The week in view

The last week has been rather full of reading, just as the previous couple were.
It’s the interesting stage (for me) of writing a novel. First there is the initial idea, that soon develops into a basic plot. Then there is the development of characters that will work within the main plot, and bring their own little problems and foibles along with them. Finally, there is the research all around the story itself.

Books, glorious books!

Books, glorious books!

This is, obviously, the thrilling part. If you are an author, you will like books. Being about to launch yourself into a new novel is brilliant because you’re allowed to read to your heart’s content. It’s a time of invention, of sparkling ideas that flash into being and weld themselves into the main theme. You go to bed thinking about a particular scene, and wake to an entire chapter (which will disappear if you don’t grab that blasted pen immediately and scribble it down). You worry at a problem and read more and more to try to tease out every ounce of excitement and information you can, only to discover a serious flaw that sends you back to the beginning again.
For authors, this is the hazardous stage.
Everyone knows what it’s like to be buried in a book that you cannot put down. That is why authors are absolute hell to live with. When they are writing, they will be impervious to all life around them. I know I am.
Wives can suggest going shopping. Forget it. The author can be informed that the washing needs doing. Tough. Husbands may point out that the child has just been dragged round the corner by “Kylie”, next-door’s Rottweiler, and be rewarded with a “Really, dear?”
In short, while an author is inventing a story, you can write them off.
But this is the dangerous stage not because of tension in a marriage, but more because the author can get so engrossed in making sure that all the details are right that they forget the minor detail of deadlines.
All authors get that. Students too. They work away reading more and more about their topic, looking for that essential new detail that will bring their work to life, only to realise, two days before the deadline, that they haven’t written a single paragraph yet.
I have. I’ve got the first five pages written. And they are all rubbish. I know that. Not one of them will make it to the final version of the book. But, and it’s a big “but”, I have actually started to write. That gets me over the first hurdle. And with three books to write this year, it’s a significant one.
The other significant feature for me this year is the fact that this is the first novel I’m writing using pen and paper, not a computer. It’s wonderful. I can write standing at my desk, and I can have my mind wander more freely. No longer am I stuck thinking about the next tweet, the next Facebook message, the next email. None of them is quite so urgent as this latest book. So messages will wait.
Meantime I am standing writing with (today) Syrah from Diamine, a lovely deep berry red. It’s gorgeous. I’m making lots more notes, finalising the main timeline, and writing character details: what each of them looks like, back story, character traits etc. I am hoping that having thought through this kind of detail will make the story flow more logically.

Standing desk with the first pages scribbled in Syrah from Diamine

Standing desk with the first pages scribbled in Syrah from Diamine

Because of the way this book is developing, I’m using one large Atoma notepad to work on. I write on individual pages, and then set them into the Atoma rings sequentially. However, Atoma gives me the option of ripping pages out and moving them or replacing them as I need. It makes holding the story together much more easy. I suspect that before I’m done I’ll need several other Atoma pads, perhaps one per theme.The book itself will be far too thick to hold in any one pad.
I am also thinking of making a new desk. I have been dribbling over lap-desks for a while. I love Edwardian and Victorian writing slopes. If you haven’t seen one, they are wooden boxes, generally, that open up to create a sloping surface, usually leather or soft material, on which to write. Campaign models were rather heavier versions built to a robust standard. They are beautiful pieces of workmanship. However, I’m considering making a flat, leather surface on which to write so that I can sit at any chair and work. It will mean I can work in any room in the house, and also that I can go out and about. I hope to find some good leather from a local tannery that will more or less match my Midori Traveller’s Notebook. I’ll stitch that over a 4mm sheet of ply, I think, to give it good strength. My only issue is whether or not to build a support into it so that I can use it sloped, and whether I should build that like an iPad support with three sections that fold together. Lots of ideas to work on there!

Rebellion's MessageI cannot go without showing you a preview of the cover for the new title with Severn House. This will be out in April, and I’m really looking forward to it. Hopefully readers will enjoy it too!

And now a sad end to this week’s blog, I’m afraid.

Sadly real life impinges. The older I get, the more I appreciate friends, but it’s an inevitable fact that good friends will fall by the wayside.

This year our village has already lost two folks. Nationally we have lost several giants in the world of music. Over the last weekend the great actor Frank Finlay died, and so did Terry Wogan, a brilliant comedian, radio presenter and TV star. However, locally a more important man died: Tony Beard.
Tony was a presenter on Radio Devon for some thirty years. A true countryman, he was popular at events from the Okehampton Show to Widecombe Fair. A hilarious after-dinner speaker, he was also the compère for many years at the Dartmoor Folk Festival’s concert evening.
A thoroughgoing professional, and a really delightful character, he’ll be greatly missed.

13 Responses to “The week in view”
  1. Jack Eason says:

    I find that continual research while writing works best Michael. ;)


  2. Jack Eason says:

    Reblogged this on Have We Had Help? and commented:
    More from Michael :)


  3. Izzy Winder says:

    Amazon says Rebellion’s message is coming out on 30th April, is that right? If so, I know exactly what I’ll be asking for as a birthday present – what great timing! :-)


  4. Hello Michael, I’ve just found your blog after a recommendation. Where are you based? In South Devon?

    Keep up the good work


  5. knotrune says:

    I have a writing slope, I love antiques that can be used, it gives a link to the past, I like to imagine who might have used it before me.

    My only concern about your writing on paper is what about backing up? Do you scan the pages and save them to the cloud or anything?


    • I love writing slopes. Maybe one day I’ll be able to afford one. In the meantime I’ll get by with a board covered in leather. Sounds good to me! As to your question, I’ll be writing it, and then typing the whole thing onto the computer and back it up on the cloud from there. That will be the first pass at my edit. The chances of loss are far less than if I have another computer failure that way!


      • knotrune says:

        My writing slope is only a cheap one off ebay :) there are some beautiful very expensive ones out there! I could have saved for one of those, but I just wanted to try one out and see if I like using it, which of course I haven’t got round to yet.


      • Be glad – you have the slope to try out! I’m still aspiring to saving for one! Go on, get it out and use it, Knotrune!


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