Surrendering to the words

I’m writing a novel. At least, I think I am. I hadn’t planned to.

I’m all about short form in what I write, and much of what I read too. Children’s books (picture books in particular), short stories of various kinds. Long essays, long blog posts – all add up to something similar.

Long enough to develop an idea. Short enough to make it bite.

So I haven’t ever really thought I had a novel in me. I guess I hope I have a few different picture books, a range of short stories, maybe enough for a compilation or two. Maybe some words left over for poems – another short form I like.

Every now and then, a phrase comes into my mind, and I try and follow it. Find out what will happen next. It’s all about keeping the fun, and not about forcing myself to sit and write.

That’s how Santa has not been good came about – thinking about the oft-heard phrase (at least in Scotland) ‘Has Santa been good to you?’, turning it round, and seeing where the ideas went.

So a couple of times this year, I’ve heard a phrase, and gone wandering with it. I wrote what did turn out to be a science fiction short story, last month.

(I put a bit of it here if you want a look. I’m still a bit nervous about publishing creative writing online – not quite sure what will happen to it next.)

So earlier this week, I followed another phrase. It turned into another science fiction story. This time, when I got to the end of the piece, it only felt like the first chapter.

So I kept writing. Right now, there are three and a half chapters, a whole load of back story to be worked out, and there seems to be plenty more to come.

Out of the backstory, a little more narrative is emerging. I might need to chop it up a bit, rework what fits where. I’m inventing vaguely futuristic terminology; I like that feeling.

Someone is breaking into an underwater building, and at the moment, I have no idea what will happen when she finds what she is looking for.

I could do with her particular lighting devices to help me through the murk. But I don’t mind too much. I’m swimming too.

I’m all about short form writing. Blogs are great for that. My one moment of sporting glory was in a sprint relay race. I don’t have the physique for long distance.

But swimming a little further, some days more, some days less – that I can do. Maybe I can borrow my character’s flippers and see how far I can go on a tank of writing oxygen.

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