Writing a story is often a bit like a relationship. Especially when the project is a big one you find yourself at a bit of a loss when it ends. You might read over it again and again, find any excuse to look at your favourite passages or moments you’re especially proud of in what essentially amounts to drunk dialling your ex. You might decide it isn’t over and try to come up with a sequel, prequel or addendum that you hadn’t previously planned for. Or you might forcibly decide to move on by rebounding with a new story that isn’t ready to be written yet. But, like the end of a relationship, the end of a story is something that it takes time to come to terms with, even if you spend that time wishing you could either go back to before or else speed up this odd grieving process.
I’m kind of in that weird stage at the moment. As I’ve written a lot about recently, I’ve spent the last year buried in a new re-write of Windmills, which I think is probably the best the story has ever been or will ever be. Consequently this means that finishing this novel wasn’t just the end of another major project, but rather the end of an ongoing process that started in 2009. And so trying to work out what to do next has been tricky.
I’ve got no shortage of ideas. I want to adapt Heroes into a novel and Sunburnt Country into a screenplay. I was to write a Boone Shepard play. I have a bunch of film screenplay ideas; a coming of age drama, a quirky university set romantic comedy and, as of today, a family film about the discovery of the Loch Ness Monster. Every one of these pursuits could represent something new and exciting for me; every one could be the next thing that electrifies my imagination and becomes a lasting obsession. And yet I’m finding it hard to invest in any of them because I still have the lingering taste of Windmills. I’m still thinking about that world and those characters and consequently I’m finding my time in Scotland characterised by an inability to knuckle down and work on one new project, which is something I really wanted to do while here.
Molly and I spoke about this the other day, about feeling like a place should be inspiring you and getting your creativity going. I think Scotland is having that effect; I’ve come up with at least five new stories ideas while here, but making myself sit down and actually write is proving to be the problem, thanks to that nasty little Windmills hangover. That’s the main reason that I’m sitting in a Loch Ness pub right now bemoaning this feeling in text instead of working on something new.
But then I guess that old bit of advice for writing is to apply the seat of the pants to the seat of the chair and just do it; if I sit around waiting for something to capture my mind the same way Windmills did then I’m probably going to be waiting a long time. So, capitalising on something that has been on my mind a fair bit recently, I think I’m going to take a run at that Heroes novel and see what happens. Otherwise I’ll be back to the blog before long.
Writing words about writing words.