When I am starting to write something substantial, I keep tabs on the ongoing process by creating a series of documents, the names beginning A1 to A9, B1. etc. That keeps them sorted chronologically and a 3 or 4 word description tells me what’s in them: ‘A1 At the beginning’, ‘A2 This place remembers’ or ‘B1 July 2019’.
It is rough and ready. There are fine writing programs available, but I can’t be bothered learning another bloody program. Yet. So this is the system I have developed after writing two books. It gets me going at least.
I looked back this morning to find 10 documents, each one containing at least one start to this current work. In the longest, I count 12 attempts to get going. Making a start is not so difficult for me; it’s sustaining it that’s the issue.
I have been researching this for five years and still only scratched the surface on the subject. And I will suddenly come across an appealing way to begin, and begin, only to find it petering out – going nowhere. When I come back to it, after hours, days or months, it usually seems trite. I was right to stop.
I have given up a number of times. But the itch of this story never truly goes away. Like the Kapooka story.
I spent twenty years or more researching my family histories before I sat down to write them. That took a couple of years as well. Once I had finished the writing of what I knew, it was as though I had drawn a line beneath it. It was finished. My writing of the story, and of endlessly searching it out, was ended. The same The Kapooka Tragedy and The Bracelet.
So, in a way, I am not surprised this one is still itching away at me.
BUT, I may have finally made the final start. The word count is up to 10,000 words. It is very slow so far. Nothing much has happened. That’s OK. Most of this will end up in the bin, probably. The important thing is that the project is moving. Words are being written. Characters are turning up.
What intrigues me about this time writing is my approach. There could be many factors contributing but they are immaterial at this point. I don’t bother trying to see the way ahead in a session. I have a start-point, a sentence. That is all. It proceeds from there. I am not detached from the process – not at all. I am constantly peering into the potentials, the width of choices in the direction to take as the sentences unfold. They don’t unfold themselves, as if I am some innocent bystander; no, I am completely engaged in what’s happening now, right at the point if the pen so to speak, and regarding what comes immediately next. When I run out of what-comes-next, I stop.
It might be complete drivel. I don’t know yet. I haven’t done any re-reading of passages to get a sense of where to go next or whether to chuck it and make another start.