Having recently finished the first draft of my new novel – “At Maunston Quay” – and having drawn a line under what may well prove to be my next collection of poetry – I am in editing mode again.
It’s a strange time in many ways. I like it because it’s a period filled with promise, where the joy of having something new to offer – physical and real – is so very close; where the reward for months of hard work will soon be manifest in a new, tangible ‘thing’. It’s not working on the words again and again which embodies my sense of anticipation the most, but rather finalising the cover. Perhaps that’s because the cover is what you first see; the envelope which encases, protects, and delivers the words I have written.
What has also struck me this time around is that it’s October, and I’m likely to be publishing early in the new year. Again. As if it were some kind of personal biorhythm, this cycle I seem to have found myself in; a twice-yearly round of writing, revising, publishing.
Of course what’s not so great about revising is not writing. I find writing something new whilst editing for publication more than difficult. Abstinence hurts. But it’s as if there is a danger of contamination. Which there is. If I start writing something new whilst editing – perhaps adopting a completely different style – the fear that this might bleed into the editing process and contaminate that which is already ‘finished’ is a real one.
But not writing is hard. Reassuringly so. It’s actually wonderful to feel the absence of creating so keenly! And so I plan while I hibernate, mapping out the next episode on the journey. I tease at titles, ideas; I write down fragments of unvarnished and isolated ‘things’, sometimes in the middle of the night. I compile clues and snippets; I latch on to names for characters, images to develop, knowing that there might be something in this idea or the next one that could prove to be really important. Not unlike a sleuth, it’s a little like trying to solve a mystery, Holmes on the moor surrounded by fog…
Thinking about it, maybe this isn’t such a bad part of the cycle either!