I’ve never blamed Ian McEwan for anything in my life, but now I hold him responsible for being the catalyst that changed a lot of things about my writing and self imposed deadlines that I thought were fixed. It began with a chance flick through of his novel, Enduring Love ,whilst waiting for Carol Birch, author and Orange Prize nominee for her book, Jamarach’s Menagerie, to start her reading at my local bookshop. I’ve read quite a few of his books over the years and enjoyed them, but scanning through Enduring Love, a story written in the first person, past tense, I was re-struck by how brilliant it was and suddenly realised why my own novel hadn’t been flowing so well of late – it was in the wrong tense! Having written over 40,000 words of The Part Time Wife, this was an uncomfortable realisation, but still, something had clicked and strangely I felt relieved. Finally, an answer to my problem. A quick twitter conversation with the mentor who directed me to a great post about the use of present tense narratives on Emma Darwin’s blog, This Itch of Writing, and the decision was made: I’m re-writing it. So having, spent the last two months painstakingly editing and re-writing the first few chapters, I now have to go back to the beginning and in some ways, start again.
But still, I’m doing it. I may be many things, but I’m not a quitter.
Meanwhile, on planet MA course, I got feedback from my tutor on a piece that I’d written, that in truth, was the beginnings of a second novel, but that also had the potential to masquerade as a short story. The good news is she asked for a second chapter for next time. The brilliant news is that I’ve already written it, am half way through a third and have detailed plans for the next six. The way I’m feeling about novel number two, I could be finished in three months! How did this happen?! What about my plans for The Part Time Wife? I’m feeling weirdly hysterically about the whole thing. It’s as if novel number two is literally writing itself and I’m powerless to stop it. To think that in a couple of weeks, I could potentially post a wordcount matching The Part Time Wife, a novel I’ve been messing around with on and off, mostly off, for the last five years just seems ridiculous but, honestly, the way I’m going at the moment, it could happen. Is this what happens? Is it ok to cheat on your first novel with your second before it’s even finished? I feel guilty, but strangely euphoric.
Writing: it’s an emotional rollercoaster.