One of the advantages to not being a mainstream published author yet is that I have no expectations to meet except those I put on myself. No deadlines, no commissioned work, no genre I’m expected to write in or series I need to complete. I can experiment and dip in and out of work as I feel fit. I can wait for the Muse to descend.
Except that being a naturally disorganised person, this tends to leave me fumbling around blindly rather than flowing freely as I’d like to imagine. I flit from one idea to another and when I go through a patch (as I am at the minute) where I have several ideas jostling for attention I panic and let a sort of fog cover the mess in my head. That way I can have the satisfaction of knowing I do have lots of ideas but not actually the mess they’re creating by fighting amongst themselves. Oh, and it means I get virtually no decent writing done. Simply because I’m flitting around the edges of the fog and not getting stuck in.
This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. After all, as I said I have no external expectations to meet. The only person I’m letting down is myself really. But then every now and then I feel irritated with myself and my lack of progress. I’ll either feel confident in my work, a surge of belief in myself that I really can do this if I just stop faffing around and get on, or I feel completely intimidated by my lovely writerly friends who really are getting on with it and having much-deserved success. When that happens I tell myself I can’t be a real writer because if I was I’d be, y’know, writing. What I really need to do is clear the fog.
I had one of those sessions this morning. As simple as getting a notebook and writing down everything that’s bubbling away in my head, then sorting it into current projects, projects to be shelved for now, and projects that are fermenting. I love the fermenting process. It’s how I distinguish between a flash of genius that actually can’t go anywhere and something that I could really do something with. I get the idea, write a quick note to get it down before I forget, and mentally file it. Then as different sparks appear over the few weeks I write those down too and hopefully I get enough to start thinking about characters and plot. I usually start with a character, and maybe a setting then the plot starts to appear. Then I leave the whole thing, don’t touch it as I have other things to work on but as it’s not ‘put away’ it continues to tick away in the background. I’ve got one fermenting at the minute that I love.
The really funny thing? The fermenting idea is always The One. The one I’m going to finish, adore and get a six-figure advance for. You never know.