The work in progress has been going great guns round here. Up to 50K and last Thursday I wrote 2.8K words alone as the narrative flew.
Then came the inevitable interruption. A trip to Edinburgh to talk at the book festival. Proofs for The Killing II. The story that occupied most of my head a few days ago was rudely ejected to make way for more immediate matters.
I used to worry when this happened. Things seemed to be going so well. What if something so pressing last week has disappeared down the neural pathways by the time I come back to the project?
A word of advice: never, ever be concerned about walking away from a story. If it’s working it won’t just vanish. On the contrary, walking away is good for the creative process. Ideas mature, go down avenues they’d never dare when you were thinking of nothing else but the straight road ahead.
I’ve barely given this tale any thought for four days until this morning. I won’t be working actively on it for another couple of days either until these proofs are out of the way. But an hour ago I suddenly saw a solution to one of the key problems in the text, something that had been bothering me for weeks. A dead simple solution: change someone from dead to missing.
That’s it. That’s what the story and its characters wanted to tell me and I couldn’t hear it until I stepped back from the writing coalface and started to listen to their voices. Books shouldn’t be rushed. If you do that what you gain in immediacy you may well lose in resonance and depth.
By the end of this week I’ll be back to writing this project. The first thing I will do is return to the original text and amend that to match the new narrative change. It won’t require much work either because this is what the story and the characters were trying to tell me all along. I just needed to find the time to notice.