Saturday, 24 January 2009

Beginnings - Katherine Langrish

Although I’ve only recently finished the last one (which was agony to write), and although I swore to my long-suffering husband that I wanted at least three months off, to do ordinary things like gardening and cleaning and shopping and seeing friends – I’ve begun thinking of a new book.
At the moment it’s not much more than a hazy set of ideas floating in the darkness at the back of my head, nebulous images glimpsed from the corner of my eye.
But I’ve remembered how much I love this moment, the birth of a new idea, when everything seems magical and the real hard slog of actual writing is still in the future. This is such an exciting time, waiting for something to come into being out of nowhere. And you can’t hurry it.
At first these wispy, ghost-like notions of mine are too vague to grasp, but if I leave them alone, if I don’t try to look at them too closely, they’ll slowly coalesce, gathering mass, until quite suddenly they’ll ignite like a newborn star. And I’ll know where I’m going and what I’m doing and what the book is all about.
Writers can’t stop stories from forming, any more than the universe can stop making stars. All the wonderful books and stories that have ever been written – some shine on forever, some blaze up quickly and die, some lie hidden in dark reaches of dustclouds, some have a gravitational pull so strong that they swing whole galaxies around them… and, whoops, I suspect I have pursued that metaphor far enough. So here’s a different one, for all of us who have once again come round the circle to the beginning.
Warmth in the dark.
what is given blind into your hand,
crumpled and wet from the egg –
stirring and cheeping –
not sure yet what it will become.
It is yours to nurture.
Your winged creature –
your tall Assyrian bull, your monster,
your mythical singing swan.


Anonymous said...

lovely post. i too have a new idea for a book. problem one is i'm not finished with the current one. problem two is a movie has just appeared in the cinemas whose usp is the same as the usp of my idea. i guess it's back to the drawing board.

Katherine Langrish said...

Is it a high-profile movie, Candy? When I was close to the end of writing 'Troll Blood' I discovered there was a movie coming out which used some of the core motifs of my book - a Norse child abandoned in America and rescued by Native Americans. I was very upset and contacted my US editor, but she advised me not to warry. The movie was full of awful cliches and had received almost universally bad reviews; and as far as I know, no one has ever made any connection between it and my book - which is fair enough, as there never WAS a connection - just one of those synchronicity things.

Anonymous said...

oh it's as high profile as you can get as it's just been nominated for the academy award. until i read the synopses in the papers, i had no idea about the similarity! but this is a slow slow business so maybe in ten years when i finally find a publisher who wants to publish me, that movie will have vanished in the public consciousness!

Nick Green said...

Interesting choice of astronomical metaphor, Katherine! I was just thinking of a similar one, as I too am starting on a new idea. A smaller-scale and perhaps more violent metaphor: a solar system being formed, small chunks of rock slamming together into larger ones, coalescing, massing, then shattering again... until at last something resembling a planet exists! Only to hit another one and shatter again... etc.
My ideas tend to be like that - slamming unrelated ideas together and see what comes out.

BTW I saw a trailer for that film that you say was 'similar' to Troll Blood! Ha ha. Nothing less Langrish exists. It's an irrational fear, that similar ideas will spike your own commercially. If anything, the reverse always happens. If one sword-and-sorcery film does well, you can expect an avalanche of them to follow.

Meg Harper said...

I think there ought to be a para-organisation for the long-suffering spouses!!!! They could get together and compare notes on things like how awful it is to live with someone who the world thinks is raking it in while you know it'll be lentil soup again tonight - well, if you're lucky - if she/he hasn't got so absorbed they've forgotten what time it is - again!