… it’s only in the doing of it that I discover what works and what doesn’t.
I can plan and plan and plan and I do, but when I do I tend, at least some of the time, to let myself get away with vague descriptions, half-formed theories or, sometimes, whole ideas that don’t hold water. (And in life the way I imagine things will happen is rarely the way they do happen!) But the thing is, when I’m planning a novel, I’m blind to my vaguaries. I don’t know I’m letting myself get away with it. I think the thing’s watertight (The best-laid schemes o’ mice an’ men / Gang aft agley: Robert Burns). It’s only when I begin to write scenes that I discover the history I’ve given the characters isn’t congruent with the way the story will work; isn’t even congruent with the words they’re speaking, sometimes.
So … it’s only in the writing that I discover what really works. But I can’t do without plans, even if they’re rudimentary (and sieve-like). So what I plan (!) to do from now on is plan a bit and then write a bit, plan some more and write some more, because I’ve discovered that if I don’t plan at all I write miles of words in the wrong direction (I wrote about that here, several years ago: it seems I’m a slow learner!). And if I plan too much I kid myself into thinking I’m actually doing the bit that matters, when I’m not.
Although one thing that’s remained constant in my writing so far is that I always know how the novel will end: it’s just the getting there that’s not so clear. Just like life … .
And the thing I would love to have made this month, in a parallel world where all is possible and time is infinite, is Barbara Hepworth’s SINGLE FORM: