I have left London for a week and come here to mid-Wales, to be with my new book, Magic for the Living. I say ‘be with’ because I have found that although writing is part of what books require, they also need other forms of attention.
Magic for the Living is my fourth book and my second novel. Each experience has been different but all have had elements in common. It’s generally accepted that people ‘write’ books and of course I don’t disagree with that! Especially in terms of getting down the first draft, there is little to be done but to get on and write it.
But there is more to finishing a book than writing, than the actual process of putting words down one after another.
Sometimes, especially but not only in the early stages, I feel as if I am incubating the book. At other times, I’m wrestling – or mud-wrestling – with it. There are also periods when what seems needed is a respectful distance, allowing the book a little space.
Key to the process for me is listening to the characters, or peering for them in the mist, needing to wait for them to present themselves more clearly, to emerge and step forward. And sometimes, I’m asking them – telling them – that I need more from them, must be allowed deeper into their stories, past and present. Often, they are not who I thought they were.
It’s a luxury, to go away together for a short time. But being with the book can be challenging. It’s a relationship and like most significant relationships – it’s intense.
What is your writing process? I’d love to hear about it, if you feel like commenting.