Friday, 30 October 2015
Writing as sculpture: finding and freeing the treasure hidden inside the rock
Writing feels to me a bit like carving a sculpture: it's as if I'm finding and freeing the treasure hidden inside the rock.
First come the seed ideas, the months of thinking and dreaming about my characters, their lives, their situations, the plot, the research that may never make its way into the finished novel, but which is the solid grounding reality and background to everything. That's the stone.
Then second, once it reaches a tipping point where all the elements are in place and I can no longer resist the writing, comes the first draft. That helps me see clearly the seams and fault lines of my characters, the shape and flow of the plot, the dovetailing strands of the story as I chip away. Now I can make full eye contact with the characters I dreamed up, hear them speak, smell and taste their world more vividly than before. That's the sculpting.
Then comes the editing, editing and re-editing which I love. It's like the tumble-polishing of the whole piece, murdering my darlings, killing dead adjectives, spotting typos, reordering, throwing it out to my faithful proofreaders to savage and sniff out the impurities and howlers. That's the smoothing.
Once it's published and out in the world with the readers it was born to meet, my writing can then be enjoyed and explored by everybody from their different viewpoints, preferences, angles, looking at the crystal with all its different facets, each reader taking away something different from my story. Such a privilege and joy when some are unable to look away until the end, getting what they need from the book I sculpted, perhaps treasuring it as a favourite read to return to again and again, each time getting something different from it.
I'm currently having such fun immersed in the sculpting stage of my second novel, which sees my heroine and hero from "Goatsucker Harvest" going into deep waters, dangers and wildlife dilemmas in a Humber Keel off Yorkshire's Holderness Coast and the sea cliffs and caves around Flamborough Head in the 1850s.
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