I started writing something new yesterday. I say new, it’s actually an old short story of mine that I’m turning into a longer work. The point is that I’m back in the saddle. That makes me happy.
I finished my last novel almost two months ago and needed to take a break. It’s something I do after completing anything. That’s partly because I need to and partly to let the old characters disappear into the distance to leave room for the next plots and participants to circulate and breathe.
As usual, the first few weeks were a treat. No early mornings. More time to do the housework and extra space for the children. Extra-long walks by the sea and the luxury of reading during the day. After that, though, the pleasure turned into the seeds of melancholy. If I leave the writing for too long it builds into a fear of what’s coming next. A worry that I’ll not be able to fill another page with any words that make sense.
It’s a bit like returning to teaching after a break, especially the summer holiday. The worry is that I’ve forgotten how to do it. That maybe the children have changed or my experience and knowledge has disappeared. It hasn’t happened yet, though as I get older the number of new initiatives I’m not fully engaged with grows and laps around my head as if ready to drown me. The main thing is that I keep turning up at the start of each new term and I’m still working with children some twenty five years since I qualified.
A month or so away from story-writing and doubt takes over in a similar way. Is the idea I’ve got worth taking forward and investing so much time into? Can I shape a vague plan into a work that moves from one moment to another? From one chapter to the next? Are the characters going to become real again? These questions loom large and I find myself losing the courage to face them. With every passing day the discomfort grows. Then the time comes when a decision has to be made. For me, that came yesterday. It was a yes. I’m going to give it a go because I need to.
In terms of the questions asked only days earlier, I’m not sure what the answers will be. I don’t know if it will work out. Whether the characters will come alive. If anyone will ever want to read it. What I do know is that I’m back in the saddle and, looking down from the height that offers, the world suddenly seems a much less daunting place.