Monday, 17 August 2009

Anxious times

I am in a state of anxiety at the moment for which I am prescribing myself long walks undertaken at marching pace. These are mostly working.

Why the anxiety? Well...

We came home from holiday to a million things that needed doing and which I had been putting off before we went away. Repairs to our kitchen roof, sorting out issues with our internet service provider, getting the boiler seriviced, thinking about my Mum’s 70th birthday… and a ton of other, lesser things. The list seemed to go on and on. Last week saw most of them sorted, at least prospectively (appointments made etc) but there are always new things popping up.

Then there was the awful shock, ten days ago, of a friend of ours being admitted to the Royal Marsden Hospital with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia. He’s just started what will be a 2-year course of treatment.

In a less dramatic vein, this Thursday sees both the first full rehearsal of Ancient Stones, Stories Told, my promenade play for Rochester Cathedral, and The Bassist’s AS level results. Both need to go well or the future is going to look bleak.

But, if I’m honest with myself, none of these things actually account for the gut-churning anxiety that’s plaguing me. All of them are difficult in their various ways but I would cope with them.

No, the anxiety-provoker in chief is, inevitably, The Book. The Black and The White. I’m a couple of weeks off being ready to begin writing. Outlines for the big, ‘set-piece’ scenes are beginning to form in my mind and I am frantically trying to decide where to begin the damn thing. (And don’t say ‘at the beginning’ or I may scream…)

I’m anxious because I’m captivated by the story and I DON’T WANT TO GET IT WRONG. I know it could be good and I don’t want to make mistakes at the outset which will compromise the whole thing. I am more excited by this book than by anything since I began my original draft of Testament which induced a similar state of nervous tension. I’m hoping that’s a good sign. Much as I enjoyed writing some of Not One of Us, it was nothing like this.

But there’s a problem. The more I think about my original structure for the book – the structure I discussed with Will – the more I’m convinced it won’t work. And I have a slightly dramatic solution which is also contributing to the lizards fighting in my intestines.

I need to discuss it with Will before I say anything here, so perhaps I’d just better go and compose an email.

More anon.


Neil said...

Sounds like you and Tim S are experiencing similar things at the moment. If you feel this good--and nervous--about it, Alis, I'm sure it will be great.

Alis said...

Hi Neil - yes, Tim and I do seem to be following a similar trajectory in terms of our writing at the moment, don't we.
I hope you're right about the omens...

Akasha Savage said...

I too am starting to get a bit anxious about my novel, Bathory. Now I am actually reaching the point where I will have a completed MS to send out, I am starting to doubt the quality of my writing.

Still...did anyone tell us this writing lark would be easy and stress free?


Frances Garrood said...

I really feel for you, Alis. But if you love your new novel, as you seem to, I'm sure it will be ok. Good luck with the email to Will - he's usually pretty wise.

Tim Stretton said...

Alis - I wouldn't worry too much about the structure evolving from the one you'd originally conceived. It's all part of the original idea coalescing.

Will is always very helpful and supportive, but no-one knows the idea like you. If you think a different treatment of it works better, I bet you're right.