A Greek Vintage, ( working title – I have been playing with the idea of ‘Under a Cretan Sky’ as well …) my novel set in Crete, about love, loss and following your heart featuring a burned down vineyard, an unsolved mystery, and a journalist, who after losing everything, is on the search for a new life … is winding its way towards its close – at a slow but steady pace, and it looks like it will actually be a bit longer than I expected. My goal was to finish the book at 50,000 words, but I’m now at around 43,000 (yes that happened!) and it looks like there’s still a lot more to be said, oh well. That’s okay.
I’ve been really having fun with the writing these past few weeks. Especially once I let go of the need for it to be perfect (The HMS Perfect is still hanging about but it’s tethered to the dock for now). I’ve been allowing myself the space and time to play around – really play, and do things I ordinarily wouldn’t, like jumping ahead or back a scene and adding in things that I may actually cut later. It’s quite freeing, like adding paint rivulets to a canvas too see the effect, or using all the crayons in a box to decide which colours you like best.
I think for a long time I was bogged down by the need to put it in a genre, it’s own neat box. It’s got a comedic twist, so that makes it lean towards chick-lit, but the drama is pretty intense so that made me feel that perhaps its should be more dramatic and lose the comedy, or have the drama toned down … and there I bobbed back and forth for a long time. Now I’m mostly over it. Funny moments are funny. Sad ones sad. There’s no reason why it needs to be an either or situation – life is a mixture, right? And anyway that’s what second and third drafts are for.
That’s the real secret I think – letting the story grow organically as it appears and not trying to second guess its every move. It’s like digging out a fossil, in the beginning you don’t really know what you’ve got yet, so you have to be patient and let it unfold. (You’ve got to give a stern talking to that side of your self that’s shouting ‘dinosaur’, ‘sabre-tooth tiger’, Elvis!’)
Stephen King used a fossil analogy about writing the first draft in his fantastic book On Writing, and it’s only now while I’m (hopefully) near the end of writing my first draft that I truly get it, and get why he said you can’t bulldoze it out. I’m not sure I was bulldozing, but I was definitely shouting ‘dinosaur’ a lot.
And now I’m not. What I’m really doing, is enjoying uncovering the fossil – the joy of finding the bones, the rush of discovering some pieces almost perfectly intact, others that need to be delicately prised … oh and the food.
It’s set in Crete, with it’s gorgeous Greek food, and wine and oh-so-beautiful beaches and side walk cafes and tavernas, and mountainous countryside, and wild herbs and vineyards and olive groves, and and and … Even though I’m mostly visiting it in my mind, it’s a rather wonderful place to be spending my time.
Part of that is this blog and documenting the process for now. While it can sometimes feel like this book is taking forever to finish, where I’m my own back seat passenger whinging “Are we there, yet?” I know that it will get there eventually, and there will come a time (oh I pray!) where I’ll be looking back at all this, rather fondly after having finished my fifth or fifteenth ( let’s aim high, right) novel and be glad that I enjoyed the ride.
Are you taking a moment to enjoy the ride too? Or has it just become work? I’d love to hear about it.
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