Swamped by Choices (Cecilia Peartree)

 Today (I'm writing this on the 29th of November), I realised it was almost December. It shouldn't have come as a surprise, considering that quite a lot of social media friends and some city centres started putting up their decorations a few weeks ago, but as usual I've been writing my November novel for NaNoWriMo and lost track of time. I had even forgotten until today to write down my plan for November. It was only when I got out the notebook I keep my writing plans in to write my December plan that I found there was nothing for November. I think what caused this oversight was that, quite unusually for me, I hadn't been able to decide what to write for NaNoWriMo until the end of October. This was obvious when I looked back at October's plan, in which I had written, as a kind of second priority for that month:  'Consider options for NaNo - Max Falconer 4? Calico Cat development? Complete Heiresses 3 - or is it really Brighton Heirs 5?'

As November loomed ever closer, I thought I'd better at least decide which of these to focus on, although in fact there were also two other contenders, which were the Victorian alternative history story for which I'd already written a prologue as a short story, and my long-lost epic novel of the English Civil War which I keep meaning to resurrect. Either of these options, however, would have needed more historical research than I was prepared to do at that point - or ever? - so I discarded (or postponed) them.

Max Falconer 4 would have been the fourth novel in a mystery series about a museum curator based in Edinburgh, and I do have a vague idea of a theme for it, but one of the characters seems to have lost her momentum and I couldn't make up my mind what to do about that.

The novel formerly known as 'Heiresses 3' is particularly tricky as I abandoned it at about 40,000 words earlier in the year. On reviewing it during October I'd found it really belonged in a different mini-series called 'Brighton Heirs', and this might well have been my reason for abandoning it, although I hadn't worked that out at the time. I just had the feeling there was something wrong.

That left me with the enigmatically named 'Calico Cat development', something which would use some of the characters I had created for rather a light-hearted short murder mystery in the summer. As it happened, once I started plotting during the few days I had left before November came along, the novel took a slightly darker turn than the short story had. I wasn't at all sure I would be physically capable of reaching the NaNoWriMo goal of 50,000 words in the time but I have sailed through at a rate of about 2,000 words a day after all, and am even now writing the denouement. One big advantage of having chosen this one to write is that the settings are mostly real and quite close to where we live, so I don't have to invent too much background. Some of the action takes place around Cramond, where the River Almond flows out into the Firth of Forth. There's a very old harbour where a Roman statue was once found in the water by the ferryman, a boating club, a Roman fort which was a base from which supplies were sent to troops manning the Antonine Wall, and a causeway that leads to an island. It might almost have been the setting for a Famous Five book, and indeed my sons and I and the dog used to pretend we were the Famous Five sometimes when we walked across to the island at low tide.

The mouth of the River Almond
Reaching Cramond Island

I've now written a retrospective plan for November in my notebook, as I don't like to leave a gap - it might look as if I hadn't done anything, whereas in fact November has been so hectic for writing and other reasons that by last weekend I was almost on the point of collapse. I've since recovered thanks to intensive rest and chocolate.


Umberto Tosi said…
Thanks for another candid look at your creative process. It helps me get over the lesson I never learn -- that even the best writers struggle. Best of luck with your latest projects.
Thank you Umberto - at least it doesn't seem that I will run out of ideas any time soon.

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