It’s an old witchy saying although it could just as easily apply to writers. Days were when we guarded our stories like a dragon guards its gold. Now, in a world where we blog our little hearts out, we give a lot more away.
I know I do. A few years ago I would no more share a story I was currently planning than I would my toothbrush. And yet, since I began blogging here – about five years give or take – I’ve shared more & more of not only the process of my writing but the content. It’s something to do with new notions of networking I think. Social media sharing has become massive.
These past two weeks I’ve felt very exposed, albeit in a joyful, just been published again way. The blog tour for Wild Spinning Girls has been a triumph, the reviews gratifying & in some cases mindblowing. And I was featured in the local paper too!
It’s all been about me & my book, which is wonderful & hopefully, the exposure will translate into sales & more reviews.
It’s another ‘famous for fifteen minutes’ thing though, isn’t it? A writer is only as good as her next book? And I’ve been banging on about my fourth, back & forth & undecided, until I’ve made my own head spin. A few weeks ago I was categorical. My next book would be the one about the river. The one I’ve been writing since 2012, on & off. I went back to it while I was in the countdown to WSG coming out, pottering & revising, revising, revising… And then I felt it, like a blow: the loss of what the Welsh call hwyl – a sense of motivational energy that stirs the soul. My soul, was drained because something else was stirring.
Back in January, talking about the River book, I wrote, ‘…why would I abandon over 80k anyway? You only do that if the story has no legs.’
I fear not only have the legs fallen off, so have the wheels. During two conversations with two different people, each of them beautifully & coherently said things that perfectly ‘named’ where I find myself. The first was said by a writer friend who has known this oscillating story from its inception. She said, ‘[this book] is the ghost of the writer you were … she flits in and out between books, tempting and taunting you to take a step back into that time when it was all still ahead of you.’
These words fed seamlessly into the ones uttered by my mentor when we caught up recently & I tried to explain my ‘dilemma’ to her. What do I write next? Stick with ‘River’ or write the one that’s now nagging rather than whispering. In what was almost an echo of my friend, she said, ‘River is the story your other books bounce off.’ And went on to reassure me that nothing is wasted, that putting away the old in order to make room for the new – not least when the hwyl for it is very definitely there – is as much about author instinct as anything else.
There we are then. In July last year, I wrote this: ‘… there’s another one. A new story that excites me so much I can’t stop thinking about it.’ It does so yes, I’m going to write that one. #Book4.
And say very little about it until it feels real… Go underground for a while & trust the muse.