An occasional series looking at the genesis of a story, from the initial spark of inspiration, through conceptual development, the writing process, and what happens next. You'll find related writing tips at the end. In this blog, I’ll be looking at Blumelena, my Bridport Prize-shortlisted short story.
One of the questions you never quite manage to answer to anyone’s satisfaction, in my experience, is the question of where the ideas come from. Generally speaking, mine just turn up when they turn up, generally prompted by nothing at all, and the onus is on me to find something to scribble on before they disappear . Blumelena was no different.
In my free ebook short story collection, To The End of the World and Back, I talk about how the concept announced itself, more or less fully-formed, as I was walking to work one morning. It was a decent stretch - around half an hour from home - and there’s definitely something about walking, for me, that connects with the creative part of my brain. If I’m stuck with a piece of writing, I will tend to go for a walk and let the rhythm of my feet work out the narrative knots as I go. In this case, though, I wasn’t looking for inspiration, but inspiration found me just the same.
So, the 2020s have been… less than optimal so far, really. (As a dystopian sci-fi author who released a pandemic novel in April 2020, it’s been quite the ride.) I’m going to start with my usual injunction to please be kind to yourself, first and foremost, in 2022, as I hope you’ve been kind to yourself throughout the past number of years, whether or not you’ve emerged from lockdown having completed all those writing projects you’ve been planning. Remember that the world is suffering a collective trauma right now, which doesn’t play well with creativity. So whether you’ve a brace of novels under your belt or you’ve been stuck on page 2 for the past eighteen months, please remember to celebrate any and all writing that you’ve achieved — because look at the circumstances under which that writing has been done.
With that said, if you’re looking for ways to encourage your word count to soar this year, here are a few things you could try.
Solidarity, word-count chasers: November is YOUR month. If you’re taking part in National Novel Writing Month this year, I wish you the very best of luck. I know writers whose novels have happened as a direct result of the accountability NaNoWriMo affords. (I also know writers for whom the format has the opposite effect, by the way, so, as ever with writing processes, there are no absolutes. If you’re not taking part, or if NaNo hasn’t worked for you in the past, please know that it’s not my thing either and keep looking for the process that suits your creative flow.)
Blog updates on the first of every month.