Change of rhythm

I’ve been working on several writing ideas, apart from writing here; I have been working creatively on a new novel, another in my Radwinter series, and I have also been editing my next e-book to be published, ‘Lucky Portbraddon’. The latter is an account of a year in the lives of the Portbraddon family, six very different cousins who are affected in different ways by the death of their grandmother. Although it is written from their point of view, it is also seen from that of an outsider, a woman who becomes involved in their lives after saving one of them from drowning in an icy river, and then finding the child of another lost in a snowy wood.

Because it is really the story of  many characters (five of the cousins, and their wives, one of the sons, the woman and her ex-husband) it became a very long story, and was written in a way I hadn’t tried before, with a variety of view points. Also, as usual, in my first draft, I over-wrote, and, as I’ve mentioned before, I tend to write ten words for every one I need, and have word for word conversations, which might be what I ‘hear’ in my head but is awfully tedious for the reader! (Maybe I should write a play!) Since I wrote it, I have written other stories with multiple points of view, but this was the first when I properly tried to work in this way.

However… as I have been editing it, I have noticed aspects of it which are not so apparent in my other work. It is not just a different type of story – a family saga rather than a mystery, but I wrote it in a completely different style, with a completely different structure and rhythm of language.

I know I often still have long sentences, with many clauses, but this was at a whole different level of long sentence! I chose obscure and unusual words and sometimes strange structures, and the style seemed jerky somehow. Jerky isn’t the best word to describe it, but I think it reflects the fact that when I originally wrote my Portbraddon story, I was working and had children at home and had to squeeze my writing into odd corners of the day and usually night. I was often tired, often not properly focussed, often had to force my ideas out of my head and write them down. I used to write in odd spare moments at work, on scraps of paper and transcribe them later and I used the site to keep me going; using 750 words was good, it ‘made’ me write, but retrieving what I wrote became a problem in itself.

So, the actual physical and practical constraints probably affected the way I was writing, but also trying to write from different characters perspectives, and having their own ‘voice’. When I write, I never have a clear idea where I am going or what’s going to happen (which makes it so exciting!) and characters change and develop, as if independently, as I am writing. Sometimes new characters arrive unexpectedly and become major players. This happened in my other novel, ‘The Stalking of Rosa Czekov’ when a man just invited to make up the numbers at a dinner party became one of the main and most powerful ‘people’, not only in the book, but in my imagination. Similarly, the surly son of one of the Portbraddons suddenly came to life as I wrote about him, and he too took on a major role in the events and the dramatic conclusion.

However… above all of that, is the fact that I actually write differently now. I have always written, as I have described, but now I am able to write from the moment I get up (I am still in my nightie and dressing gown as I write this) throughout the day, and late into the night – there is often a plaintive cry in our house in  the wee small hours, from my husband ‘Lois, are you coming to bed at all?‘ And I have practised, and practised and practised and do practice, what someone called ‘the nuts and bolts of the craft’ – I teach it, I write about it, I write.

So it is no wonder that the manuscript I’m editing seems different, and almost to be written by a different person; I was a different person, I am a different person. I think putting aside the style, the language, and, dare I say, its ‘pretensions’, the main change is the rhythm. My literally writing rhythm is different, and so is the rhythm of what I write.

If you haven’t read my Rosa Czekov story, here is a link:

… and if you haven’t read my Radwinter stories, or my other novels, here is a link for them:

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