writingIt’s 8am, and here I am, bleary-eyed, half incoherent, but awake. Summer nights have had me tossing and turning, so sleep has been an inconstant bedfellow as of late. I came round to the land of the living at around 4am today and noticed a familiar nauseous gnawing in the pit of my stomach. It was a fiend I knew well. Managed to sleep again and awaken at a more agreeable time only to find it hadn’t gone away, it was still there: the succubus of ‘you-havent-written-for-2-weeks’ feasting on my intestines.

One coffee later and here I am, determined to work through and complete this damned short story that I birthed in September. The ending is missing – like always I got the hardest parts done, only to ‘rest’ and then forget about the project.

Sometimes it’s good to have an enhanced sense of guilt: it makes you work harder.

So this is why I’m sitting down to a bit of hardcore writing this morning. I’m in the garden, I’ve got my coffee, my word document is up and I’ve just glanced at the opening paragraph of my short story.

“He lived in a house of yellowing books. In the hallway these towers of thoughts and dreams loomed silently, their pages mottled with age spots. Beyond the gloom, more volumes fell down the stairs in a vertiginous spill. Some, spread-eagled on broken spines, gaped silently in toothless despair while others, firmly shut, were eyeless to the world. The only light fell in glowing bars through the dirty curtains in the living room. Somehow, dust motes still found a way to churn in the stasis.”

There’s so much to say about the journey I have taken with this project – (a journey I am still on by the way) and a project is never really ‘finished’. No. You just learn to leave it when the prose gets as tight and smooth as possible, and you can bear to let the world see it.

What many won’t know is that this opening has been through countless drafts: eight major revisions to be precise, but with lots of minor adjustments. It used to be twice as long at one point – but as you look at your story and ask yourself what it is that you NEED to tell rather than what you WANT to tell, you realise you don’t need half the words there. Some call it ‘cutting out the waffle’, I call it ‘purging the ego-talk’. Sometimes we write just to show off what we are capable of…

I have yet to complete the ending of this story – it has been quite a journey, but I am so excited. It’ll be the first project I’ve completed in full. The first that came to me fully formed in my head, and that is a big thing – as big a thing as when JK Rowling said the whole of Harry Potter came to her while she was sitting in the carriage of a train heading back from god knows where.

One word, after another word, after another word. That is how we build worlds… now, let’s get to it!