And it hardly seems a minute since it was last September and I was on my research trip to Seville, to try to fill in the gaps in my research and geography that could only be done actually in Spain. The tapas and warm breezes seem a long time ago now after months of writing at the computer.
|Outside the Museum in Seville, bag contains camera and notebook!|
But it has allowed me to stop and think about the pressures on us as writers and to re-assess my priorities before I begin another novel. It also allowed me to read - and in doing that enjoy the creations of other writers. Somehow when I'm in the middle of a novel I don't make enough time for just reading.
|The beautiful Alcazar, Seville|
i. Walk more. I live in a beautiful part of the world, but spend far too much time in front of a screen. To do this, I'll need to be organised, so that I waste less time on inessential computer tasks.
ii Rationalise my on-line social networking. When I first became a writer I joined every site that would have me, thinking that all publicity is good, right? But now I realise I can't possibly do it all if I want to have a life that isn't solely virtual. Although I have made some lovely contacts online, much social networking seems to be intensely competitive and motivated by the fear that if you don't do it your book will fail. But like most of us, I don't want to be under constant pressure, and from now on will only do social networking I think I can genuinely enjoy.And I hunger after the real - in life, in my fiction, and in my relationships with people.
iii. I miss my paintbrush now I'm no longer involved in scenography, so I thought I might join an art group. Getting out and about is essential if I'm not to turn into an unsociable hunched-over old lady who can only talk about her latest book.
iv. The writing is my greatest pleasure so I'm going to move my timetable to give me my optimum writing time (for me 9am - 1pm), and write my first draft quicker. I used to think eighteen months was a long time, but it goes so fast! I've realised I need much longer for the editing than I do for the drafting, so I'll aim to get all the research and a first draft done in nine months which will give me much more editing time. I love the editing, a chance to make it shine whilst knowing you do actually have a book in front of you.
v.Try to make the next book shorter! This morning Past Times Books (see logo on the right) let me know that they are now going to stock novellas of over 17,500 words. If only! I think I'm probably onto a loser with this one. I could write two short novels instead of one long one, I muse. Trouble is, I rather like the feel of a good meaty historical novel. And I really enjoyed Labyrinth and Pillars of the Earth and Wolf Hall, and had no trouble making it to the end. If the story grips you, then it grips you and I for one am quite happy with a big thick brick of a book.
vi. Eat a proper meal at least once a day without trying to read research papers or books at the same time.
Below you can see some of the books I used for my research during the last year. Most of them have the odd toast crumb or biscuit crumb between the pages as well as my markers. Though I have to say, I do look after my books!
What are your resolutions when you start a new project? And do you stick to them?
Which reminds me, it looks like lunch time. Off to make a healthy meal of pea and courgette soup.