I'm covered in flour - it would take too long to explain...

Wednesday, 12 February 2014

The airship of the mind.

How do you see your writing process? No, I don’t mean in terms of ‘it’s my life’ or ‘when I write I do my research first’ sort of thing. I mean if you were to visualise your self and the thinking and editing you do, what would that look like?
This is what I see. 

When I write, I build this huge machine. It looks something like a steam driven chariot with a lot of type-writer/air ship/fighter plane in the mix. There’s certainly a seat, possibly a cockpit, definitely an engine which either purrs like a sports car or wheezes like a lawn mower. There’s a great number of levers and pulleys and pedals ones has to push to get it to do anything, and often the same sequence of moves – pull red lever, stamp on third brake, flick first five switches on the left – results in a different action each time. It’s constantly springing oil leaks, bleaches steam or shedding vital parts, I’m forever having to stamp on one of the fifty seven brakes and leap from the cockpit, dangling at impossible angles with complicated tool to make fine adjustments in the teeth of a gale. Other times we hit smooth road, and for a brief, wonderful time we cruise along and the miles flick past, only to discover I’ve taken a wrong turn and have to reverse. Then the big end goes.

But slowly, bit by bit, it wheezes less, the rumbling, burbling engine is stripped and oiled and starts to tick over; the paintwork is primed and ready and the wings take shape. One day I shall be able to don my goggles, lock down the windshield and build up enough speed to take off into the wide, blue yonder. But not yet, there’s a suspicious ticking noise in the left compression chamber.

My first published novel 'My crooked little sister' a dark and twisty thriller set in the swamps around New Orleans, is out now published by Not So Noble Books - if you'd like to see how well that particular creation flies.


  1. Love it!
    My writing - and it's not because of the current watery situation in the UK - is like water. It starts as an idea bubbling up from the ground, grows into a stream, a river. Takes a meandering route sometimes, flows straight and fast through a gorge at others, bits dribble away and sink into the ground without trace. Occassionally I have to shore up the banks as it's impossible to contain at times, but the majority of it ends up in the ocean, where I stand on a cliff looking at it and going 'wow!'

  2. Lovely analogies, and wish I had something comparable to share. *Goes off to think about it*

  3. My current book project has taken several shapes in my mind. At first it had a very solid, nearly brick-like construction, then I started seeing a rounder form... I was conflicted for a while until I figured out how to balance both ideas and match the tone. Ah - it's kinda hard to explain, but I can see/feel it in my mind!

  4. I love the analogy! To me writing may be the ocean?! :/