In six days time my debut novel Badlands is launched into the world.
Four and half years after the initial idea, my work in writing and editing the story is complete. And while launch day on Friday 21st January will be a celebration of the book’s completion, the circle of my writer’s life will continue unabated.
I’ve already completed the first draft of my next work-in-progress, Bleak Waters and edits on that will begin on Monday 23rd January.
In the meantime, today I’ve gone back to the notebook to revisit ideas for my next novel and to develop some new ideas that have been percolating for a few months now.
This is the way of the writer’s life. By the time a book or story is released into the world, the writer is already onto the next project, maybe even the project after that.
And for me, that’s the way it has to be if you want to build a career as a writer. I hope that Badlands is the first of many books I publish, but to make that happen I have to be constantly on the look out for new ideas.
This is because ideas take time to develop. It took almost two years for me to slot all the pieces into place for Badlands. Bleak Waters began when I visited the Norfolk Broads back in May 2019. I started writing the first draft in October 2021.
I got the initial idea for what may be my next WIP back in Summer 2020, when I was out on a run and I noticed someone loitering in a car park, watching me as I ran. (This was in lockdown, when the building for the car park was closed).
It’s now January 2022 and it’ll be October, probably November before I start the first draft of that idea.
In the meantime, there’s a fourth idea sitting in my notebook from last Summer, with a few development notes already.
And I’m sure something will happen this year to trigger another idea for a novel.
All the while I’m also collating ideas and inspiration for short stories that will be written in between drafts or as I’m doing read throughs.
Back in the mid-noughties I was in a very different position. I was always waiting for the right idea, and dismissing any idea that wasn’t stunningly original. As a result, when I did get ideas I felt so much pressure to run with it straight away that inevitably the work felt forced.
Ideas are everywhere, and not all of the ideas I’ve mentioned above will become completed works. Some will form part of other stories, others will sit in my notebook, maybe for years, maybe forever.
But at some point, for a few of the ideas, something will click and new piece of writing will be born.
My dream, ultimately, is to write full time for a living. To do that, I need a steady stream of ideas.
This means keeping my ears open, my eyes peeled, and my notebook close at hand. Because you never know when you’ll see or hear or feel something that becomes the basis for your next WIP.
Badlands is released on 21st January 2022. Preorder here.