This morning I came across this photo and it struck me as a perfect articulation of what I am experiencing right now.
I travelled to South Africa recently with the kernel of a story idea tucked away, and since I’ve returned that story has been brewing. Its central characters have come into focus, as has the story that I want to tell. Or at least the starting point for the story, because I’m a panster by nature. This means I don’t write a detailed outline before I begin and I never know exactly where I’m headed, although I might know certain plot points.
The trouble is, now that I’ve found the story’s heart, I need to return to South Africa to do some more research. And I can’t do that right now because, well, money. So I have all this material swirling around me. It’s tantalising and frustrating, because I don’t feel ready to put pen to paper yet, but I desperately want to start.
I signed up for NaNoWriMo, which I’ve never done before, because I thought perhaps I needed to force myself to get going, to get the story humming and see if the characters are as alive on the page as they are in my mind, and then come back to the research later. And yet here I am on Day 1 of NaNoWriMo writing a procrasti-post!
The first draft of the novel that I’ve just recently finished, set in Thailand, flew out of me. I remember thinking, It will never be this easy again. That book felt like a gift. It is a truism that every book is different, and that every book teaches you only how to write that particular book. So here I am at square one again. And I can’t figure out if I’m genuinely procrastinating, or if the book needs more brewing time.
So writers out there, please tell me, how did you know when you were ready to start writing your next book?