On writing. And starting over.

I’m not the world’s best blogger, or twitterer, or Facebook user. People who’ve stumbled across this occasional blog, or seen me on FB or Twitter, will have realised this anyway. But I am online here, and elsewhere, sometimes and, dear reader of this blog, I do appreciate your patience. Thank you for reading.

But, offline, I’ve been writing. There’s now a draft that is a proper story, with a beginning, a middle and an end. And I’m not sure about it at all. The book is a sequel to After the Ruin. Well, sort of. It’s linear. It’s straightforward. It’s simple. And those, perhaps, are the problems, After the Ruin not really being any of those things. So now I’m pondering what to do: whether to revise it into a better version of itself or rework it more heavily into a different book whose structure more closely resembles that of After the Ruin, but which is less a sequel and more a book set in the same world and sharing some characters*. To that end, I’ve started again, and begun to write the same, or at least an overlapping, story but starting with different people, in a different place and time. When it’s done – and that will take time (I write slowly and in the edges of my life) – I’ll decide which version takes precedence or whether the two get woven together into one. It’s a long, slow process for me, writing a book; when I’m flagging, I remind myself that the first draft of what became After the Ruin was also linear, simple and straightforward. The good stuff – the resonances, the connections, the imagery – happened during revision.

*plus selkies. Alas, since I started work on this at least every other Scottish novel I come across also seems to involve selkies. Ah well.

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2 Responses to On writing. And starting over.

  1. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with starting over, but if it were me and I already had the completed manuscript for the first draft, I’d look into rewriting that instead of starting again. I can’t remember which writer it is but the story is that said author writes the first draft of a book and then bins it, but then writes the same story again from memory. The idea is that he has gotten all the bad ideas out of him and he’s now enjoying a clear head whilst telling the same story.

    • The first version is safe, and that draft did indeed give me the characters and the story. The second version is – or will be – the same story but a different take on it. The two together will likely combine to form the whole book. That is at least what happened last time (I’m a make it up as you go along writer and revise, alter and extend heavily between drafts). Also, I don’t want to write a simple sequel because that would require people to read ‘After the Ruin’ first. The (projected) final version will be a standalone that could be read before, or after, or instead of AtR, though I hope, of course, people will want to read both.

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