There's something so exciting about a new start.
I spend a disproportionate amount of time picking out new jotters and journals.
The blank page is so important to me - it's a place where I can scribble down words, phrases, create characters and draw out timelines of my stories.
In some ways that's the easy part. Creating and dreaming is the liberating part of writing. But committing to a project is the difficult part. For me here are my two fears when I stare at a blank page
1. This is a not a crazy merry-go-round although some days it feels like it is!
I'm not exaggerating when I say I have outlines for at least 20 books in my study and some more in my head! All of them excite me in different ways. But there in is the challenge - I can happily bounce between projects and then it feels like I am going round in circles.
The challenge for me is to pick the correct project.
When I started writing and then helping others write I came across the following quote, 'wisdom is proved right by what results from it.' When I scribble down the thoughts on a new character or get carried away by the prospect of a new book this phrase always pops back into my mind. It reassures me that although this can feel like a crazy merry-go-round, the truth is that writing a book is nothing like it. I have found a new way that helps. I liken writing a book to going on a hike. It's exciting, gruelling, sometimes dangerous and even though you have a map to help you along your way, the map is a guide that helps you to experience moments of wonder.
2. Committing to the book
My default is to create, dream, outline and then shove it into the back of the cupboard! In doing so some projects die a death and some mature over time. But through Half Irish I learned so much about committing to the project. That is why point 1 is so important. I'm at the stage where I have developed full characters and outlines for three books that I think are really good. And they are all so different. On Monday I spent about 2 hours researching the Latvian dairy industry in the 1920's - 1930's. In August I spent a lot of time researching, contacting people and discovering the history (or non-history as it turns out) of Swedish-Northern Irish relations. And I have also been researching Scottish-Irish heritage and exploring the Highlands of Scotland. As I commit to write the next book, with no lucrative advance or promise of success - I commit to the project in hope. I hope you like it! I hope you read it and I hope I enjoy the journey!
So I'm going to go back to my study and flip my 3 sided coin, or 20 sided coin, and see what book I write next - because honestly - they will all take me on a journey!
PS Two social media highlights -
I was delighted to get a couple of mentions on BBC Radio Ulster during the week - you can listen again to the fantastic Kerry McLean here and in August I filmed for NVTV's Novel Ideas - you can watch the show here