Even by my standards what has happened this month has been a bit strange, to say the least. I would like to blame Camp NaNoWriMo, another of these writing months that I like to sign up to, but actually this time it is mostly my own fault.
Unfortunately I went into April with two unfinished novels on my computer and having also promised to write a short story for a Facebook crime writing group. I optimistically set up a Camp NaNo project called ‘Finishing Things’ but I decided on quite a low target word count as I reasoned that much of my time would be spent editing existing words and not adding very many new ones. Having said that, I knew I would have to add a couple more chapters to’The Heir to Nothing’ because I found I had abandoned it earlier in the year with the ominous words ‘Not quite the end’. By the start of April we were well into lockdown, although I was still having to work from home at my day job, so I was fairly sure that I wouldn’t feel like starting anything new.
Oh dear. How wrong I was.
The first part of the month went more or less as planned.I finished book 20 in the Pitkirtly Mysteries, edited it and published it – I don’t like to hang about when I feel something is complete – and dashed off my short story. I think it was on my birthday, just after Easter, that it all started to go pear-shaped. It was probably because I had taken the day off from my day job, which freed up some thinking time, although I suppose Easter eggs followed almost at once by birthday chocolates might have had something to do with it. I was in the middle of writing the final chapters of ‘The Heir to Nothing’ when I had an unexpected but quite irresistible urge to start another book set in Sussex in Regency times.
At one time, as a teenager, I had a whole cupboard full of unfinished hand-written stories in my bedroom because I was very much more interested in starting something shiny and new than I was in finishing anything I had probably already got bored with. But I’ve become more conscientious since then, as well as more content to spend some time resolving plot glitches, and so I just made some notes about the possible new project in a writing notebook I keep for this series, and carried on right to the end of ‘The Heir to Nothing’.Then, the very next day, instead of doing any of the edits for the thing I’d just finished, I found myself starting a new document for ‘The Unwilling Heir’ – and off I went again. This one is almost writing itself, as sometimes happens, and I’m on chapter 3 already.
In some ways it makes sense to write two books set in the same ‘world’ one after the other like this, and it’s certainly something I’ve done in the past with the Pitkirtly series. There are two quite annoying aspects to what’s happened this time, though. One is that I now really need to visit Rye (again) and Hastings, but there seems to be little chance of doing that for a while, and the other is that this has messed up my writing plan for the year so much that I may have to cross it all out and start again.
Writerly problems! As long as the chocolate supply holds up I expect I’ll be fine. On the plus side, once I’ve got this ‘bonus’ novel out of my system, or maybe slightly before that, I will probably get an irresistible urge to return to Pitkirtlyworld.