139,000 crazy words to the good.
I feel my head spin, take a gusty sigh of relief, and think: at last, I have something I can work on.
The first draft is a curious thing. It’s such a mess, and it should be a mess, because perfectionism will kill your writing as stone dead as twenty dead things from Deadburgh.
On the other hand, there is a smashing level of dismay. Could I really have produced such a baggy, saggy, amorphous mass of nonsense? Did I learn nothing?
It’s taken 36 hours for me to see the shining sliver of light. Already I am thinking of the second draft. Ah, yes, I mused, as I cleaned my teeth this morning, I see what I can do with that section. I know, I pondered, as I let the handsome dog out, what that character wants.
There is a huge amount of not knowing, at the beginning. Oh, sure, I’m not such a rube as not to have a beginning, middle and end. I have milestones. I know where I am going. But there is all the surprising stuff in the middle – the sudden swerves in direction, the unheralded character who mysteriously pitches up on page 284, the new theme which unfurls itself in chapter twenty. It’s only when that early draft is done that the skies clear and the seas calm, and you suddenly realise what your damn book is actually about.
Or rather: I realise. (Since I am so sniffy about the Universal We, I must be careful of the Generalised You.)
I walked the mare in hand. Her tender leg is almost healed and we’re just stretching it a bit, so that she get strong and well again. I looked at the wild autumn colours. I had a joke with Stanley the Dog. I went back to HorseBack and did my work there. I watched the bonny Balder Succes skip round Warwick, and had a mighty treble, which cheered me up, since October turned out to be a punting graveyard. My mojo is back, I thought.
I rather madly made some potted shrimps, with my own goofy hands.
Now it will be two weeks of waiting, so I can come back to the thing with a fresh eye. In the meantime, I’ll get cooking on one of the endless secret projects.
But, I think, the crucial point is that I have a thing. It’s a holy muddle, and it shoots off on more tangents that I can shake a stick at, and the pacing is uneven and the tone is uncertain and sometimes it wanders off down cul-de-sacs like a drunken sailor on shore leave. But it exists, and it’s mine, and I’ll whip it into shape if it’s the last thing I do.
What Red and I saw on our morning walk.
Minus six last night, and you can see the lingering frost:
But the light was dazzling:
The good mare stood for at least five minutes, as I snapped away, getting her best side. Of course all her sides are best sides. This sweet, sleepy, happy face makes my heart almost burst with love and joy:
Back in the field, little M the P has gone all furry for winter:
Oh, oh, the handsomeness:
Rather pale, after my marathon, but obviously illuminated by red mare adoration:
Still rather swimmy in the head, so no idea whether any of these words make sense.
Oh, and for the very kind people who proof these posts and send me messages to save me from howlers: Balder Succes really is spelt like that. He’s a French fella. I do have some quite flaky thoughts sometimes, and one of them today was: even if he wins the Arkle, he’ll never trend on Twitter, because half the people will write Succes and half will write Success. It’s the kind of thing I mind about.