I promised you a publication date for Speak Its Name, and I’ve got one. It’s Tuesday 2nd February – just over a month away. That’s long enough for my army of editors to get back to me with any last nitpicks, and for me to wrestle the finished work into the desired format, but also gives me time before my day job (yes, I have one) starts getting really busy and devouring my brain at the end of February. In the liturgical calendar, 2nd February is the festival of Candlemas, which is an entirely appropriate day to decide that there’s been quite enough waiting around.
I’d therefore like to invite you to join me on this blog from around 7pm (GMT) on Tuesday 2nd February, and I will press the magic button that makes the book available, and tell you how to get hold of it. I will have prosecco, but I think that’s one thing that can’t be shared via wi-fi.
In the meantime, I’ll be over here, moaning about the horrors of formatting, and sharing extracts and pictures of the cover. The end is in sight, but I can’t quite believe it…
Crossing the barren wastes of plot
Experience has taught me that I simply cannot start at the beginning of a story and go on until I get to the end and then stop. I have remarked before that my writing process is less like laying a road than it is like connecting up islands of an archipelago. I start with two or three very definite pictures or ideas in my head, and usually have a basic idea of their position in relation to one another. Writing those down will induce five or six other islands to erupt from the seabed. And they drag more up behind them. After that it’s a matter of building bridges, or causeways, perhaps throwing in an artificial island, perhaps bypassing three or four of the early ones, after all.
It implies a phenomenal amount of rewriting, to ensure that character development and such things are consistent. But that’s probably good for me, and anyway, it’s the only way that I can do it.
I have discovered that, even if I plot the whole thing out in advance, some scene that’s meant to happen two thirds of the way through catches my imagination and refuses to let anything else past until I’ve written it. I then say ‘sod it’, and continue writing the bits that happen to catch my fancy at that moment.
Perhaps island-hopping just suits me.
God said that it was good, and ought to know,
But we, invested in our guilty woe,
Couldn’t see that. God went below
To render, or perhaps to prove, it so.
And some mince pies, sadly virtual
On Sunday I made mince pies for my mother’s birthday lunch. They turned out beautifully: proper boozy, nutty, mincemeat in thin, crisp pastry. I made more today, while listening to the Nine Lessons and Carols; they aren’t quite so good, but they will do very nicely. My plans for the next twenty-four hours go: church, eat, church, sleep, church, cook, eat, sleep. I hope you have a lovely Christmas, if you celebrate, and if you don’t I hope you have a lovely time not celebrating!
I’ve been doing more work on Speak Its Name with the help of my obliging ex-colleague. We’ve arranged to continue edits on each other’s work over the Christmas break. And I’ve promised myself that on New Year’s Eve I will set a firm date for publication. I’m thinking in terms of early to mid February at the moment, but, as ever, I need to check some things with some people. Come back on the 31st and I will let you know!
Your last challenge for Reverb15 is to write your manifesto for 2016.
I find myself thinking back to previous years.
I remember my 2014 dammit list.
I remember my 2013 list of non-negotiable conditions for 2014: alive; sane; married; employed
I remember the dreamboard I made in 2012, looking forward to 2013:
Dreams for 2013
I take responsibility for my own work and my own words.
I take decisive steps towards the goals that I deem to be important.
I take my needs and desires seriously.
I take care of myself.
I take a proper holiday.
I take every other weekend to recover from activity or company.
I take time.
I take notice.
Today, I invite you to think about the great unknowns in your life right now. Say to yourself this morning: “I am open to the answers finding me”. Then stay alert with as many senses as you can.
In what form did the answers find you?
I was thinking about The Hitch-hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy this morning. It has some things to say about answers. After that, it has some things to say about questions.
That might be the answer. I don’t know. I’m not really sure what the question is. So I shall just note down:
Some things I noticed today:
- the charge for home delivery for items from one particular shop: £3.95
- a delivery bike coming over the bridge
- that carrying a large, heavy box home is very hard on the shoulders and the fingers
Or what about this?
- Yesterday I used the last lavender Earl Grey teabag.
- Today I opened the box of Christmas tea that my mother didn’t want.
Since we’re talking about Christmas, in this morning’s veg box there were:
- brussels sprouts
- satsumas (!)
- red cabbage
Tomorrow I need to buy:
- icing sugar
- turkey escalopes
- plain flour
and that will easily fit into two pannier bags.
- I am pretty much ready for Christmas
- I slept until a quarter to nine, and
- I could very well have had a nap after lunch, and
- I’m really quite sleepy now.
Do you know, I’m not sure that I am open to the answers finding me today. I think they’re waiting until I’m actually ready to do something with them. And what’s particularly interesting is that I’m fine with this. I don’t want massive progress right this minute. I’m still catching up with myself. I need some more space. So, I suspect, do the answers.
Today I am wondering what would happen if I allowed a little more out-of-control-ness in my life.
So I invite you to consider: where could you (like me) consider turning it up a few notches in the new year?
What would it be like if I turned off my morning alarm and slept as long as I needed to?
What would it be like if I just didn’t bother talking to people I didn’t feel like talking to?
What would it be like if I wasn’t scared of top Fs?
What would it be like if I stopped agreeing to do things that I didn’t want to do?
What would it be like if I started admitting to wanting what I actually wanted?
What would it be like if I remembered to make my choices based on what I actually wanted?
What would it be like if I got rid of everything that people had given me that I didn’t like?
What would it be like if I tried one or more of the above?