One of the reasons it took me eight years to write Memories of a Murder was because at the time of starting it, I was still in school. After that, college and then work – in short, life got in the way.
I worked in a shop and I got two days off a week – Sundays and a day during the week. I used Sundays to catch up with family and friends, which left the day in the week and evenings to write my novel.
To be honest, that day in the week was a write-off. I would sleep in until late mornings or early afternoons to recover from the previous long days, and I’d just want to switch off and do nothing. I’d end up just watching TV, or going shopping.
Then I got a job in an office, and suddenly, I had my weekends back. I was able to regain my energy, meet up with friends, and then still have some spare time in which to write. In short, I had a routine back.
Most of Memories of a Murder was written between 2007 and 2010, although the plot had been worked out prior to that, and in addition there have been some minor edits since.
Part of me now thinks – ‘It’s been four years! What have you done since then?’ and the truth is, I’ve not done much in the way of writing.
There are plenty of excuses, for a while I was a touch disillusioned with writing, I travelled to Australia for the best part of a month, I joined a book club, I met my best friend, decorated the flat and most of all work got incredibly busy. All of these led to more of my spare time being eaten up, leaving me less and less time for writing.
To be fair, there was still time to write, but with all that going on, I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. Writing is a horribly slow process, mentally – if not physically – exhausting. Even the most prolific of writers take six months to write a novel – on average, that’s about seven hundred words a day, assuming you get everything right first time and there’s no editing.
Taking the odd hour here and there was not going to deliver much quality writing, and so more often than not, I just didn’t write.
That doesn’t mean I didn’t write anything at all. While I was in Australia I managed to write about ten thousand words of my second book (there were a lot of planes and coaches involved!) and in the follow summer, I also wrote around five thousand words of Harry Hicks’ history – which may never go anywhere, but at least tells me more about the character.
On top of that I wrote eleven thousand words on an altogether new novel. Although, that one is parked for now.
One of my todgers (Incredibly popular Twitter game #ReplaceLodgerWithTodger invented by me. NB, may or may not be popular) once told me I’m too sociable to write, and maybe that’s true, but what’s also true is that a story won’t be told if you’re telling it wrong.
I made the assumption four years ago that Harry had led a successful life since the end of Memories of a Murder, however that created a false world, which made it difficult to pin down the motives of the characters involved. Now, I’ve realised that his life went down a different route and it’s helped me make sense of the how the plot progresses from there.
This realisation has coincided with a fairly relaxed period in my life, one where I’ve managed to pin down a proper routine. I’m finally ready to start telling Harry’s story again.