Not Seeing the Wood for the Trees (Cecilia Peartree)

Because of all the endings mentioned in my January 2021  post here, I found myself wondering what to do next, having decided not to write anything in my very long mystery series at least until the current UK lockdown had finished, or around Easter, whichever comes first. I do have November's National Novel Writing Month novel draft all ready to edit, but I thought perhaps it would benefit from being left for a bit longer than usual.
A path through the Black Wood of Rannoch

Early in January I wrote a quick short story suggested by someone on Twitter, just to fill the gap, and then I looked around for something else to work on. I browsed through some previous efforts and remembered I had a whole novel lying around that I had written years ago, called 'The Tree Museum'. It had never quite fitted any genre but when I had sent it for a professional critique part of the advice that came back was that it might make a good murder mystery if only it had a murder and/or a mystery in it! Well, I was just in the mood for that kind of challenge, so I dug it out of my archives and set to work on it. 
Deep in the Black Wood of Rannoch

Thinking of a possible murder to add to it wasn't the worst part. I even found a character who looked like a potential killer. But hacking my way through the tangled undergrowth of detail has been almost too much for me. I've had to delete a character completely because I realised I had eventually recycled him into a recurring character in my long-running mystery series, and I've got rid of acres of back-story that is no longer relevant. It's actually quite unusual for me to delete much during my edit as I am quite a concise writer and more usually add in extra during the edit, but I've removed at least 6,000 words so far, and there may be more to be pruned before I've finished. I suppose this is an example of a writer being like a sculptor working on a chunk of marble and chipping away the bits they don't need until they're left with a finished work that expresses what they really wanted to say. Or perhaps, in keeping with the theme, the writer as landscape gardener clipping an unkempt bush into the shape of an ostrich or a pineapple or something.
Not sure yet whether this novel will turn into an ostrich or a pineapple.

Comments

Eden Baylee said…
Great post Cecilia! I hope you can make ostrich or pineapple of your current novel. It sounds like you've edited quite a bit, but that's all good. Hopefully what remains will be a much stronger story for it.

eden
Umberto Tosi said…
Most compelling post, Cecilia. I know the feeling, being in the final stages of writing a mystery myself. It's hard to tell the forest from the trees, and find the fine line between what's just right and gilding the lily. Worst of all, I hate the uncertainly of being between projects. I say genres were meant to be stretched, myself. Good luck with your projects!
Thanks very much, Eden and Umberto. Yes, I can never quite work out what to do with myself just after finishing something. It's a sort of restlessness, because I still feel as if I shoukd be writing something.
Peter Leyland said…
Loved the opening tree picture here Cecilia and is that a reference to Joni Mitchell with the early novel? Best wishes.

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