Okay - so when I started this blog, I was writing about The Article. Then I started writing about The Book. Now I am going to talk about The Epic. Yes - you read that right. The Epic.
I have never been able to write really long stuff. The longest book I ever wrote was around 75,000 words and that was a Sci-Fi nearly published in the 1990s. Or was it the 1980s? Either way it spent around eighteen months with the publisher - who was then bought out by another publisher just at the wrong time. To coign the very phrase they finally used when rejecting it - "This came within a hair's breadth of being published'. I kid you not. In fact somewhere in my archives I have still got that letter. I think I kept it because I marvelled at their sheer gall! Then - a few years later - I wrote another fairly hefty tome (hefty for me anyway) that ran to around 70,000 words. This was not sci-fi. Inspired by one of the best books ever ever ever written ("The World According To Garp" by John Irving), I decided that I too wanted to write a book about real people. And I did. It crossed all the boundaries and dug deep into the human psyche and I tackled some topics in that novel that I had hitherto (fine word) never attempted before. And it remains to this day probably my best ever piece of work. But I never even tried to find a publisher for it because it would have completely and utterly destroyed me if it had been rejected just once. No. My plan with that book was to wait until I was more established as a 'serious' writer and then just launch it on the world and retire on the proceeds it would be bound to generate. I do not consider myself an unserious writer by any means. And I know I have achieved so much more than I ever expected to - and so much more than many people can even imagine. But actually in the wake of Yucketypoo it felt almost blasphemous to do anything with The Novel. So I didn't.
And - here I am - some twenty-five years on and The Novel (as opposed to The Sci-Fi which never saw the light of day again), is still tucked away in the filing cabinet. I'd like to think it will not rot there forever. In between I have written stories, articles and features anything from 50 words (mini saga published around ten years ago) to 35,000 words (kid's book - never published) with most of my published work being less than 3000 words. And yet. A good few months ago I was struck by a What If moment. I went away with that resonating in the creative ethers of my brain and wrote a few notes - which I promptly lost. But The Idea just would not go away. It kept gnawing away at me, even as I continued to struggle with what to do with The Book. Gnawing and niggling, growing and gaining momentum. It haunted my dreams, occupied every waking moment, took me off into the place my darling husband refers to as Jilly's Space, which is almost trance-like as more and more possibilities occur to me. And suddenly, on Tuesday last week, I actually started writing. One week on I am almost 4000 words in and still scribbling madly.
At this stage I have no idea where it will end up. The thing that I am so excited about, however, is the fact that I am writing again - actually writing. Yes - I know I have been blogging pretty regularly for a year or so and I still keep a journal which I write most days. I have been really busy with the Young Writers, helping them to publish their work. And of course The Article found a home with a publisher (who still has not come back to me to confirm anything yet even though it is weeks since I redrafted and emailed it). And - you've guessed it - I am still procrastinating over The Book. But I am Writing. And it is only when I Write that I feel truly Whole.
My hope is that other people feel that completeness when they write - because it seems wrong not to share it. There is no other feeling on earth that even comes close to that euphoria, creating and writing and living with those characters wherever and whatever they may be. It is as close to real magic as it is possible to get and I am privelaged to have that gift. I have no doubt at all that I will mention The Epic from time to time so watch this space. And maybe my meanderings will inspire you to take up your pen as well?
In the meantime though, just what should I do about The Book...? Answers on a postcard please!