Writing

Will snowflakes help me write my next book?

Photo of a snowflake
The second I emailed my finished Oh Sugar! manuscript to the publishers, I vowed I would not write another book for quite some time.

I was exhausted.

And yet that very same afternoon I found myself pondering, Yes, but I did write another book, I wonder what it be?

Later that day, after I had cleaned the house, done the washing up, had numerous cups of tea and answered every email I could think of, I was sitting on the sofa wondering what to do next…

It dawned on me that I was bored. And it took me precisely one nanosecond to figure out why – there was an enormous book-shaped hole in my life!

Once I’d admitted this to myself, I instantly knew two very important things:
1) I would start to fill that book-shaped hole before the year was out, and
2) I needed time and space before I got my spade out.

TIME OUT…

So I gave myself a couple of months off. Not a couple of months off working; I still got up and hauled my arse to work. I mean time off from thinking about what happens next. Time off from striving for anything.

It was exactly what I needed.

At first there was just immense relief. Ah, I don’t have to get up at 5.30am and write for 15 hours solid. This is bliss!

My mind was blank. Everything had been downloaded.

But as the weeks of nothingness progressed, I started to hear the faint whisper of something calling me.

First, the glimmers of an idea for a non-fiction book wafted gently into my brain. Obviously, ideas wafting into your brain are things to be welcomed. But this idea was a book about writing and creativity. I tried to dismiss it… What are you THINKING? Have you completely lost your marbles? Who are YOU to write a book about writing? Think of something else for God’s sake!

But the idea refused to go away.

And worse, it started yelling at me. So I was forced to write what it was shouting about down. And these notes morphed into chapter headings. And it dawned on that this was a rather brilliant thing that no one else had really talked about before. And then I realised; Oh God, at some point in my life, I am going to have to actually write this book.

[Silence. Tumbleweed rolls past as I take in the enormity of this.]

Then another thing happened. Characters from my abandoned children’s novel started talking to me. At first they just popped up to say hello. Nice and polite and all that. But soon they started hinting (not very subtly, as it happens) that they would quite like to come out to play now.

And then I knew I really had a problem.

For starters, who writes two books at the same time, even if one is a novel and one is about writing a novel? And secondly, what do I do about the spaghetti?

SORTING OUT THE SPAGHETTI…

Remember that blog post I wrote way back in February in which I said that the plot for my children’s book was like a plate of spaghetti? “I can see lots of enticing strands of pasta but I have no idea how or where they meet up!”… Well, 10 months on, it’s still in the same state. Which is why, in desperation, I have ordered a writing book.

At this point, I need to admit something:

Up until now, the thought of reading books about ‘how to write’ has made me want to regurgitate my breakfast. I have no idea why. It’s not something I’m proud of. It’s just how it makes me feel. (It’s the same feeling I get if I think about going to a writing critique group and being made to do writing exercises.)

But desperate times call for desperate measures. My children’s book needs to be written. And that means I need to get over the spaghetti issue.

So I have ordered How to Write a Novel Using the Snowflake Method by Randy Ingermanson.

Why this book? Well, (a) as believe I may have mentioned, I am desperate, and (b) it looks like it’s no ordinary book on writing. Check out Randy’s website (especially the ‘About Randy’ section) and you’ll see what I mean.

Also, the book starts like this:

Goldilocks had always wanted to write a novel.

She learned to read before she went to kindergarten.

In grade school, she always had her nose in a book.

All through high school, Goldilocks dreamed of writing a book of her own someday.

But when she went to college, her parents persuaded her to study something practical.

Goldilocks hated practical, and secretly she kept reading novels. But she was a very obedient girl, so she did what her parents told her. She got a very practical degree in marketing…

It goes on in this vein for a while. And then comes the cool bit…

She suddenly realized that being practical had made her horribly unhappy.

On a whim, Goldilocks decided to do the one thing she had always wanted more than anything else—she was finally going to write a novel.

She didn’t care if it was impractical.

She didn’t care if nobody would ever read her novel.

She was going to do it just because she wanted to.

For the first time in years, she was going to do something just for herself.

And nobody was going to stop her.

Hello? Take out the name ‘Goldilocks’ (insert your name) and the degree in ‘marketing’ (insert your degree) and there you have a typical writer’s life story laid bare!

I can’t wait to see if the Snowflake Method is going to help me. (When I say ‘can’t wait’, I mean I am excited and jumping up and down like a kid on Christmas Eve.)

The book should be delivered tomorrow. I will read it over Christmas and let you know how I get on.


(Image: Microsoft Clip Art)

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