But I’ve been having wonderful fun writing. It’s come so well that I’ve done 36398 words in three days, so I now have the beginnings of the first book in a new series that follows on from Lavender House, even if it isn’t quite the book I was expecting to get.
I know lots and lots of writers have a detailed story plan, and I’m sure it’s a very good thing, but it’s only recently I’ve found out that the technique I use is called “Writing into the dark.” Basically, I start with an image, or an idea. Then I find the characters and put them in the situation with a rough idea of where I’m going and then, if I’m very lucky, they take over and tell their story. And this time they were so keen to be heard that I felt guilty when I had to stop midway through the scene that led to their first kiss and go and sort lunch out! Thankfully, my family are used to the week or so when my mind isn’t really with them and, although they’re too nice and cautious to say so, I think they enjoy the break from being organised and the increased likelihood of pizza and fish and chips.
So now I have my basic story, with lots of bits in brackets saying (research this) and it’ll sit quietly for a month before I go back to it and expand it. And to celebrate and research I headed down to the beach for a long walk along the shore and to look across the bay and generally immerse myself in the place I love and which inspires so many of my stories.
It’s a ten minute drive from home, and at this time of the year, especially on a day that’s cooler than I was hoping (come on spring, I’m bored with being cold!) it’s gloriously quiet. I can walk along by the tideline, picking up shells and looking forward to the day when I can paddle, and then swim. I can hear the seagulls crying overhead and wonder what dirty joke the blackheads gulls are sniggering at and what’s making the herring gulls so sad. I can revel in my escape and in living in such an amazing part of the world, and then I’ll come home and catch up on paperwork and then make some notes about what the characters are planning to do next.
But they’ll have to wait till June to do it because May’s first draft is going to be another Amy Hammond. What’s fascinating me at the moment is the nastiness of social media, and how much easier it seems to be horrible when you’re hiding behind a user name. Why do people hold grudges for so long? Why do they have to try to cancel people they don’t like (which is a dressed up way of saying ‘destroy’.) And do they ever think about the hurt and heartbreak they cause?
Still, this time, Amy and Peter will be on the case. I’m not yet sure what they’ll find but I’m looking forward to keeping them company while they tell me and seeing how all the people at Swansmere are getting on with their lives. Obviously I’m not matchmaking because that would be very naughty, but I do think that while you can be happy on your own, it is nicer to have people to be happy with, whether they’re friends, lovers, or partners.
Till then, today’s picture lets you see what I saw today… And yes, I know how lucky I am to be able to see it. That's Brownsea Island in the distance, and I'm just up the road from Rick Stein's very posh and expensive restaurant.