For me, the writing of this second novel has been like walking through a cloud in many ways and trusting that an initial idea will grow into a storyline. I have the tendency to go off in many directions and so reining a story in to a form is a big part of my process. I started off with this novel with the setting and time in history. Then I placed the characters in the setting. It’s like constructing a play and I think that idea has really helped me. Recently, Hilary Mantel said that she loved producing plays. I can relate to that. It’s a fun, magical experience, bringing what’s in your mind alive for another person to experience.
For me, writing is a continual learning process. I don’t think I will ever feel like an expert at it and perhaps that’s not a bad thing as it keeps me wanting to learn from other writers and keeps me continually on my toes. Sometimes when I write myself, I actually surprise myself with what I’ve written. That’s why more and more I’m realising that just putting pen to paper or opening my laptop is the most important step. And when I write and I’ve come to accept that at these stages, it’s not important to judge how ‘good’ the writing is. The more words I write, the easier it becomes, like an engine warming up. I love those moments when my mind begins to work on the story by itself and ideas start to flow and scenes and dialogue tumble out of me. It’s as if a momentum builds up and it starts to write itself. That’s why I carry a notebook wherever I go, because it’s often when I’m walking or sitting in a busy place that that flow gets going.