Saturday, 5 February 2011

Mirages: N M Browne

It happened again. Not a moment too soon. After a year of on off rather unsatisfactory writing, I had five days of joyous, out of my control/forget-to-eat writing possession.

The last book, which I’ve just delivered, finally found its shape and rhythm only at the very last minute, on a deadline and after much spitting and cursing. I had a good few of those desert days where you can’t see the oasis or when you think you’ve found it only to have it dissolve - another bloody mirage. I briefly became a menopausal ancient mariner stoppething anyone who’d listen about the futility of it all. I drank a lot of coffee, ate a lot of chocolate and was unfailingly, unfeasibly grumpy for far too long.
My restoration began innocently enough when my son and his girlfriend reminded me of a story idea I’d had a year or so ago. I’d regaled them with it over the course of lunch: they were students, I was paying - they were obviously a captive audience. At first I thought they were mistaken. I had no idea what they were talking about. It must have been some other novelist, or some other book, but as they continued I felt the first flicker of something, recognition, enthusiasm and the blam it hit me! Passion swiftly followed by possession. I couldn’t type fast enough: sentences tumbled over sentences, characters walked into my head talking to each other, kissing each other, killing each other, enacting, no, living a plot. How could I have forgotten such a brilliant premise? Why hadn’t I written it? Within the hour the whole thing had unfolded in my head like some exotic, wondrous plant. I was consumed.

Today I am knackered and bereft. Where did it go? Obviously it was just another writing mirage - the idea of a perfect novel. Still, it was wonderful while it lasted. It reminded me that sometimes writing is just great fun. I am determined to push through the plodding phase of uncertainty and self doubt because if your son remembers the plot of a story for more that a year - there’s something there - right? And the passion, that possession might return? Please. Pretty please.


Leslie Wilson said...

I know just what you mean, Nicky. There are these wonderful moments of passion and possession, and then one comes to the times when one has to implement it - and all the things that seemed so brilliant, packed together inside my head, suddenly seem rather flimsy and inadequate when I take them out to look at them and - what do I do about that? and I need to do a lot of finding out, and there are passages and bits of plot that stubbornly resist being written.
The difference between the professional writer and the amateur is, I think, that the professional - or someone who is going to become a professional - keeps at it, nagging, gnawing, stubbornly writing what seems to be crap - and then the moment of breakthrough comes again. It usually happens to me in Waitrose carpark (the moment of breakthrough, I mean!)

Leslie Wilson said...
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