Well, I’ve got myself so tied up in knots with researching/writing my novel that I feel completely paralysed by the need to be factually as accurate as I can be. As a result I haven’t written anything of consequence for months.
So just as an experiment I decided to write a contemporary novel to see if the creative juices flowed any quicker… hey presto, I’m writing on a daily basis and having that itch scratched regularly. It feels good. I think my problem is that as an historian, I am a pedant and can’t conceive of putting any words on paper that don’t at least have a reference to check the accuracy with. The pedant got in the way of the creativity and consequently I’ve been stifled. How do other writers of historical novels do it? I don’t know. I’d love to ask. Hilary Mantel, I know, researches fanatically.
I guess that’s one reason why her novels take so long to write. I had the opportunity to meet her recently when her two books on Thomas Cromwell, Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies, were staged at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre. She is a charming and generous person who listened to my difficulties and explained her own. I’m not comparing myself to Hilary Mantel though – if my historical novel ever sees the light of day, it won’t be in the same league unfortunately.
So for the time being I’m going to be writing the contemporary novel and just enjoying the process of creating.