Monday, 25 April 2011

The Final Countdown

I’m currently trying to whiten my teeth.
I’ve got a gum guard in my mouth laced with gel.
After this, I might plunge my feet into scalding water in an attempt to melt a dead layer of skin.
Yes, it can only be: The Final Countdown.
At 1pm on Saturday 7th of May, my father will be walking me down the aisle.
This weekend I brought home my wedding dress in a beautiful patterned box.
The nerves arrived soon after.
Last night I was awake for ages buzzing with nervous energy.
I tossed and turned and couldn’t even focus on one particular disaster.
My wedding disaster dreams are quite traditional I’m afraid.
The recurring ones include:
· Forgotten rings (specifically, forgotten in wrong country)
· Red wine spillage all down my dress (before I’ve even sat down)
· No one singing along to the hymns (eerie quiet)
· Food poisoning (cutting the day very short)
That last one is a recent development and the result of thinking too much.
The wedding is going to be in Spain so we have to be ready a week in advance.
Family will be arriving in the days running up to the wedding from England, Spain and Colombia.
The Fiancé has told me not to worry about anyone but I’ll feel terrible if we lose a relative at a tourist attraction or someone gets pick-pocketed in Las Ramblas.
I’m imagining head counts and loudspeakers.
In general, I’m probably imagining too much.
Oh, I’ve just thought of another disaster!
Dodgy tan lines!
I’ll just pop my feet in some scalding water and think about that for a minute.

Tuesday, 5 April 2011

Lost the Plot

To my horror, my plot is turning to sand and falling through my fingers.
I need water to thicken it so I can make my castle.
But I appear to be in a desert surrounded by sand and wind and bad ideas.
The way I’m panicking it may as well be my own life falling apart.
I’m getting married next month which arouses little anxiety in comparison.
At least in my own life I’ve got the hero sorted!
Panicking is not going to help though and neither is a shot of something strong.
I need to calm down so I can see clearly.
I turn to a creative writing course book* for guidance and start to read the section on plotting.
It's not long before I read about my own first draft which is ‘shapeless’ and ‘fails to meet with {my} intentions.’
Apparently this is where 'many writers hang up their pens and give up’.
But I’m not going to do that.
I’ve grown to believe in my characters. My problem is I just don’t bloody know what to do with them.
I continue to read.
Joseph Heller took ten years to write Catch 22.
I’m not sure if that’s supposed to comfort me.
I can’t bear the thought of anything taking ten years. I’m from the facebook generation where every creation and reaction has to happen NOW!
Basically I’m looking for an immediate solution to my plot problem.
I’m looking for the secret.
Reading the guide calms me down.
It dawns on me that I should be telling a story, not writing a novel.
The thought takes a hold on me.
I think I see a camel. It might be a mirage but I’m excited enough to stand up and wave at it.
‘Plot is for readers more than writers,’ author Val Taylor writes. ‘Reader’s ask, ‘what happens?’ For a writer the question can only be answered when the novel is finished.’
Which means I'll know where I’m going when I get there.

*The Creative Writing Coursebook edited by Julia Bell and Paul Magrs

Photograph by Elizabeth Hacker