Stephen King, On Writing
These words are true of a writer resuming writing after a long break as much as of an artist facing a blank canvas. For me, the book writing process began 18 months after the last book - at a time when I was visiting Cyprus. No more excuses about 'to do' lists or other distractions such as socialising. No planning of meals, food shopping and cooking. I just had to turn up after my swim in the morning and write. I didn't have to write for blocks of 5 or 6 hours, after all I was on holiday! About 90 minutes every morning would suffice.
I was writing longhand rather than using a computer. At first, my thoughts flew willy-nilly on to the blank page. I'm happy to believe Stephen King or J.K. Rowling when they say that the first draft is rubbish. Therefore scribbling was fine, as recording racing thoughts required speed, and my typing wasn't fast. I could silence my over-the-shoulder editor. Later, when the draft manuscript was posted on a computer, I would have the chance of re-editing what I had written.
Of course the rest of the day was filled with watching the world go by while I had my coffee in a cafe, talking to people I 'd met in Paphos, exploring, visiting world heritage sites, doing all the fun things one does on holiday, and I could feel sanctimonious about my date with early morning manuscript writing! Life was fun. Writing was fun.
Experiencing a new culture always shifts my perspectives on life and changes me on a personal level. I'm inspired by the different tempo of the music, tasting the exotic flavours of the food, and feasting my eyes on the new environment. I find new solutions to old problems. Exploring is fun. The entire process of writing is stimulated by the word fun. Writing was fun.
When I arrived in Cyprus, I'd do some meditation and then some journal writing after my swim in the morning, and thought about starting my book. By the time I left Cyprus, my journal writing had become my meditation, and I was writing my journal, a blog and the book almost simultaneously. The shift in my writing was welcome.
The areas away from tourist spots were beginning to work their magic.. The scribbles became fewer, the thoughts flowed fluidly, and the pen skimmed across the smooth surface of the paper. Of course, living in foreign cultures, and travel feature strongly in all my books.
Now that I'm back home in Cornwall, the "busyness" of the "to do" things in life is taking over, but I hope to recapture the creativity I developed on my holiday. Let's see if I can believe Stephen King when he writes:
'. . . the first draft - even - a long one - should take no longer than three months . . .'
Stephen King, On Writing