There’s a great walking trail in Leitrim called The Shannon Blueway.
Not familiar with it?
Neither was I until I came back from London.
There are sections of Blueway in different parts of the country, walking routes that run alongide the River Shannon. The section I walk on runs between Drumshanbo and Carrick on Shannon in Co. Leitrim. At 16km, it’s a stretch too far for me (the fridge magnet) just yet, but I’m working up to it.
For now, I do a 7km walk from my home to join The Blueway at Battlebridge. I follow the canal to Drumleague Lock until I turn for home. Sometimes, I veer off at the lock into a loop walk which covers roughly the same distance.
I’d love to say that I do it every day, but that would be a blatant lie. I did at first when I came home but, as with most things, I got bored. Repitition and routine are not my friends. I walked other routes in other places. I sought out unknown trails wherever I travelled. My adventures brought me along Cork’s rugged coastline to the top of waterfalls in Kerry. I walked in the company of childhood friends and was welcomed into the homes of strangers. I climbed mountain trails. I panted a lot.
Suddenly, The Blueway was too familiar. I had lost interest. I had given it my attention until it offered nothing new. And so it is with my writing. A new idea can keep me focused intently until I have gotten everything good out of it. Until it is worn out. On good days, good ideas lead to good ideas and my stories create themselves. On bad days, however, when the ideas feel stale, my stories become just like The Blueway. As wonderful as they may be, they are too familiar and unexciting.
So it was with Prime. It’s the first in a series of fantasy novels for middle grade readers (9-12ish). My main character and the world he lives in are my alternate reality. I know and understand that world, sometimes better than my own. I love my main character as if he were a living, breathing boy. I love some of the supporting characters even more. When they get into trouble, my typing speed somehow seems to increase to match my heartbeat until my fingers have tapped them to safety and the danger has passed. My day’s work is not done until his is, until he has overcome obstacles in his way or defeated villains who would destroy him.
I loved every moment of writing Prime, but I’m not ready for book two in the series. For one thing, I haven’t got a book deal yet and more importantly, I’m distracted by learning and negotiating my way through a labyrinthine publishing industry. Like London, I needed a break from that world.
And so I’ve created another.
I’m not sure exactly what it is, but it’s certainly a world away from Prime. I’m calling it Blossom at the moment – and not just because I like one word titles, but because there’s a floral theme running through it.
I know what it’s not. It’s not a children’s book. I just started writing what appeared to be women’s fiction, despite my total lack of knowledge of, or interest in, the genre. But it turned into something else. Those tapping fingers put my heroine into a place she never wanted to be. I tried to relieve the discomfort, but no matter how fast I typed, she was trapped there and I don’t think she can be saved. I thought of Gillian Flynn and wondered how she wrote her main female character in Gone Girl. And I wondered what darkness must exist within you to create such demons.
So I closed my computer. I dug out my walking shoes and as my feet carried my busy mind along the Blueway, I wondered if the familiar isn’t that bad after all.