Two words I always struggle to spell correctly are yacht and rhythm. It took me three attempts to write rhythm correctly and I gave up on yacht and used the spell checker. (I’ve had to do it a second time already.)
When I was a child I saw a drawing of a yacht in a picture book and was captivated by it. I loved the idea of the tiny hull with the huge, graceful sail soaring above it. Whenever we had rabbit stew I would fish out the rib-cage and pretend it was the remains of a dinosaur and another bone that looked like the sail of a yacht which I would hold aloft as I ran around the house. (We were not a rich family.) Now that I live on the French Riviera I delight to watch the yachts as they glide across the water.
But I did not come here to write about yachts. I came to write about rhythm and more specifically the rhythm of writing. By this I mean the stages of writing which I prefer to call rhythm.
In theory I write in these stages: 1. Research and Planning. 2. Write the book. 3. Edit. Nice, simple and neat.
But that’s not the reality. In practice I write more like this: 1. Research and Planning. 2.Write first draft and still carry on researching. I also edit throughout this stage as each morning I normally re-read what I’ve written the day before to iron out any errors, typos, characters changing names, shapes, personalities etc. 3. Edit and then 4. Rewrite.
So that’s one rhythm. It’s much more organic and fluid than the simple three-stage model I have in my mind before I start writing.
It’s the second aspect of rhythm which is much more tricky. This is because between stages 2. Writing and 3. Editing I like to rest the book. It gives me a break from the full-on writing stage and, even more importantly, gives me distance from what I’ve written so that I can come back to it with a fresher eye.
The difficulty is what to do in this period. Do I start a new novel? Or do I merely research a new novel and put this on hold while I go back and edit the one I’m ‘working on.’ This means that the new novel has an awfully long gap between Stage 1 and Stage 2. Researching and writing a new novel means that there is an even longer gap between Stage 2 and Stage 3 of the previous novel.
I’ve tried both and even tried the straight through method although I don’t think this works as well or me as I need the break before I start doing an edit.
It’s a conundrum which I’m going through now as I’ve just finished writing the first draft of ‘Scarecrow Army’ (working title) and can’t stop thinking, researching and planning the second instalment of Alice Petherton.
Now he’s a cool looking guy and he shouted at to me to use him in my new book. What will he think of Alice? And what will she think of him?
I’ve just found out that he may have been a poet called Nicholas Bourbon who went to Henry VIII’s court to thank him and Anne Boleyn for their help.
Now this is research by serendipity. I like it.