Tuesday, 19 October 2010

The Story Of Polaroid

Polaroid is the novel I will write for the first time this November. I have written it once before.

It was towards the end of March, I think, that I reached The Point with my last novel-attempt, Who Ever Heard Of Applecake? The Point comes when you know you need to change more of the book than you need to keep; when you've learnt lessons that are so big, they undermine everything you've done so far; when you'd do better to stop trying to write that particular novel, and start again from scratch. So I ditched it. Over. Done with. Full period.

I didn't expect to jump straight back in with another novel, but history shows I must have. I had this rough idea... I would write a summer novel. Over the summer. It would be about summer, which for me involves guitars and treehouses and that old plaguey bird, interacting with other people.

Somehow that little fragment became a fully-grown, if underfed and shallow-framed, book idea. By the 5th April, according to this blog, I was officially planning. The next bit is fuzzy, but by the end of May I had a finished first draft.

By June 14th I had 1/3 of a second draft, and had reached The Point. Remember? -- Ditch the bitch and start again.

Only this time, I hadn't learnt anything. I'd learnt the book didn't work, but I didn't learn why. Nothing useful. After that, I sort of ducked out of thinking about anything novel-related. Oh, the misery. Oh, the universal darkness. We're retreading old ground, now, but in my lowest moment of not-really-thinking-about-novels, when I had even stopped reading them in favour of outdated biographies, I got an email from NaNo, thought something along the lines of, 'actually, in fact, maybe so,' and sat down too quickly.

I didn't want to start another novel. How many unfinished good ideas do I want on my track record, I asked myself, rhetorically, not expecting an answer?

So that's why I'm having another go at Polaroid.

It's different, this time around, and it's better, and it's a little bit surer of it's own identity. What's more, it turns out it never actually reached The Point at all. Flicking through the first attempt while planning for the second, I was struck by something. Once I got past the clunky, overly-intended first section, it stopped being bad. By the time it got to the Teen Ultimate Melodrama Moment Of Climax (yes, it had a TUMMOC), it was good. In places.

That's the first time that's ever happened. Too bad the TUMMOC will get a little sidelined in the second attempt, but still. The bad doesn't outweigh the good. I can run with this, I thought to myself, rhetorically, not expecting a response.

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