So I haven’t done much more work on Sarah Grace since my last post, which is a shame.
From here on in, I think my best thing is to do as many wise writers advise and just write something every day. I know Karen and Kathleen try to write 100 words a day as a means of keeping the ink wet even if they don’t have time to write more.
Actually I should clarify the goal: write 100 words of fiction every day. I write plenty of words each day, in my transcribing work, in a non-fiction ghost writing project I’m currently working on, even in the rare blog post. But that’s different to stepping in to the lives of characters and trying to build worlds.
(Side note: Jen and I decided that ghost writing sounds much more exciting and fanciful than actual writing. I feel like I need to have a special costume. And powers.)
That’s part of the problem having a job where you have to produce creative output for others; there’s often not much left in the well for yourself. My energy is a finite resource and although I like to think I can still pull all-nighters like I used to do in my 20s, the truth is, I haven’t been able to do that for some time. Although I know spending time on my own writing is not an indulgence and you have to carve out the time if you want to take it seriously, at the moment my paid work just has to take priority. I have Sarah Grace and the other characters I’ve met so far swirling around in my head, but when it comes to pinning them down on the page they are standing there, mutely staring at me. I don’t know what they are meant to be doing. I don’t know what they want to say. I often just can’t find the words.
But the just-over-10k words I have found this November are a gift. I have met some interesting characters, set sail on a convict ship, glimpsed a doomed affair in an apple orchard, peered into life in the Launceston Female Factory that was brutal but somehow better than the lives many of these women had left in Britain. These little vignettes haven’t coalesced into anything resembling a coherent narrative yet, but that’s okay. They’ve been an entry into a world and a story that I will continue to uncover, like an archaeologist brushing dirt away with a tiny, tiny brush. 100 words at a time.