Yesterday was my first day on the new job. Despite common assumptions (names withheld to protect the innocent) that I’d be spending it loafing, I was in a variety of meetings all day concerned with some freelance projects I’ll be working on.
The work trousers, you’ll be glad to know, stayed in the wardrobe (by wardrobe, I mean dangling over the side of the washing basket).
I did, however, also manage a couple of hours writing – which is going to be my primary task over the next few months. A ‘time to write’ grant from the Arts Council has made it possible for me to be picky about the other kinds of things I do, and has also, since I’ll be being mentored through the next few months, impressed on me the need to get some kind of plan together for how I’m going to tackle this last bit of my book.
I am such a messy writer. I go back and forth through the manuscript, taking seven or eight or nine drafts to turn something that is nothing more than a hand-written note form plot-outline-with-dialogue in seven A4 notebooks, into a document that is fit for someone else to read. I don’t work in a linear fashion, and there are still a few gaps in the book where I’ve been merrily typing around issues I promised myself I’d ‘sort out later’. Later is now, which is the long way of saying that I realised I needed to do some more research.
(This is a hint for lazy writers: don’t, whatever you do, start writing about a character that is very knowledgeable (near obsessed, in fact) with something that you know nothing about. If you are going to do that, don’t structure your book in a way that means you’ll need to have the facts about these things explicit. Even if they are really, really interesting and fit fantastically well with your theme.)
I know some writers go and see people and conduct interviews. Others read books or take pictures. I’ve read a lot of books: my favourite was There Are Giants in the Sea: Monsters and Mysteries of the Depths Explored, by Michael Bright.
Sometime in the next couple of weeks I’m planning a day trip to Morecambe Bay to research setting, and another to Lancaster to visit this museum. I’m not sure yet what it is exactly I need to find out, so I think it will be a day of wandering with a camera and a cagoule, picking bits up here and there like a magpie.
Unless anyone has a better suggestion?