Friday, December 15, 2006

Giving up on my criminal past and finding a new direction

For the best part of the last two years I've been attempting to write crime fiction. I always used to read a lot of it and I guess like many other readers of the genre you think "hey, I could do that." The first attempt wasn't bad. I got as far as sixty thousand words but with my usual scatterbrained approach to these things I forget to back up the copy I had stored on my computer. Cue the inevitable big comedy computer crash, Martyn jumping up and down pulling his hair out, followed by a mellow mood of "well, let's put it down to experience", a mince pie from my mum and a lovely cup of tea. That's better...
If I'm being honest it wasn't much cop. No pun intended. So I like to see that lost effort as fateful. A necessary learning moment in the journey towards completed noveldom.
Then followed two more ideas. I couldn't decide which I liked best so I wrote both concurrently. Then I reached around fifteen thousand words with both and they both ran out of steam. Just like that. They now sit, like two incomplete twins on my PC hard drive taunting me with their unfinished nature. They're both an improvement on the first one.
Then followed attempt number three in April/May of this year. I had the characters worked out, the plot threaded to the nth degree, the mood music was set, the literary awards it would win already polished and sitting on my mantelpiece. Then I started writing it. I didn't like it all. It didn't interest me so I stopped and decided I wouldn't bother writing crime fiction after all.
After months of not really doing much creative an idea just popped in my head a few weeks back. Completely out of the blue, completely unrelated to anything I had ever thought of writing before. I didn't plan it, I didn't think about it, I didn't even know where it was going. I just had a couple of central characters and a ruse. I keep writing it. It just keeps pouring out as if I wasn't there and I'm really enjoying it. I've got finish it as I want to know how it ends. I think I'm going to use it in my MA application.
It's not crime. It's in no way related to crime. It's about relationships and stuff. Rachel has read what I've written so far and reckons it reminds her of Marian Keyes, someone I've never read or even been particularly aware of. Where it's coming from I don't know, but I'm sticking with it and we'll see what happens. It's set in York by the way and the central character is a thirtysomething woman called Lauren. That's all I'm willing to divulge at this early stage ;-)
Rach has been encouraging me to clear the decks, sod worrying about a crust for a while and just get the thing written which I think I've now managed to convince myself is what I'm going to do. Some work to tie up before Christmas but come the New Year I'm going to concentrate on getting the novel finished. I'm lucky in that I'm in a position where I can so it seems churlish not to give it a go.
I read an interesting post a while back on John Baker's blog about different writers approaches to writing. I think I've been guilty of attempting to "go by the book" too much and it's stifled my own creativity. I've wanted everything plotted and planned, the characters drawn and the conclusion in my head before I've even begun the first line. It's similar to how I write articles. I'm learning to step out of that straitjacket and just go with it.

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