It's as though Roxy Parker has been frozen in time, like a woolly mammoth uncovered from an Icelandic glacier, or a body undusted from the depths of Pompeii—one foot forward, arms out, lips open in a conversation that remains unspoken, is threatening to be forgotten.
I'm midway through my sixth Ghostwriter Mystery and have had to drop Roxy like a teenage boy after an embarrassing date, no explanation, no apologies, just a quick turn and away.
I've been offered four freelance articles to write and, keen to plump up the bank account and keep my clients happy I've had to put Roxy aside and focus on that.
And it's so bloody hard.
Let me explain why. Starting a novel can sometimes be a breeze. You open that document and the words begin to flow. And other times, it's like plucking bush ticks from the aforementioned mammoth. Every single word is like a small victory, every plot development, worthy of a bottle of Moet.
This sixth novel was closer to the second kind. It took its time to develop, it didn't come easily, it made me work hard, and work hard I did.
And then suddenly it clicked. Like a red kelpie released from a fenced backyard, the plot began galloping towards the horizon at a breathtaking speed. There was no stopping me. I barely paused for lunch, let alone to greet the kids when they strolled in the door after school, I was madly immersed in that fabulous fictional world and I was loving it, even if I was turning into an unworthy mother. Again.
When a novel is working—really working—the plotting and the planning, the editing and the rewriting buzz through your brain at all hours of the day and night. It's the first thing you think about when you wake in the morning, and it's the very thing that stops you sleeping at night. It's fun and fierce in equal measure and it's always a delight, reminding you how lucky you are to be a writer in the first place, to be actually living this life.
Then reality smashes in.
It's happened many times in the creation of my novels, is always to be expected and yet still comes as a nasty surprise. In this case, I had to put Roxy aside and focus on several parenting stories and a home decorating article. All good fun, of course, but each one taking me further away from my beloved Roxy and a plot that is beginning to grow fuzzy again.
It's not always paid work that stalls the process for a writer. Sometimes it's her children and/or partner, her health or her home. Sometimes your parents need attention, a sibling needs a shoulder or friends/ visitors/community commitments get in the way. Occasionally it's holidays or travel that you've (stupidly!) scheduled in many months before. It might be as simple as a faulty computer or as complex and as dreadful as divorce or death.
The long and the short
Some disruptions will stall you for just an hour or so, others gobble up entire weeks, months or, God forbid, years, but each and every one is met with gnashing teeth and furrowed brow. Even the lovely disruptions like your beautiful children or that European holiday.
So, I'm rushing through these freelance articles, trying to do them justice without leaving poor Roxy suspended for too long. And I know when the schedule clears and I can defrost her from her icy perch, it may be difficult to remember where she left off, where it was she was walking, what it was she wanted to say.
But I will respark my creativity and the momentum will return. Until then, however, I beg patience of my many readers and have to remember: at least my bank balance has been brought out of suspension and given new life. And that's not something to be sneezed at.
Happy reading everyone.