After winning my place on the Retreat West novel writing course came the wait for it to start. I had tried to explain to my children what I was doing and the youngest essentially thought I was going to be going back to school so that is what we call my writing work now - my school work. It works for us.
I was excited on my first day of 'school' and after ushering the children off to their schools with more urgency than usual I eagerly awaited at the laptop, steaming cup of coffee to one side, snacks on the other, for my log in details and first section of the course to be accessed. Armed with a lovely new shiny diary, embossed with name (a gift from my very proud husband) I jotted in my deadlines and scheduled out my week. I joined the course networking site and waved a virtual hello to my fellow writers.
The course content for month one has been varied and intense at the same time and I was a little apprehensive. But I have thoroughly enjoyed the work and with my new found sense of organisation I set off at great pace. What seemed so alarmingly daunting at the beginning, taken in weekly bite size pieces via the course became manageable. Even weeks when I haven't been able to put as much time in as I would like, as long as I get my head down for a bit to get my submission pieces written, in my head I am still working on character building (this is completely possible to do whilst; driving, cooking, vacuuming, cleaning the toilet, sorting washing, ironing and listening to ridiculously long accounts of how one wrestler beat another from a seven year old).
The course has made me really think in the mind set of my characters and various exercises have caused the whole group, according to our social chat site, to even feel uncomfortable to go so deep into the psyche of 'someone else'. It even, dare I say it, has sometimes felt like betraying the characters, to write their inner most thoughts, secrets and desires out in black and white. Sometimes I do have to remind myself of the following :
THEY ARE NOT REAL!
Upon completion of month one, I felt a sense of elation. I looked proudly at my lever arch file (pink, of course) filling up with my work, my ideas, my sweat and toil. And it was all so supremely organised. All my things to do were checked off and ticked. I have character sheets depicting, flaws, traits and personalities. I have ideas about environment and how important it can be in setting the tone and mood. I have learned about psychic distance and intensity and character arcs. I have struggled (and I mean really struggled) to pull a ten point plot together.
Now for the real hard work though.
(Again with thanks to Bridget Jones...)