Island Life, Word Birds & Process
Although I like authors who reinvent themselves, I’m partial to familiarity too. Publishers, agents & editors tend to like ‘more of the same’ & in my experience, readers lap it up. This is not to say a writer shouldn’t stretch herself. ‘RiverBook’ – the story I thought was going to be a follow-up to Ghostbird – has no ghost. It has a much older main protagonist too. I first abandoned it to write Snow Sisters – which came out of left field insisting ghost stories (& sister stories) are what I write.
With this book accepted for publication, the one-hit wonder is on the road to becoming a two-trick pony. And what larks that evokes! I’m a book-writer now & no mistake. I need new shoes at the very least!
While Snow Sisters waits patiently in the copy-edit queue, I have to write something. It made sense to reacquaint myself with ‘River’ which I did, only to be ambushed yet again by another ghost. Once more, poor ‘River’ has been usurped (there’s no other word for it) by a sneaky interloper dragging a spook behind her…
If the cap fits we are told, wear it. And so I shall. Once again my cap is made from mist & secrets & stretches of endless Welsh sky. It’s decorated with raven feathers & when I set it aside, I swear it whispers fragments of words which can only be the voice of a ghost…
Currently, it’s a muddle; the usual random scribbles but as I place them on the page, something more solid begins to emerge.
Naturally, there is a level of apprehension attached to writing ‘more of the same’ but I comfort myself with the thought that it’s good enough for some of my literary sheroes. And I have no particular desire to take a different direction. I have no need to reinvent myself – at this stage I’m barely invented! I know my place if you like & it suits. In the end, it will be down to my reader. If Snow Sisters suits then why not write another ghost story? Why not set another book in my beloved Welsh hinterland among the bones of dragons, conjuring spells and listening for the voice of a ghost?
And who knows, perhaps ‘RiverBook’ will one day make it out of the shallows. She has four drafts to her name & the tenacity of a terrier.
How are we to account for the strange human craving for the pleasure of feeling afraid which is so much involved in our love of ghost stories?
~ Virginia Woolf