I am so nearly ready to take the plunge into this first draft.
I’m teetering on the edge at the moment, peering tentatively into the deep, pulling gently on the multiple strands of the safety harness I’ve constructed with my plan just to test their firmness and wondering whether it’s safe to dive in.
My plot and characters are so much stronger now than they were a week ago. Every time I sit down to add to my notes I find new links, new dimensions to shore things up just that little bit further.
I’ve made a decision, I think, about how I’m going to approach the writing of this story (if not the telling): a chronological approach is making more and more sense. Even though I envisage the final structure to be considerably less linear, I think I need to let the characters grow as organically as possible. I don’t have reams and reams of notes about them, only pointers – and as their futures will inevitably depend on their pasts it seems logical that I should start somewhere near the beginning.
Even as I write that though I’m having doubts… There are some moments later in my characters’ lives that are so vivid to me, maybe by writing those I will get a clearer idea of the journey that brought them there?
Hmmm… Not quite ready yet, it seems.
Then there are the questions: the little white index cards that are rapidly getting filled up with things I feel I need to know. At least half of the story takes place in the seven years around the year of my birth. I have a bank of research and cultural references that I’ve built up from my own and others’ experiences, but I’ve found myself doubting this week whether I’ve got enough to draw on.
It’s in those moments that I’ve stepped back from the edge and retreated into something that will enrich my sense of the time I need to immerse myself in – movies and music, mainly. Only snapshots of course but something still that will anchor my prose when I finally dare to jump.
It’s a familiar sensation, this excitement and anticipation. But each time it’s new, too – a bit like how I imagine it might feel to have another child.
I’ve been here before, I know I can do this. As much as I can plan and research it will never be quite enough to fully prepare me for what’s ahead – and besides, its the new things I will discover that will make the journey most worthwhile.
I just need to work out where to start writing.
Or maybe I just need to start writing.
Maybe I just need to write.
And there it is again, that little piece of advice I keep finding myself coming back to: