Writing: The Joy And…The Joy?

Now, where am I with everything? Right so, off I was hobnobbing this week with the publishing glitterati at the Hachette Ireland Author Party in Dublin. I met some grand folk, chatted about books, the writing process and when asked, I endeavoured to talk sensibly about TOO CLOSE TO BREATHE and it’s publication next year. If I sound snooty, it’s because now I am. I’m beginning to get notions of myself and require taking down a peg or two. If that has ye all forming a queue, you can back off because book two is doing a mighty fine job of leatherin’ my behind all on its own thank you very much.

Here are some of the lovely questions that have been bumping round my head over the last few weeks. Can I do this? Is this plot too big, how can I frame this narrative, who gets to speak, who gets to paint a picture here? Where is my detective? How’s she coping now? All this, o’ course, comes off the back of editing a now almost ready manuscript so the rawness of new work seems very raw indeed. In it though, there’s great fun if I can shut up the critic for five minutes and there are now breaks in those clouds, nice patches where I forget I’m writing book two and race along for a page or three.

There’s plenty of time before I have to meet this deadline but then that asks the question: why am I pushing? I’ve noticed that some of my best writing comes when I’ve been writing fast, my best ideas have emerged when I’m in that creative grip. Also, I’ve noticed if I allow myself too much time to dally, if I think about the story details too much, the idea begins to lose some of its intrigue for me. So I get to worry constantly that I’ve given myself too much time to think out a plot and then I worry that I haven’t thought about the plot enough and helpfully (read sarcasm) all the big story questions then take turns to gallop through my head for fun. Great!

Of course, none of this is new. This is the same every time I write a novel. Call it a fear of commitment if you will, you get twenty thousand words in and realise that this sucker has clamped a manacle round your ankle, you’re in deep and you’re not getting out ‘til the end. I know the pattern, been through it before, I know that next is the free-wheeling honeymoon phase where I can’t lever myself away from the keyboard, where all threads have multiple directions, I get drunk on possibility and more decisive at the same time, the characters chatter away in my head constantly and my notebook fills with the fevered scratchings of a writer possessed. And then at about sixty thousand words back to here again: doubt, fear, linguistic constipation. Why do I do it? Because I love writing and I’d rather spend a day frowning, scraping together a couple of sentences and beating myself up about them than almost anything else. Such is the heartache of the creative process, such is the joy!


On Twitter: @LivKiernan

Debut novel, Too Close To Breathe, published with riverrun April 2018


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