This time last week I was relaxing after having taken part in NaNoWriMo and was feeling particularly chuffed with myself having not only finished a fifty thousand plus book in twenty eight days but had also developed a quite stinging tendon pain having hit the keyboard over a quarter of a million times. “I need a break for a bit, I’ll have a week off and then I’ll take December to edit the book before sending it off to be rejected by publishers and agents” I thought, and sat down to think of non-book related things.
This didn’t last long, it was actually for only one more day that I stopped not doing book things and started writing my third book. I’m now thinking that I have wasted twelve years of my life, brain-wise. You see, I started writing my first book “Dead Famous” about 12 years ago as a film script. After eleven and a half years of not very much progress I gave up on that idea and changed it into a novel instead. Six months later it was done, how spiffing, I thought. How fun too, so much fun in fact that when NaNoWriMo came along I signed right up for it and I already had an idea to hit the ground running with, a kind of Forest Gump story in which the main characters are cats and not humans. The idea had been running around my head for at least a year before so it was logical that it should be my next effort. As the idea had been there for so long, I also knew the story pretty much inside and out, so it was easy to write by just emptying my brain onto the keyboard. Here’s the problem, when that was finished, I wanted to write a third book, but had no pre-conceived ideas. Now the challenge starts.
I’ve come up with an idea for the book, started writing it out and have read it to some test subjects who have laughed in the right places and reacted to the story idea well too. All good. One problem: I have absolutely no idea how this book ends. I’m guessing this isn’t really going to be so much of an issue, as the book goes along I’ll start to know the characters better, know their habits and opinions, and therefore one plus one equals the ending will be logical to how the characters would behave or react to certain situations.
How does this apply to other authors, I wonder? Did Agatha Christie know who had killed who or was it as much a surprise to her as to everyone else at the end of the book? Did Charles Dickens know that the people being treated badly throughout their lives would eventually become satisfied and plump by the end of their story? I’d guess they mainly did, but part of me hopes not because I would like to think that writing a book should be just as much an adventure of discovery for the writer as for the reader. The next adventure, for me, would be to see one of my books on a shelf. If I never get round to editing them properly, though, then that’s never ever ever going to happen. I’d better get a move on.