It has always been my aim in this blog to state the reality of my experience of writing. I've tried to discuss problems, little victories, unforeseen consequences. And now I'm about to start a new big project and I've decided to record that experience as well, starting now. So here I go, about to write a new novel -- novel four.
Knowing when to start is the first issue. The second book of my Cambodian trilogy of novels, which I believe will be called Out of the Ruins, is with my publisher now. Although she's seen the first draft, I haven't yet received comments on this second draft, and although I may think it is ready for final edits, she may not. And that, of course, would mean having to get my head out of novel 4 and back into Out of the Ruins. So I have tried hard to stop myself from thinking about the next book to be written. A different voice, a different structure, a different set of themes and plot lines.....all of that has to be put to bed as much as possible before I can throw myself into yet another new world. At least for me it does. Some writers may be able to work on two novels at once, but I can't.
Having said that though, I have reached that point where I can't help myself. It has happened to me every time I've finished a book. After I finish, I sit back and revel in the warm bath of having my head space to myself again. I get lazy and don't want to do anything but watch old movies on TV. That lasts a few weeks. Then I begin to wonder if I'll ever feel like writing anything ever again. And then it starts to happen. The ideas start popping into my head. I fall asleep wondering about structure and wake up with ideas for beginnings, middles and ends. Characters start forcing their way back into my head and then, whether I like it or not, I'm there...in the middle of the next fictional world, with all its questions of voice, narrator, purpose and plot.
Try as I might, I can't fight it. I've bought the new Black n Red notebook (for my obsession with these, see here). I have the ritualised new pen to start writing with -- actually, this time it came as a Christmas present from Number 1 Son (the idea that my kids know my process and take it seriously is a subject of a whole other, very mushy blog post which I might write one day). I've started doing some research, and have begun to email contacts to help with the research I know I won't be able to find in books. The developing framework for the new book almost feels like it's holding me together myself. It's outlining my own life, as well as the life of novel 4.