Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Starting something new

Jennifer wrote yesterday about getting ‘stuck’ with her writing, and wondered how to get unstuck. I’ve been in the same situation recently, with a story I seem to have been writing forever. In June, I left it on the backburner while I returned to the story I’d written for NaNoWriMo last year. At least the whole story was there, and although I had to change several scenes and add others, I managed to complete it and submitted it at the beginning of November this year (it’s been accepted, by the way!)
In mid-October, once I’d completed that one, I turned my attention back to ‘Different Worlds’, but if you remember my post last week, again I got to the stage where I felt it wasn’t working. Someone read it (as least as far as Chapter 10) and says she loves it, which has given me a little more confidence. But after adding only 25 words one evening, and only about 100 the next, I decided I needed another break from it.
But what to do now? My mind went back to an article I’d seen recently about an apartment in Paris which had been unlived in and untouched for over 70 years. The lady who owned it had fled to the south of France on the outbreak of war in 1939, and had never returned. When she died, the apartment was discovered exactly as it had been left, and there was also a link to her grandmother and a 19th century artist.
The story stuck in my mind, so last weekend I thought more about it, and the inevitable ‘What if?’ cogs started to turn. As a result, I started to compile a ‘family tree’ linking the grandmother to a 25 year old in 2012. Working out all the dates of the different generations, and also what happened when and why, was complicated, to say the least!
I was still thinking of having the setting in Paris, but then realised my recently accepted novel has a Paris setting, so I thought it better to have a change from that. How about the Lake District? No, I’ve already set two novels there (plus the one that isn’t working). Where else then?
The answer came easily. Ireland, of course, since I’ve been there so many times during the past few years. Now I had to adapt the family tree, and invent a different kind of backstory, because of course there was no need for the family to flee at the outbreak of war, as Ireland was neutral. The whole thing became somewhat complex, as it also involved the hero’s family history too.
On Saturday evening, I wrote over a thousand words (more than I’d added to my other story in more than a week!), then changed the setting from Paris to Ireland, and I’d finished the first chapter (just over 3,000 words) by yesterday evening.
The ‘other’ story is still turning over at the back of my mind, but for the moment I’m feeling considerably less ‘unstuck’ than I was at this time last week! 


  1. Ah yes, that stuck feeling. I am there now, and have been there too many times already.

    I am, however, so glad that you found a way to unstick yourself. :-)

  2. Hi Angela, it's quite consoling to realise we've all been there at some point, and indeed many times. Hope you find some way to become 'unstick'! Thanks for visiting!

  3. I know what it is to be stuck when writing. A change is good. Time is good. Realizing I'm not a dullard is good.
    Cleaning house is not good.

    I would think your new writing room would offer a bit of inspiration, Paula.

  4. To tell you the truth, Ana, when I'm glued to the computer screen, and lost in my own thoughts, I don't even notice my surroundings. The walls may now be pale green instead of sand (likewise the curtains - green instead of brown) but somehow I don't get my inspiration from my surroundings, but from all the convoluted thoughts going around in my head!
    Having said that, I did start wondering whether not having a break from this room for a long time was one of the reasons for me being stuck with one story - but I've now disproved that theory with my ideas for this new story!

  5. I'm glad you've figured out a way to get unstuck. I'm kind of looking at it as rocking back and forth between at least 2 of the stories (plus edits on the other). Hopefully, something will shake loose and I'll get back on a roll. In the meantime, I love the inspiration for your latest manuscript!

  6. Paula,

    Congrats on another acceptance! I am so jealous of your proloficness. (Is that a word?!)

    I forced myself to sit down with my revisions today, and I made a little headway. Tomorrow I hope to do the same. I figure if I chip away at it a little bit at a time, eventually it will be done.

  7. Jen - another way to get back on a roll is to start something completely new. I'd become really fed-up with the 'other' story, but this week I've been fired with enthusiasm for the new one!

  8. Debra - many thanks, although I'm not sure I would call myself prolific compared to some writers! With revisions, I think you're right, it's a case of chipping away at them until everything comes together.