The Return of the Voices (and the Nervous Stomach)

Back in April, I blogged about the strange feeling of dread and nerves I was experiencing when I thought about writing, in When Writing is the Cause of and the Solution to Anxiety It took me a while to work out that the reason my stomach kept taking a nose dive was my writing. There was, however, a huge sense of relief when I finished the first draft of what will be The Boy With The Thorn In His Side- Part 3. I discussed this in First Draft Relief as The Voices Fall Silent. After that first draft, everything calmed down. The voices from this particular story shut up and while that did allow the next lot of characters to pipe up, I felt a lot better. My nervous stomach went away and I almost forgot about it.

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About a week ago, something very annoying happened. I got an idea for a new book. I really, really didn’t want this to happen. It actually makes me feel physically sick to even think about it!

And this is why;

  • at the moment I am trying to decide whether or not to release Elliot Pie’s Guide To Human Nature as it is, probably in September. Although, as I talked about in my last blog post, How Do You Know When It’s Time To Quit?, I am also considering another edit and possible rewrite. I change my mind about this on a daily basis. I am listening to all the advice I’ve received in feedback from publishers and from beta readers and anyone else who has commented, but I do still feel that the story is the way I intended it to be…so as you can tell, this book which has been two years in progress, is still plaguing my thoughts…
  • I have A Song For Bill Robinson and Emily’s Baby both written. Both need further edits and both need feedback from beta readers to move forward. But at the moment, both books are just sat there doing nothing, while I feel the constant gnaw of guilt and unease about the fact nothing is happening…
  • Currently, I am working on The Boy With The Thorn In His Side series. As explained in older posts, the original book and its sequel This Is The Day have been reworked into a series of four books which will be left open for the option of a fifth. Parts 1 and 2 just needed tweaking, while part 3 is entirely new, and part 4 is a reworked version of This Is The Day to tie in with the events of part 3…Tired yet? I am! Parts 1 and 2 are finished and awaiting frot covers and formatting for ebook and paperback. I have just finished the 4th draft of Part 3 on my Kindle and will soon dive into the 5th draft before I ask my beta readers to read it. I am working on Part 4 right now, and don’t think it will take more than a week or so, as only a few bits need changing. There is some relief with this series, but already a few ideas have crept in for a potential book 5…
  • The Day The Earth Turned, a 4 book YA series has been waiting for its turn for a good year or so now. I’ve plotted it, devised characters, and written short stories to keep it at bay. I’ve even dived into writing it and got as far as chapter 7. Once I have finished messing around with The Boy series, this series will be the next new, fresh thing I work on. That could be as soon as a few weeks time!! Exciting!! But those voices are getting louder and louder…
  • There are also sequels half written and neglected for The Mess Of Me and The Tree Of Rebels, but these will have to wait even longer now thanks to this bolshy new idea marching into my head last week!
  • I’m not going to tell you too much about the book so far, only tease you by admitting it’s been somewhat inspired by watching Breaking bad and Supernatural! Weird, I know, but the writer’s mind works in very strange ways. I didn’t want a new book idea. You can see how much I have going on, plus if you check out my upcoming books page, there are other books in the pipeline I’ve not even mentioned in this blog post. They will just get pushed back too as this new idea is a very insistent one.

So, with the new and unwanted book idea came new voices, names, characters, lives, homes, friends, lovers, backstories and shit loads of dialogue. They just don’t shut up! They are living and breathing and growing and evolving each and every day. Everything I do, everywhere I go, they are there too, demanding to be born, urging to be moulded and shaped into something real and living. I already know far more about these new characters than I wanted to. I’ve tried to ignore them and it’s not worked at all. They are just there!! They are just so alive.

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And obviously, the nose diving stomach is back. In a bad way. Like I’ve said before, it’s a lot like the feeling you get before an exam. My stomach lurches and twists and tightens. Sometimes out of the blue, for no reason. Other times, it’s because something to do with one of the books has popped into my head.

So I now know for sure that this anxious feeling is connected to book ideas…

So what to do about it? Other than try not to panic? And try not to die before I get all these books written and out of me?

I’ve done two things that have helped already, and one is something I’ve done before with other novels in waiting. I wrote a short story which I will include in a future newsletter for those of you subscribed to get a very, very early glimpse of this new book idea of mine. That eased things a bit.

And I’ve done something new. I’ve started a diary here on my blog, which will remain unpublished for now. It’s a diary of a novel from the first (in my case, unwanted) seed of an idea, to the finished product available to buy. I thought this would be really interesting to look back on once it’s all done!

So I write an entry when something has moved on with the novel idea. The first few entries contain notes about the original idea and the last few I wrote include possible names for the characters and more details on their lives and conflicts…

I hope this will be an interesting and cathartic process for me, plus I will have all the notes safe and sound in one place for when I start writing it!

Just one more thing to mention! This new idea? It is somewhat connected to The Boy With The Thorn In His Side series, in that some of the characters will appear in the others’ books…!!

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I Am Never Just Me and I Am Never Alone

I remember standing outside school when I was about four or five, trying to understand why I was only me. Why my thoughts and feelings were limited to just mine. I looked at my friends and my mother, and stared into their eyes, and realised I could not climb into their heads and become them, I could not occupy the space behind their eyes and see the world as they did. I vividly remember thinking how amazing, strange and sad this was.

But I soon found out that this does not really apply to writers. If you are a writer, you are not limited to being just one person or living just one life. As a writer, I discovered that I was never just me, and I was also never, ever alone. When I started to write stories, they were about animals, lost and neglected, looking for love and embarking on adventures. I became them. I was them, just as much as I was Chantelle. I had to quieten them and hide them when people asked something from me. I had to climb back out of their minds and fully inhabit mine. But I would try to get away with not doing this in full. I’d be eating my dinner, sniffing the air, sure I had picked up the scent of trouble, my eyes darting from side to side, planning an escape. I wasn’t just me. And then when dinner was over, the stories would continue and I would slip back into character.

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Throughout my life, I have been all the people I have written about. I have not simply created them, written their stories and then cast them aside. It doesn’t work like that at all. These people come to me, somehow, for some reason. They start off small and grow bigger and bigger, louder, more complex, more real. They are all from me. It blows my mind. It’s like they find me and ask me to tell their story, but that’s not really it. Somehow, they come out of me, because they are me.

And then I am them. I become them in order to write their story, in order to feel what they feel, and do what they do. I don’t really know how I do this. I just think about them so much, picture them, hear them, study them. I lie awake at night, and they are there. Characters from books already written, and characters still developing in my head for future books.

Danny (The Boy With The Thorn In His Side)is still the most constant visitor because he has been in my head since I was 12. We grew up together. Me, lying in bed, watching him in my head. Hearing the words I put in his mouth, though it never felt like that, it always felt like he was the one saying them. His story is an action-packed tragedy of violence, music and friendship that plays out endlessly inside my head, even now. I lie awake and watch scenes that exist. Then I see new ones, ones that happened in his life, but never in the actual book. He’ll never go away. He is me. As are the other characters in that book. It still slightly concerns me how easy it was to climb inside the twisted mind of Lee Howard. How I was able to understand and even empathise with his warped motivations and desires.

Others come and go. Lou (The Mess Of Me) is another fairly constant visitor. This is because she is the one most based on myself, on my life and my thoughts and feelings. Her story, like mine, is not over yet, and until I get around to writing her sequel, she whispers in my ear on a regular basis. We share the same dark thoughts and our worst enemies are ourselves.

If characters are still waiting to be fully told, they will talk a lot in the day. Walking down the lane, I listen to Reuben and Chess, the characters from a YA series I am planning. They have conversations constantly. When I least expect it, they pop up and start talking or arguing. They are helping me to write the book.

The same goes for current ones, characters from my works-in-progress. I learn new things about them every day. I will be washing up or making dinner, and suddenly there they are, having a conversation that just needs to be written down. Because of these people, I am never, ever lonely. I don’t know what it feels like to be bored or alone. Because of them, I don’t know how to have just one train of thought in my head. I don’t know how to have a quiet mind.

Yet, to those that know me, I am often described as quiet.

Sometimes I think the people in my head are the best thing about being a writer. Creating worlds and weaving plots, sharing your work with readers, getting reviews, these are all fantastic, magical things, but being more than one person who is never, ever alone, has to be the best and maybe the most unexpected.

 

Welcome To My Mind!! (Via my notebooks…)

I have a strange addiction to notebooks. I just can’t have enough of them. I have far too many floating around my writing space, but they all serve a purpose, and if any of them were to go missing, I think the wheels would fall off this operation. My notebooks are the physical version of what goes on in my mind. So, I thought I might share them with you. I would be really interested to know if anyone else writes and lives like this!

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My To-Do List Notebook!

Introducing the backbone of notebooks. The one that holds everything else together! My to-do book. I always have one of these on the go and when it’s used up, I buy another A4 sized notebook to replace it. Every Sunday night I write my to-do list for the week ahead. It usually starts off pretty short and gets added to as the week goes by. It will include things like posting my author interview or guest post blogs, my usual Wednesday blog post, making sure my newsletter is drafted, finishing a short story or article, printing stuff out for workshops and so on. It also reminds me to order dog food on Thursdays, and pay for school trips online and so on! I don’t think I could function without a to-do list book. There is something so satisfying about ticking things off as the week goes on! I feel like I am keeping on top of things in all areas of my life, and I’m sure a lot of stuff just wouldn’t get done if I didn’t write them down!

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My Non-Fiction Notebook!

This A5 notebook keeps me on track with all things non-fiction in my life. I list possible blog post ideas in here and tick them off when I have written and published them. I also write down ideas for articles. I use this book to note down ideas, research, and plans for any workshops I might be running for Dorset Writers Network, or for my own venture Chasing Driftwood Writing Group Anything I read that inspires me, any plans I have for the future, I note down in here!

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Current Work-In-Progress Notebook!

All my books have a notebook. The notebook comes into action once the voices get too loud in my head. This notebook is for my current WIP A Song For Bill Robinson. As Elliot Pie is having another round with beta readers, and I am just not ready to revisit the tricky Tree Of Rebels yet, I am having a stab at a YA novel I first attempted when I was sixteen. There are two stories related to this in Bird People and Other Stories. The book is basically written, I am just having to make it better than it is! (Oh the cringe of reading your own teenage writing..!)

PTDC0094.JPGThe Tree Of Rebels Notebook!

Self-explanatory. This is the long and complex story of a novel still not finished, all wrapped up in one now very tatty A5 notebook! We will get there one day with this one!PTDC0096.JPG

Elliot Pie’s Notebook!

Here it is, Elliot Pie’s notebook. As with all my books, this notebook contains character bios, themes, ideas, plotting, and the many, many lists I make when rewriting, which I then go through and tick off. 

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Plans For Unwritten Novel!

Recently a short story I wrote to include in the newsletter, morphed into something far, far bigger. Something quite epic. Something four books long epic. Something I would love to see on TV as a drama series for kids epic. So far I have written mini bios for lots of characters, several short stories which basically serve as sample chapters, and have loosely plotted the book, or books. It is definitely going to be a four book series, and I need to have Elliot Pie, Tree of Rebels and Song For Bill Robinson all done and dusted before I can bury myself in this little beauty for a very, very long time…

There are actually two more notebooks I couldn’t be bothered to photograph. One I take with me to my writing group and workshops so I can note down thoughts on people’s readings, or make plans, or tick people off etc. And the other is my very secret and special Christmas planning notebook! But obviously, I don’t want anyone to see that one!

So how about you? Are you a list person? Do you need to write things down in order to remember them? Maybe you use your phone, or a calendar? Am I the only one who makes use of copious amounts of notebooks at the same time?? Please comment! I love hearing from you!