Herding cats

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By Tanya Vessey Blog

Writing chapter six first draft feels like baby steps as I inch through the storyline toward the chapter completion. Each baby step is monumental though, each step is a new action, another happening, a story point that pushes the action forward. I have written parts for this chapter in the past, but they are rough sketches of the action that I’m fleshing out as I go by combining what I have already written with new writing.

The slow pace feels tedious but at the same time writing in the new parts is fun. Characters are unfolding in ways that I hadn’t planned with the birth of new personalities in the midst of the narrative. Along with the characters and the action the protagonist is also changing and growing through points of reflection. To integrate this I’ve covered ground in the story having the protagonist journey through the landscape as they journey into themselves. The writing of these parts took some time with the combining of these two events into one.

As I develop the novel moving through each chapter in turn, I’m finding that I have a clearer picture of not just who and where but when I’m writing about. The time period is coming to life in my mind and I hope also on the page. In writing about a past time my aim isn’t to be accurate but more so representative. My focus is on fiction and story, not historical accuracy, also the period that I’m writing about is ancient history so the information available is often sketchy or absent.

There are some things that I can’t plan, to plan to that extent would make the work feel contrived with no space for things to evolve as they should. With this in mind I’ve resigned myself to the slow pace of chapter six for now. The bottom line is that I’m getting a lot done with new nuances to the story and characters coming from the inconsistent pace.

With past chapters I’ve had some seemingly channelled through the keyboard with record speed, or others that were slow in the writing through and through. This chapter has been different in that I have a very stop-start, sit and think, rewrite, tidy, then do it all again kind of flow going – if that can be called a flow.

The stop and start feel to the whole exercise is difficult to navigate. I keep finding a reason to start later rather than sooner, then stop. Distractions stop me. Really unimportant distractions like: I need a snack, I’ll just check my email, the rubbish needs taking out, I’ll watch that video for research, make a phone call, do the dishes, the list goes on. It’s like herding cats when you are both the cat herder and the cat.

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