Beginning a new piece of writing is always exciting, especially in that dry period that, in my case at least, invariably follows a major project.
The ideas are there and I have at least five deadlines beginning to loom, but the stories simply do not arrive because those ‘need to finish’ clouds are way off in the distant horizon. I stare at the screen and wonder if I have lost the ability to string together three coherent sentences.
What to write about is my usual bete noir. Those distant projects invariably have a theme, but themes are vague by their very nature, so just what it is that triggers any chunk of fiction is frequently a mystery to me? Perhaps a half heard snippet of conversation; a headline on a webpage or in a magazine; a song; a memory?
Then – at 1.30 am – my best time, browsing loosely related issues around a theme, a small item on a history page gave me the latest prod into action; a name, a place. The lightbulb moment! And the time to go to bed and allow it to marinade in dream. This morning the game, as Holmes would have had it, is now afoot! (Not a Holmesian tale as it happens, though I have two of those on my ‘to do’ list) but a novella that is destined for a secret project. Sssssssssshhhhh!
Now that the premise has been set it is a case of plunging into research mode on the era, place and connections, which invariably means the purchase of the odd book (how I suffer for my art) and hours online perusing maps and checking historical accuracy of various points – and in this particular case the all important supernatural premise on which it all hangs.
To the library, my friends! (or online until those books arrive.)
I may be gone for some time!