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Island Life, Word Birds & Process

‘…It could be myself telling them to myself or it could be these murmurs that come out of the earth. The earth so old and haunted, so hungry and replete. It talks. Things past and things yet to be.’ *

The space in between finishing a book & beginning another is filled with confusion. The non-writer perhaps imagines euphoria laced with a self-satisfied grin of smug. I’ll concede a fleeting sense of relief. It’s done. You’ve done it (again, if you have) & jolly well done. Have all the chocolate & a vat of wine; abandon the pyjamas & see to the pile of ironing in your bedroom resembling an art installation.

The truth is closer to panic. Even after several (sev.er.al.) rounds of editing, a reasonably competent draft is only the beginning. The editing we do for ourselves is just that. Ours. It’s subjective & highly likely to be Not Good Enough. The manuscript must now line up in readiness to be perused by The Real Editor.

This space is called Waiting. Cue gibbering, a sense of doom & the utter conviction that you are pants. (The small, hopeful voice lurking in the corner, whispering ‘It’s really not that bad, you know’ is a fool & a trickster.)

There is only one remedy. Crack on & write another.

And hereby hangs my dilemma. My plan was to return to the now mythical manuscript known as The Next Book. It’s been the next book twice now. Working title RiverBook, I began it before Ghostbird was accepted & carried on writing it between Ghostbird & Snow Sisters. Abandoned it in fact to write Snow Sisters. And then again to write the one I’ve just finished. Now there’s a new story wearing down my pencils, insisting I write it. (I’m making notes in my head as I type this, for goodness sake.)

RiverBook feels like the past & yet I still love it. It has an older woman main protagonist & we need more of them. It references my (very sideways) take on the selkie myth. It’s a completed first draft. I have to make a decision, see which word birds whisper the loudest.

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Onward & sideways…

*Edna O’Brien
~ House of splendid Isolation

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