Wednesday, 11 November 2009

Answering Back : Penny Dolan

One of the small problems about flying off next week to tell stories at Delhi's Bookaroo Children’s Book Festival(with surrounding holiday) is that . . . . er . . er . . . part of me quite wants to stay home here in Yorkshire working on Tome Two.

I’m behind on my personal deadline. This Autumn’s run of visits tore into the energy I need for my writing work. This is not a complaint, especially as the schools and libraries were really great, but the big fact in most author's writing/earning balance. Visiting is essentially “Out There”; Writing is “In Here”.

I know I should be up and at the Tome every spare second, but my creative mind doesn’t work like that, and before anyone quotes inspirational tales of Messrs Trollope or Archer or even the feted Miss Price, I have no servants, assistants or anyone else writing down my book words.

However, the enforced silence was useful. Returning to the Tome, I suddenly saw that a certain light and subtle story twist was actually constructed of a material somewhat heavier then lead. It required, and will require, strong and severe plot-wrangling.

There is also another problem to solve. The small matter of X, a secondary character: a pale, pitiful creature doomed to arrive at a poignantly early end.

X has decided to be nothing of the sort. In true Jasper-Ffordean manner, she is stomping on furiously, full of life and health and wanting to have her own way. Just now I can’t see how or if I can ever take her in hand, let alone what she will do to the main characters. So much for the power of the synopsis! She cannot be trusted alone.

So I have decided that in Delhi, home of the power-cut,I must keep writing, but it will be - aagh! - by hand. Even though that means facing up to my awful over-excited scrawl. Even though I need the protective “writing distance” my computer screen gives me. I considered the lap-top option, but that adds weight and safety issues. Hand-writing sounds so much more reliable, doesn’t it?

I fear it will all come back to me: the stained fingers, the gloom as the paper is covered in more and more deletions, the awful over-writing, the sense of homework badly done. Ho hum. I must try to be positive.

Will my back-to-scribbling plan work? It's essential that it does, because I’ve reached a significant point in the making of Tome Two, a moment that ABBA writers may recognise, and it is joyous. When I sat down to work this last week, the writing had begun speaking back to me.


Brian Keaney said...

Writing by pen! I'd rather eat my own manuscript.

Penny Dolan said...

Thank you for putting that thought into my head. So now my worries include whether I'll be able to tell the difference between the neat rectangular notebook and the neat rectangular plane meal-pack.

Gillian Philip said...

Delta Star moment! (copyright T Pratchett) How wonderful, congratulations!

I've just rediscovered longhand - maybe it's just the change of scene, but I find it's making me concentrate more and the story actually flows (rather than me having to squeeze the dry old bones of every word till blood flows).

Penny Dolan said...

I will try and use your description of the process as an inspiration to succeed in the scribbly task, Gillian!

Linda Strachan said...

I find writing in longhand (only do it when I absolutely have to!) is both a bind and a freedom.
A bit of a bind because I scribble so badly I can often hardly decipher it, but a kind of freedom almost because I know I will be typing it out and changing it again later, so it feels like a sort of freestyle and anything can happen because it is somehow less permanent almost as if it is just thinking and trying it out rather than just writing it
- yes I know that is weird but who knows how the creative process really works!

have a wonderful time whatever happens!

Nayuleska said...

Yay for your writing speaking to you. It's such a whoohoo moment when that happens.

steeleweed said...

I cannot write prose longhand, never could. Learned to type at 7 and never looked back. It's probably just as well, since my handwriting is terrible.
On the other hand, I can only handwrite poetry. Suspect it is something about the matching the pace of getting the words down to the pace of the mental processes.

Good luck and enjoy Delhi.