With Wild Spinning Girls waiting her turn with the woman who makes me a better writer, my thoughts turn to what comes next. My current Book 4 has had an erratic passage. It was first usurped between Ghostbird & Snow Sisters then again by WSG, getting periodically abandoned like an unwanted rag-doll in the process.
I’ve always believed some books aren’t meant to be written. As writers we have to learn this & know when to let go. In the past I’ve had no qualms about discarding stories & stuffing them in a dark drawer, or worse, killing them off completely.
This one though – the one I call RiverBook – simply will not be silenced. Regardless of several long interludes, it’s survived. At one point I was a hair’s breadth from dumping it. The main protagonist – a woman I think I may be slight scared of – was having none of it. She knew what was wrong with ‘the story so far’, but better still, what was right with it. She knew what was missing & what needed chucking.
A while back I did a big rewrite & decided yes, this is the one. I have 75,000 words which is almost a complete manuscript. Be rude not to finish it, frankly. No problem then…
One of the reasons for writing this down is so I can’t easily back-track & abandon the book yet again. And the reason I could be tempted is because there’s another one. A new story that excites me so much I can’t stop thinking about it. An altogether new way of writing, an almost entirely character driven story with virtually no plot, written in first person present…
I know… mad or what?
The plan – for plan I must have – is to potter until the New Moon on Thursday. See which of the word birds offers up the best pitch… They clearly love RiverBook & have stuck with it like a precious egg baby in a nest.
But they have a rival.
Yesterday, out & about, there was a wee spider in my hair. A friend spotted it & grinned when I said to leave it be; it was probably writing stuff. About her… the new one…
The woman who makes me a better writer did her work & now I’ve done mine. At least I hope so. They say a book is never completely finished & I concur. At this stage, pre-copy-edit & proofreading, there’s still space for ‘intervention’ of some kind or another.
Wild Spinning Girls will be published in February 2020. In the meantime dear reader, as you have have been so kind – shown such keen interest in this third book – I’m offering up an extract. It passed muster without comment in the dreaded tracked changes & sets the scene rather nicely.
Smoke-coloured sky stretched for miles. Midafternoon and still at least a hundred miles to go. Instead of stopping at one of the numerous motorway service stations, Ida turned onto a slip road, pulled into a lay-by next to a stone bridge, snacked on bananas, nuts and a chicken wrap she’d picked up in a supermarket before leaving. (Years of not eating, in order to stay thin, meant she’d had to learn not to be afraid of food. She was still working at it.) As she listened to a trickling stream beneath her, Ida tried to work out if it came from Wales or, like her, was trying to find its way back. On the motorway once again, crossing a different bridge, she saw how this one rose in a majestic ripple of slender metal lines. Its elegance was lost on her. Ida saw only bars and their towering vastness stunned her. Croeso i Gymru. Welcome to Wales. She may as well have been driving into Patagonia. Fumbling in her purse for the toll fee, the sense of separation was complete. ‘Sorry, I don’t have the right money.’ The man in the booth reached down to hand her the change. ‘No worries, bach. There you go. Safe journey.’ After a couple of hours the motorway narrowed to dual carriageways and lanes. Towns gave way to villages and eventually to scattered countryside beneath careless skies. As she drove closer to her destination, Ida returned to the mental list she’d been compiling since she’d set off; things she’d need to do once she reached Ty’r Cwmwl. She tried the Welsh name again out loud, tripping over the lack of vowels. ‘Bloody silly language.’ Cloud House it would have to be. And top of the list would be cleaning. The house was bound to be dusty and neglected. As for the contents, she couldn’t imagine wanting to keep anything. The furniture would be older than she was. Possibly older than her father. Ida frowned, but her dismantled memories revealed nothing. She would get essential repairs attended to and sell the house as seen. Pulling onto the side of the road again to check the map on her new phone, Ida squinted at the screen, zooming in. The house still appeared like a dot in the middle of nowhere, a mile from the closest village and another twenty from the nearest town. There was a text from Liz. Are you there yet? x Ida shaded her eyes, watched as lines of edgeless curving land merged into an illusive vanishing point. For a fanciful moment she could believe that reality and myth had become interlaced. Flicking off the phone, she looked up again, for a connection, a moment of recollection. I’m a bit Welsh… It didn’t come and a sense of unease enfolded her. What memories she did have were her mother’s cast-offs. Horrid place … I hated it. Finally, her uncertain memory led her, more by luck than good judgement, to the right road. Too narrow and insignificant to warrant a number, it uncurled through the imprecise light, finally arriving at an open gate flanked by broken, intermittent dry-stone walls. A solid metal sign bolted into a stone upright bore the legend: Ty’r Cwmwl. Twenty-nine years ago, she had been born here. For five years it had been her home. The last time she’d driven down this track she had been barely big enough to see through the back window of her father’s car as it jolted away from the house. Ida had a vague memory of her mother tucking her into her arm, as if she hadn’t wanted her daughter to see what they were leaving behind, and make a memory. She needn’t have worried. Gazing around her now, Ida recalled very little of either the house or her surroundings. Other than the sky, wide and endless and, regardless of the season, always with an edge of winter, nothing was familiar. The marbled, changing glare of it reached for miles. And in each direction, falling away in a palette of washed-out colour, a landscape out of legend. There were no landmarks, only barren moorland and rocky outcrops. Skinny blackthorns with witch finger branches fought the prevailing wind making it hard to believe they could ever grow leaves. Ida blinked, searched her fragmented memories; anything to reassure herself being there was a good idea.