Someone asked me not long after the birth of my first son would I ever have another baby. My expression must have been one of horrified exhaustion and bewilderment. It was too soon to think about it.
Now that my first novel is completed and about to leave home, I feel it is time to add to my literary offspring, but just like planning another baby, the questions spring to mind – Isn’t one enough? Have I got it in me? How well will I cope? What would I do differently this time?
The first book, like some experiences of first time parenting, was a happy accident, a blissfully ignorant foray into I-don’t-know-what-I’m-really-getting-into-land. I took the NIKE approach – JUST DO IT! – slapped all my words and ideas down on the potter’s wheel of my keyboard and then took endless hours shaping and re-shaping.
I thought about Michelangelo’s idea that ‘Every block of stone has a statue inside it and it is the task of the sculptor to discover it.’ Surely if I threw it all down, a novel would emerge?
And thankfully, somehow, one did.
However, the revisions were made much more difficult with this approach. It was messy. It was a complicated storyline anyway, which made the revisions all the more like a long, painful labour.
The experience has left me approaching my second novel in trepidation. This time, I shall try a rough plan. But that’s all. Because I believe it is between the pencil and the paper, the fingertips and the keys, that the story begins to reveal itself to the writer, that somewhere, within, there is a perfect story waiting to emerge. All we have to do it remove the excess.
Pass me a chisel.