Yesterday I wrote 4000 words. That’s a lot more than my usual. I was wondering why I get so tired of writing, and it occurred to me that because I tend to work slowly, I might be like someone carrying around a heavy suitcase for a long time. There’s effort involved in just mentally holding onto material for that long. I forget things, make piles of notes, lose notes, change my mind, etc. — I waste a lot of energy.
So I decided to try writing fast. Not blurting, “bad writing” fast — it still took me about 10 hours to do those 4000 words — but fast as in, if I wrote like this every day for a month, I’d have a first draft of a novel.
I can only write in that steady way when I know what I want to write — what events occur, what the emotional content is. Too often I don’t know what’s happening, simply don’t know what I want, other than perhaps a certain atmosphere. And I can fiddle around for ages trying to create that atmosphere in a scene, and then plot blows the atmosphere apart. That has been happening with Gunpowder Tea. I’ve been finding it very difficult to get plot, the mechanics of the non-real world, emotion and atmosphere all playing nice together. I’m beginning to wonder whether there are certain atmospheric textures that are damn near impossible to create as sustained qualities in a fantasy world — or at least, a fantasy world with magic or supernatural elements — because the fantastical itself destroys them. It’s a bit like having the light filtering through a shoji screen, and going ooh, isn’t that nice and mysterious, and then a dragon charges through the screen. And the dragon is awesome, but the mysterious, suggestive light is gone. Anyway, the piece I was working on yesterday is mainstream, no fantasy whatsoever.
(ETA: Or maybe the problem is that I sometimes get enamoured with the texture of a film — the whole atmosphere created by colours, lighting, music, the ratio of dialogue to silence, and want to recreate it with the written word, and run into difficulties.)
(ETA 2: Of course, the problem just might be my magpie mind. I get the shoji screen, and then I just have to have that horse with a lamp on its head, and put it in the same room!)