Pieces 09: Texture later
Day four or my writing retreat and I'm working on the opening and getting words on the page.
There’s something about sending an email a day to a load of people. It’s quite nice.
From a writing point of view, it’s making me think about what I’m up to and what I have done. Earlier today, a lovely reader messaged to say it was like reading my journal. Which I kind of like!
Anyway. Thanks for being on the other end of these emails.
This is Pieces by the way. A pop-up newsletter in which I’m documenting my week-long writing retreat. Just in case you’re new.
Here’s what I’ve been up to today.
Let’s cut to the chase.
I spent almost all my time working on a new opening to the novel. The plan was to reuse the material I already have and though it’s been useful and I’ve pinched sentences from it, I’m mostly writing fresh.
That’s okay, you know? The work I did Monday to Wednesday suggested this was the way to go. And my experience writing A is for Angelica taught me not to precious about what you might easily consider time wasted.
I reckon there is no such thing. All time spent writing is time invested, not wasted. You will have unproductive sessions and no doubt write some total dross. But it all keeps the cogs turning. To get to the wheat, you must create plenty of chaff. And then separate one from the other.
I do not know what chaff is.
I am a slow writer.
I find it hard not to stop and make things perfect beforeI move on to something else. That’s even though I know it will never be perfect and I will need to make changes later anyway.
What an affliction!
I try and put my inner perfectionist to one side. I’m happy with progress but the writing feels sparse. I have a fairly economical style of writing anyway. This feels slightly different. Am I just listing things that happen?!
I want to go with it for now. I can add texture later.
Actually, that reminds me of one of my favourite bits of writing advice. The screenwriter, John August on how to write a scene says the only thing to ask is, ‘What needs to happen?’ No worrying about what characters want.
Focus on action and movement and progress.
Afternoon now. I need to take a short break to for some freelance work. I know, I know! This is the reality of running your own business. My clients have all been fantastic about me taking this week off to write fiction. But I always knew there would be the odd couple of hours I would need to do.
Back to it.
Spend some time Googling cave networks, rock types and whether it’s at all possible for a certain thing to happen if this other thing happened. The answer appears to be yes, but I expect I’ll need to speak to a real-life expert at some point in the future.
It’s pretty key to the opening scene though, so fingers crossed!
I keep writing and reading what I have written and persuading myself to keep going. Very aware just how out of practice I am. How little momentum I have had until this point. But I can also feel it growing. I already know that this week has been time well spent. Invested.
I text my wife to tell her she must force me to write every day once this writing retreat is over. As if it’s her responsibility.
Time to call it a day. The kids are home. Dinner is ready.
How many words today? Just short of 1000.
Just one more day to go. Can you believe it?
I feel like I’m just getting started, but I’m also happy with how it’s going. Tomorrow I will get some more words down and maybe, just maybe, turn those Post it notes from earlier in the week into rows in Notion.
Thanks again for following along. As always, you can read previous issues of Pieces on my website. I’ll be sending into next week too as I reflect on where I am once reality rears it’s head again. Bloody reality.
Six gloved handshakes,
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