Cut-throats, cribbage and Christmas
Cut-throats, cribbage and Christmas! That's what lockdown meant to me!
As a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, I was furloughed on 1 April for two months, facing a lot of uncertainty about job security and a reduced income.
While 'mini me' occupied a lot of time, I was determined to do something positive with my lockdown time. After all, in normal circumstances, I am often complaining about having to spend so much time doing the 'need to do', such as working for a living, childcare and domestics, I have precious little time for the nice to do, and, in particular, my writing.
So, being confined to barracks, I finally found some time to get back some writing, at last.
Cut-throats, cribbage and Christmas started to occupy my thoughts as I made a decent dent in my long-overdue 'to do' list of writing projects.
And it's been a very rewarding process.
'Yo Ho Ho Ho' is the final part of the 'Jolly Roger' trilogy, following 'The Big One' and 'Uncle Prawn'. And yes, it involves pirates and Christmas (which combine to provide the title), and also the card game cribbage. Not to mention rum, donkeys, sherry and a cuckook clock with laryngitis.
In this period of doom, gloom and uncertainty, I found it therapeutic to distract myself in my writing, and forged for myself a silver lining in these dark times.
I started this story with just a vague idea. I had very little in the way of structure and plot.
A recurring problem I have, as a writer, is not so much that I lose the plot - although I am frequently accused of that - but that I never had the plot in the first place.
I had no idea of what was going to happen in this book. And, if truth be told, my heart simply wasn't in it. I've been itching to make a start on the NEXT book I plan to write, 'The Red Herring'. But I felt a little obliged to complete this trilogy first, fearing that if I didn't do it now, I might never do it.
So I started writing. And I put down 40,000 words, which was an achievement in itself, until I'd exhausted what little structure I had in my mind. I had no idea where the story was going to go; I only knew how it would end. However, it was definitely a case of quality over quantity.
I hit the old writer's block wall, and I wasn't overly happy with the tone of what had come so far.
But, the more I wrote, the more I thought about it; and the more I thought about it, and re-engaged with some of the characters from the previous two books, the more I started to like it.
Suddenly, my heart WAS in it. What had started as a chore suddenly became a labour of love. Ideas started to flow. And as they did, I realised that I needed to go backwards before I could go forwards, incorporate those ideas and crack on.
As I write this, we've just entered July. I am 30,000 words into my second draft - still with a fairly blank canvas in terms of what happens in the final third, but some firm foundations to build on.
I read a few articles over the year, where establish writers were asked "what advice would you give to aspiring authors", and a few of them did say, quite simply, "write. Just write something."
And it really is true.
When I started writing Yo Ho Ho Ho, my heart wasn't in it, I had no idea of story and structure, it was something I felt I HAD to do, rather than something I WANTED to do. But I forced myself. I started writing. Started fighting the negative thoughts. And I fell in love with it.
I toiled over those early moments. Now I am treasuring my writing time.
So that is MY advice to any aspiring authors. Write. Just write. And you really don't always know where it's going to take you!