I love those times in the morning when my mind wakes up before my body. In those long minutes my mind is full of words. Sometimes the words are thoughts about the novel I’m working on, decisions made. I asked myself this morning whether Starr, dripping wet now in her Pentecost clothes, should go back along the canal to the boat, or walk up into the town to the Maison d’Estella. I decided on the latter
Sometimes the words are actual prose that might go straight into the novel. Fire. Water. Darkness. She wondered vaguely of this was what death was really like. That went straight into the draft. Sometimes I hear dialogue - Starr talking to young Thibery; Modeste talking about his cures; the way the Empress addresses Starr. I hear not just the words but the register in which each person speaks. Of course this all gets into the draft and is developed as the story evolves in a more conscious daytime mode.
The temptation here is to say that I am in a trance at htat time of day and that I am in mystic communication with my characters. More probably I've been imagining characters and inventing so many stories for so long that a special bit of the brain is hyper-efficient and supple and works on my stories in the night.
But this process does not just apply to stories. It applies to articles and other prose stuff that might be preoccupying me. It also crucially applies to projects that I dream up and put into action.
A propos - apart from the above interventions, story making has been somewhat left behind this week as there are two huge projects to preoccupy the sleeping and the making mind: the Easington Tall Tales Project Project and the Room To Write Weekend
The Easington work is coming on a storm – sixty thousand words of stories and poems invented and created by the Easington writers in response to the inspiration of that amazing area, that wonderful community and that unique culture. Looking through the work I can see the enormous progress the writers have made in these months and I wake up thinking the book emerging from this work will. in its own way, be groundbreaking. So sometimes I wake up literally hearing the stories of Susan, Chris, Mavis, Agnes, Joan. Terry, David and Mary in my head.
This week Avril and I have been reviewing images to go in the book with artist Fiona Naughton, who has spent days across at Easington looking, noting and photographing. And then days at home drawing and painting possible images for the book. She spent one good day with Mavis Farrell (a member of the group and herself a photographer) as Mavis knows all the secret places important to some of the stories. So now I am waking up with images of a possible book cover in my head and pages of great prose counterpointing Fiona’s sensitive drawings and dramatic photographs.
So tomorrow (Thursday) in the group we will review all their work and finally choose a title. Avril and I think that a title should emerge from the range of poems in our collection. Some great words there. Perhaps I will wake up in the morning and see the cover illustrated by Fiona’s painting of the coastal path by the beach, complete with the title (whatever it may be) subtitled by Tall Tales from Easington Writers …
And the Room To Write Weekend? Well I've been dreaming and thinking and planning that for nearly a year now. And now it's imminent. My feeling is that with all this thinking and dreaming and planning it could be a success, not least because it’s the work of three dreamers - Avril, Gillian and Me.
I will post all about that here after the week-end - there could be lots to say….