I’ve finally started writing again. No, the studio is not yet organised – the shelves are being fitted this week – but given that I’m used to writing in a dining room, a room with a pile of boxes is no less inspiring.
I’m writing my next book; book number three it will have to be called as I have no title in mind yet. I know very little about this book other than the idea that started it all. I know my main character’s name and her situation but I don’t yet know her.
Getting to know her is just like getting to know a real person. There’s something that attracts me to her and makes me want to find out more. To discover what her past is, what she eats for breakfast, what her favourite book is. Does she even read? I hope so!
I’ve written about 5 pages of this book. I am horribly slow at beginning a new piece. It all seems so laborious. Every word I write seems like the most unpublishable rubbish. But that’s because I don’t yet have my main character’s voice right. And I won’t, not until I write a little more. But writing without her voice is hard work. It’s a circle that goes round and round: because I don’t like what I’m writing I don’t want to write but I won’t like what I’m writing until I write some more and find her voice.
The only consoling factor is that this time I know the process works like this. When I was writing What is Left Over, After I could not believe how difficult it was to begin. To catch Gaelle’s voice consistently so that she sounded like her all the time, not like a distorted version of me. When I began writing Bodies, I hoped it would be different. That I would have learned enough to have the voice hit the page along with the first words I wrote. Of course it wasn’t different. The process of finding my main character’s voice was definitely quicker than the first time but it still made me feel as if I was the worst writer in the world.
So I’m back there again. With my brand new character who I hardly know and whose voice I can’t quite hear. But at least I know that, in a few months time when I’ve got the first draft complete, I’ll have the voice and I’ll know my character. Then I’ll just have the joy of redrafting to look forward to. But that’s a whole different blog.
What about you? Do you immediately hear your characters’ voices in your head? Or do you have to get to know them first?