Tuesday, 16 August 2022

The blank page

I'm currently facing a blank page.

Now that my second book, The Mermaid Call, is launched and out there, I have begun work on children's book No. 3.

I have a new notebook, I have pages of A3 for story mapping, but mostly I have all the excitement that comes with a physical - and metaphorical - fresh, blank page.

The blank page

There's nothing more exhilarating to me than fleshing out a new idea. I find that even just staring at a clean sheet of paper, pen poised, gives me such pleasurable satisfaction! A bit like entering a minimalist Airbnb before you clutter it with all your belongings! Or the very start of the morning, first cup of tea, before your day becomes tangled with worries and work issues and bad eating habits! 

For me, that clean sheet of paper presents possibilities - of what I might write, imagine, create. Until I start putting a stream of words down, constructing a narrative, my story remains a vision, almost ... teasingly perfect. 

Who was it who said that writing a story is the way to kill off a good idea? I often think of that quote as I start to write, as I try and hold onto my vision like tugging down on the ropes of a hot air balloon. Why is it that the vision in your head can be so hard to capture when you start the nitty gritty of developing your narrative arc and characters? And yet - maybe that vision is the reason we write. The excitement of the chase. A purpose to try and capture perfection, to entrap the dream of the story inside us. 


Ideas not words

I'd like the feeling of possibility to last a long as possible, so this summer I've decided not to start writing in earnest just yet - but to have fun with my vision. To loosely plan and plot, to draw and jot. To stare at many blank pages and fill them with ideas rather than words, with imagery rather than description. To enjoy the exciting prospect of constructing a world for my story before my laptop and I arrive to inhabit - and clutter - it.

Of course, time and other work is always against me and soon I will have to start writing to meet my deadline and then I know my vision will soon become a beast of words that I routinely wrestle with. But for now - for summer - I will enjoy the blank page ... and the teasing possibility of perfection!

I hope you all have a lovely summer too!

Alex Cotter’s middle-grade novel THE MERMAID CALL with Nosy Crow is out now. Her previous novel, THE HOUSE ON THE EDGE, came out in July 2021. Find her at www.alexcotter.co.uk or on Twitter: @AlexFCotter

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