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.
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.
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.
|A path through the Black Wood of Rannoch|
|Deep in the Black Wood of Rannoch|
Not sure yet whether this novel will turn into an ostrich or a pineapple.