What’s a deadline for?


I am somewhat scared by how long it’s been since I wrote anything there–five or six months or so. I never intended to post regularly, but a break of that length is pushing it.

Anyway, I wanted to tease out something odd that happened recently. Last Monday I submitted the final 20,000 words of my Masters project for the year, of which 15,000 was the revised beginning of what I hope will be my new novel  and 5,000 was a journal in which I had to trace the development of that work. I had emailed my lecturer hoping for an extension, owing to considerable demands on my time through work and so on, but I didn’t get it. So I was faced with the prospect of hammering out the lion’s share of that word count in four or five days. (I had of course ignored the good advice given to me earlier in the semester, to try and write every day….)

Under the pressure of having to produce the work in that compressed timeframe, though, something happened. A new voice for my work somehow emerged, and a rather interesting and intriguing device–an intrusive narrator–also introduced itself to me. What fascinates me is whether this would have happened if I’d more time–I don’t know. I recorded towards the end of my journal that somehow I had stepped back from the creative process–the person writing this book was not Me, necessarily. I’m still not sure what means. It’s as though I’ve developed a narrative voice that is an additional character in the book. And despite the time pressure I was under, it emerged reasoanbly organically and it seems to work.

I’m the first person to admit that I don’t have a lot of discipline as a writer–a five month absence from this blog should attest to that!–and this experience is not something I would chalk up as any sort of an advertisement for discipline promoting creativity. Sometimes, perhaps, you do have to wait for inspiration–although you probably won’t hear that sentiment in too many writers’ courses.

In an interview I read recently, Japanese novelist Haruki Marukami said that monotony of routine was his key to creative output–his routine is the same, day after day, and as a result when he sits down to write his imagination is ready to guide him. I can’t claim any experience of this either, but it might be fun to try it one day.

I’ve posted an early version of the beginning of this new project–I might post some more later.

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