbush, which effectively told me that I needed to crack the plot apart and give it a major overhaul. It was at once a wonderful Vicky the Viking lightbulb moment and a tremendous kick in the knackers.

The problems, with hindsight, were obvious. The effect on my sanity, however, led me to shelve the entire project and start something afresh. I don’t know what I was waiting for – I knew exactly what needed to be done with QB, but having jousted with the manuscript for so long, I just didn’t have the willpower to face up to a major rewrite.

The last five months have largely been taken up by events over at Nemesis Publishing, but I managed to knock out 8,000 words on a new crime project. They are decent words too. Plenty of mystery, intrigue, violence and the like for the protagonist to chew on. I was reading through it again last week and something which I’d known all along, but not admitted, became clear: decent though the words may be, they lacked colour. The main reason is that it’s set in New York, and I’ve only been there once, for five days, eight years ago. I know many writers can wax lyrical about places they’re not familiar with, but I don’t think I’m one of them.

A few hours later, Mrs Q mentioned something about Quackenbush that reminded me of its existence.

A few more hours later, I saw a facebook update from a friend and fellow scribe which said that, after two years of writing/revising/editing/polishing, his manuscript was completed and he was about to jump on the submissions bandwagon. I was chuffed for him and impressed that he’d shown such dedication for two years. It made me feel somewhat inadequate. Boot to backside duly received.

And then… a plan started to form. Later that night I began drawing the various strands together in my head, working out solutions to the problems with the QB storyline that would be caused by major surgery.

On the drive into work this morning, it all came together. The buzz was back. No longer did I see the rewrite as an insurmountable obstacle; instead it had me salivating and eager to get going. And, of course, there’s no issue with geography on QB, as it’s set on my doorstep.

I’d love to know how the mind works – my mind, at least – as there doesn’t appear to be any rhyme nor reason for this sudden clarity of thinking. Not that I’m complaining. Will it last? Who knows. I've seen enough false dawns with my writing to know there are no guarantees. But there’s only one way to find out.