I discovered this poet and philosopher on a blog I follow: "The Marginalian" by Maria Popova. In a recent blog Popova discusses Irish poet and philosopher, John O’Donoghue. In a quote from his book “Benedictus. A Book of Blessings” he talks about new beginnings.
‘To live a truly creative life we always need to cast a critical eye at where we presently are.’
Now, at the beginning of 2024, I can do this with my writing. I’m presently at the end of writing my fourth novel, at least the first draft of almost sixty thousand words. I can see it is a complete story, and I am writing the very last chapter. Once that is done, I plan to leave the draft novel to settle. Then it requires a good bit more work of polishing and crafting. While I allow the work to ‘settle’, I have already started to plan my next work of creative writing.
The process of writing a novel
is a bit like baking a Christmas cake! For my current work in progress, I’m just about ready to take the cake out of the oven. Then I’ll wrap it up and store it away for a few weeks for the flavours and aromas to develop in my cake (or novel).
Later, I’ll unwrap it and begin work on the overall presentation. For the cake, this means that I cover it in fine rolled marzipan, then icing, then decorations. For the novel, I’ll pull it back up on my laptop screen and begin to review the language, adding similes and metaphors to develop meanings and themes. I’ll check the settings, the time of day and months and years, so that my reader can feel embedded into the narrative.
I like to use Maps
of the settings in my novels, and where possible I go and visit the places I write about. I can also check out far-flung places on Google maps to give me a sense of the sky, the lay of the land and the coast line. I’ll revisit the detail of these places at this point.
All these, and more, are my finishing tasks for the novel and they will take time. Once completed, I hand my manuscript over to my proofreader to read it through from start to finish and note any errors. Then, when that is done, I’ll make the final corrections. At this point, the novel will be ready for me to think about a cover and the title, then it is ready to self-publish.
Final proof read
Once published, the author proof copy is like the first cut of the cake. The author gets to sample it.
While the book is in its settling stage, I will make a new beginning with my next novel. My overall aim is to tell the story of recent Irish history, from the mid-nineteenth century to the mid-twentieth century. I want to tell it through the eyes and experiences of Irish women. Women like my own mother, a Waterford woman, and her mother, my grandmother, born in the nineteenth century. My great-grandmother, Catherine, was born around 1860, and would have known about the Great Hunger. My imagined characters will tell these stories.
This current work in progress is set in 1914 and 1915. I am halfway through my journey of one hundred years. I think I have enough new beginnings for my novels to keep me busy for a while!
Thank you for reading. Bridget Walsh