And the result is…(drum-roll)…Work in Progress!
I do have a page for this but I guess it’s nothing but a tease. Also, I don’t update it all that often, to be honest, so it’s nearly always out-of-date. Perhaps by blogging about it I will remember to keep on top of it at all times.
So, what have I been working on this week?
Well, the main projects I’ve been working on lately are the radio play and this new novel. I’ll start with the play.
The inspiration for it came from two films: Contagion and Perfect Sense. I had the image of the view from a window of a post-apocalyptic street and started thinking about how a character would react if they just woke up one morning, looked out of their window, and saw that. So I wrote a first draft. I wanted to end with the girl leaving her flat but I’d given no hint at any explanation for the apocalypse. In fact, I didn’t even know anything about it, myself. So I decided to keep writing and ended up finishing the first draft with her working it out. Then I put it aside for a while until I got back to university when I started typing it up. At first it was going well, I had a few doubts nibbling the back of my mind, but I managed to write a couple of scenes. Then it felt like trying to run through water. So I put it aside again. The problem was I’d had ideas for other scenes, scenes that would take place before my opening and would hint at the cause of the apocalypse. When I went back to it, I had intended to write a new opening but then I read back the original (first draft, not typed up) and I liked that opening, with that image, any other just wouldn’t have the same effect. The tone was wrong, so I would have to start typing it up again, but I could work from my original draft. So that’s what I’ve been doing. I’ve also written the extra scenes, which I’m going to slot in, so that I start in the present, go back in time for a scene, then go back to the present for a while, etc. I’ve got to the point now, though, where I’m missing at least one scene and I’m also worried that it won’t be long enough. I’d intended it for an Afternoon Play, which would be 45 minutes. What I’ve got is about 10 and I don’t have much more to add. So I might not be able to end it with her leaving the flat. I intend to workshop the beginning soon, so I’m going to leave it until then.
In the meantime, I’ve been working on a new novel. This one sort of crept up on me. I knew I wanted to write a novel and I knew I wanted to write something dark. I’d written a couple of short stories which were exactly the sort of thing I wanted to write, except they were short. One of them isn’t even a page long. I also had a meeting with my tutor, who’d asked us all to arrange them so that we could discuss our plans for our dissertations. I wanted to have an idea to bring him for a new project, rather than just ‘a dark novel’ so I spent a lot of time thinking about it and worrying about what I was going to say to him. Then the idea emerged. I don’t remember a eureka moment, it was more like it had always been there, I just hadn’t paid it any attention before. I had an image of a woman in red walking down an otherwise empty cobbled street in high-heels under a full moon. She would be a figure in a dream, a doppelganger, and the dreamer would be a nice, normal, happily married woman unused to such dreams, which would have a disturbing, sexual atmosphere that she couldn’t quite place. These dreams would start to affect her – changing her behaviour – and she would start to see things from the dream – her double, especially, and lose her grip on reality. She would go insane. She would have a sister, and she would identify the woman in the dream as her, making her sister something of a doppelganger as well. Later, though, she would see herself as the woman. Since that meeting a couple of weeks ago, I’ve been avoiding writing anything down. I think I’ve had it running in the back of my mind pretty much all the time because little details keep trickling in. The name of her husband, for example, came to me while I was out. When I got home I looked it up (I always choose names with appropriate meanings) and the meaning was all wrong. I tried to change his name to Adam but for some reason, Duncan just stuck. I didn’t have a choice in the matter.
Yesterday I had a meeting with my other tutor and told her about my fear of novels. She suggested I start doing exercises, character studies, just don’t think of them as related to the novel itself. She also said I didn’t have to worry about having it all figured out now, or even in time for the dissertation deadline. I only needed the beginning and what I thought it would turn out to be later on. If I changed my mind after the course, it wouldn’t matter. In fact, it would be unusual if I didn’t. Things hardly ever come out right the first time. After that I started planning. I found the names for the different full moons which gave me a structure and it fits pretty well, so I’ve been planning from that, in high detail. I’m up to 3 moons worth of plot, out of the 10 that I’ll use. That’s how much time the novel will span: 10 months.
I’ve also been reading about gothic novels and fairy tales and I’ve got some great books out of the library on certain myths, including Greek Wolf-Lore; The Moon: Myth and Image; and Blood Magic. I want to absorb as much mythology as I can before I start writing, so I can weave it all in without even being aware of it.
Sorry this has turned into a pretty mammoth blog-post. I didn’t think I’d have that much to say but I guess I’ve got to fill you in the stories so far. I’ll restrain myself next week. Promise!
P.S. I’m not sure if this is the sort of thing you wanted (‘you’ being those that voted for this topic) so please let me know what you think, especially if you’d rather I used a different angle or covered something else.