Knitting and Executions

I’m better these days than I used to be, when it comes to writer’s block, but today it came over me at full force. What I realised is that it only ever hits me when I want to write something that really matters to me. Like with Alice. And now, writing the copy for Wifey’s husband. I just figured out why that is. I have always loved writing and have done loads of it over the years – blogs, articles and God only knows how many unfinished novels – but when it’s something I really care about, I occasionally freeze. With Alice, I sometimes clam up because I find it hard to write unless I feel quite sure that whatever comes out is near perfect. And now, with the text for Wifey’s hubby’s website, I feel that way.

Any time I’ve put together text or anything else, I’ve never felt that way – I just do it, no worries at all. Now, though, despite having all the information I need and knowing them both fairly well (well – I know Wifey well and her husband more through her than directly), yet I was really struggling to get it all out, and what I sent over was really just short blurbs for ‘what we do’, ‘why we do it’ and ‘about [Wifey’s hubby]’. Seriously, in total it was, what, a page?! I felt shit sending it over, but at least having written SOMETHING usually means that the rest will flow more easily, so fingers crossed.

Over the past few days I’ve given the editor’s feedback a lot of thought. Karen is a major problem for me now – I may have to kill her off. Not letting her die as part of a new, gruesome story arc, but rather just quietly execute her or at the very least demote her. I’ve found a way of concentrating on thinking Alice through – knitting! I’m making an oversized, multicoloured scarf! I am Scandinavian, after all, which means the warmer months of the year is just one, prolonged torture of scarf withdrawal. So anyway, whilst knitting away, I’ve been thinking it all over – if anyone looked in through the window and saw me sitting here on the sofa, they’d probably assume I’m a lazy housewife with no purpose in life, but this is a crucial part of the writing process. Allowing new ideas, changes and (in Karen’s case) the occasional executions to percolate is absolutely pivotal.

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In the summer when we were staying at Falla, I spent what must have been hours quietly taking it all in to be able to use it for Alice – the larder that always smells of berries, the scent of hay (and sometimes cow dung) in the air, what the dewy grass feels like under my bare feet early in the morning, the shape of the mountain behind the house and the jagged shape of the tree tops in the horizon behind which the sun finally sets closer to midnight when it’s the month of July. All of that stuff – had I not taken the time to really let all these impressions take root in my mind – I wouldn’t have been able to vividly convey if I hadn’t allowed for it all to simmer for a while.

Same thing now. I’m working out if there’s a way of saving Karen from such a grim fate, but the more I think about it, the more I am inclined to give her more of a bit part as the Family Liaison Officer she is (she can be the bearer of bad news!) and give her more involved scenes and parts to Britt. I actually wrote Karen with more affection than I have for Britt, who is rather boring and cold, but Britt cannot be cut out. If I’m totally brutal, Karen serves less of a purpose and Alice’s life is a little too crowded – too many characters taking up too much room – so she may have to take a backseat.

Another massive-ish change I’m figuring out is for John. I think I’ll leave his apartment as his, that he’s owned it since the 70s, but has rented it out and he’s only moving there to live now. Otherwise it’ll be such a headache to try to explain to the reader how Alice and John have been neighbours for 11 years and never spoken to each other before, then suddenly they become BFFs. That makes no sense whatsoever, and Alice is too grounded and intelligent to act in an irrational manner like that. And as the editor pointed out, echoing B, when he winks at Alice it’s creepy. Either I need to better show how it’s a natural mannerism for John and not done with any sexual undertones, or rewrite it completely.

All good! My scarf is steadily emerging and so is the rest of Alice with the adjustments I need to make. I’m so excited about it all! And I’m also excited about this evening – date night! I’ve booked tickets for a pub here in Chiswick that has a comedy club, and tonight it’s a show called ‘Four Kiwis Walk Into A Bar’. B doesn’t know what we’re doing, but I hope it’ll be good and he’ll love it. He’s the best person on the planet and deserves to be always smiling – I hope this will trigger lots of laughter.

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