It’s been a while since I sat down and wrote something completely new from scratch, rather than working on old things and – increasingly these days it has seemed – editing books that were written a while ago. So it is something that I’m relieved to be doing to be writing something completely new.
I’m not entirely sure yet whether it is a book or a short story. My feelings were originally that it was going to be something no longer than around 10,000 words. However, things change, and already this new piece has grown to 1,750 words just in its opening bit. So I’m wondering now whether it is actually destined to be a novella instead. Perhaps even a full-blown novel?
When I begin writing things, it can be very hard to know how long it will become. I usually have the basic idea and a few of the plot twists, but I find as I write, many other things suggest themselves. A handful of my books were intended to be books, but the rest actually grew out of short stories which when I started them I never knew that they would become so long. In fact, my longest book – ‘Orb of Arawaan’ – started life as a short story that remained that way for quite a few years before I finally settled down to finish it. It then grew and grew and ended up in excess of 140,000 words. So you just never can tell.
This piece is called ‘The long summer of war’ and is an idea I had back in my very creative period earlier on this year when I was churning out short stories at the rate of one or more every week. I had this idea, born out of a dream, where xenophobic islanders have to welcome outsiders during wartime who they see as trying to usurp their jobs and their way of life. The piece centres on the difficulties faced by those moving in, as well as the hostility of the islanders. Thrown in for good measure is the relationship between the outsiders and one of the islanders who overcomes the peer pressure to be xenophobic to grow to get on with the newcomers. Or something like that.
At the moment time seems to be very much at a premium though, and I just don’t have the time that I would have liked to devote to this. So I’ll do what I can when I can and have no firm completion date set. Anyway, I firmly believe that no fiction writer can set themselves a firm deadline and ever really expect to meet it unless they give themselves a stupidly long time (four years to write a book is not a real deadline!).
I’m also wanting to get another short story on the portfolio section of the site. I have a few in reserve that were written a while ago that have finished doing the magazine thing. I have in mind to put up some time this month one called ‘The walls have ears’ that I’m sure I’ve mentioned before. Next month’s will probably be the short but sweet ‘Spending a Penny’. I give no guarentee though that I will make this a regular monthly thing. I’m not actually a big fan of writing short stories, so you are more likely to see me end up tolling away on another long book manuscript.
Tonight though the ‘day’ job beckons, so my time at the keyboard is being curtailed, unfortunately. Tomorrow, hopefully, I’ll get some more done. But then it is a busy weekend with family visiting, Zoë’s birthday and the reading of ‘Bringing home the stars’ on Sunday: don’t miss it! Details on http://www.jennifer-kirk.com