From Project B to Project A

7 Apr

As those who’ve read this blog from time to time will be aware, for the past eighteen months, I’ve been working on a novel that is now around 80,000 words in length. For three or four months before that, I was working on another manuscript with a Cold War setting, a sequel of sorts to my previous work. I called this my twin-pronged approach. The idea was that when Project A ran out of steam, I could switch to Project B with renewed enthusiasm and a rested eye. In recent weeks, I’d started to feel that I’d maybe reached that point.

So this week I’ve begun to revisit that long sidelined project. The sections that I’d already worked on are far more complete than I’d remembered. It’s an idea that I first thought about some six years ago, so I’ve had plenty of time to mull it over. The structure and cast are very much in place. I talked about the writing process that I employ in my previous post. In essence, I work as some sculptors do. Just as the sculptor might begin with a wire armature, so I create a narrative skeleton first of all. The artist will then flesh out his figure in clay while I drop passages into my framework.  In theory, all of this ought to make it easier to return to after such an extended break. Hopefully, it won’t turn out to be a Frankenstein’s Monster, requiring 240 volts through its chest to shock it back to life, an Odbod that walks and talks but whose constituent parts have quite clearly been stitched together. Time will tell…

Inside the writing den - somebody really needs to tidy up in there...

Inside the writing den – somebody really needs to tidy up in there…

I’m off to the writing den with my two little horrors in tow. We shall see how much writing I actually manage to get done… In the meantime, here’s a little snippet from Work-in-Progress No. 2.

Vales. Although a native of the Wednesfordshire Ledge, Patrick Stevenson had become familiar with the hills further to the north, with the Pennines and the Cheviots. Low flying practice generally involved swooping down through the steep-sided valleys of those hill ranges, terrifying villagers and their sheep. The navigator’s view of the countryside was pretty restricted in the rear of the bomber but he’d visited that part of the country before. One school holiday, his mother, grandfather and he had spent a couple of weeks during August in a rented cottage in a hamlet in Northumberland.  The boy had been fascinated by the shadows of the clouds as they scudded overhead, throwing fantastic shapes across the pastures that climbed the hillside on the opposite side of the valley. And one day, toward the end of the fortnight, he’d seen a spectacular sight that made a great impression upon him, the memory of which he’d found coming back to him from time to time ever since. As he’d wandered in search of bugs between one sloping field and the next, three mute swans had come flying along the valley toward him. Although he’d often seen the birds on the river at Wednesford, he’d never viewed them in the air before. On the ground, they looked far too big and awkward to achieve flight. And yet they did so with an effortless dignity, their snake’s heads and necks held out straight, the massive wings behind beating the air with graceful strokes. As the birds passed directly overhead, he’d been able to hear the deep thrum of their wings. He’d stood transfixed until they’d become three distant white specks a mile or so further along the valley, and then he’d been left with an overwhelming sense of melancholy that he’d been at a loss to explain. 

All text and images © PSR 2104


4 Responses to “From Project B to Project A”

  1. Mari Biella April 7, 2014 at 12:50 pm #

    Interesting post, Paul, and I enjoyed the snippet from your WIP. This is the sequel to ‘Mayflies’, isn’t it?

    I’m employing my own twin-pronged approach at the moment: one of my WIPs has been left to mature (or die, as the case may be), and I’m working on another. At the moment I’m putting together that skeletal first draft; as you say, only time will tell whether it will be Michelangelo’s David or Frankenstein’s Monster!

    Enjoy your trip to the writing den. Hopefully you’ll get lots of work done.

  2. Paul Sutton Reeves April 7, 2014 at 1:13 pm #

    Hi Mari and thanks for your comments.

    I’m glad that you enjoyed the extract. It is indeed from the sequel to “Mayflies”. Are you willing to divulge what new idea you’re working on now? How intriguing!

    I’m very much looking forward to getting away after a long, hard term. It’ll be good to have a change of scenery even I don’t get too much writing done.

  3. April 7, 2014 at 9:11 pm #

    Oh yes! Yes to a sequel to Mayflies! You just made my day Paul 🙂

  4. Paul Sutton Reeves April 8, 2014 at 10:30 am #

    Hi Lauren and thanks for your kind comments! It’s only loosely a sequel, second in a putative bomber trilogy with intergenerational connections and whatnot… And there are only 15,000 words to date – that’s just a tenth of the length of its successor!

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