Manuscript help, book reviews and author interviews
Giving birth to a character often needs coffee and pencil tops.
Days of staring into space, chewed up pencil tops, pots of coffee and a sheaf of blank pages rapidly filling up with doodles later, I was still where I had started out. It had been weeks since I’d put a word down on paper. Weeks full of starts and stops, punctuated with exasperated sighs, moments of self-doubt and a gnawing sensation in my stomach. The last one was perpetual hunger brought on by a combination of stress and directionless days.
I was desperate. If this continued, I’d be a few kilos heavier and of course, I would still be the writer without her story.
I had at the time, a sense of my story. Not the story. Not the plot. Not the beginning or the end. Not even the character. Just a sense…
… Something takes place within the pages of a book. A book about an adventure within a book. A self-discovery story, perhaps?
What is in a book?
Words and scattered between them – punctuation with their rules, each character having a place and purpose. Aha!
A character that doesn’t fit in… an ink splatter on a page walking through the book? An ink splatter? Seriously? Named Splot? Surely you’re joking. What about expressions? What about the reason for being? Is a leaky, defective pen a convincing raison d’etre? Can you even empathise with an ink splot?
Back to staring into space. More doodles. Flowers merge into faces being shot by arrows. Question marks rain down amidst rangoli designs and rapidly growing vines explode with flowers. People sprout hair looking like lightning bolts reflecting my hope of a lightning bolt of understanding.
I’m pacing the room now, my head exploding with unformed thoughts waiting to find expression.
Jumping into a book … a sea of questions … splashing the words off the page … running away from the tormenting question mark … aarghhhh … an exclamation at the end of a scream … bang! Ouch! Yelling, screaming, stop, stop, stop… full stop rolls onto the page… STOP!
‘Hold on!’ I yell. ‘I need a character.’
I flop down on my chair, exhausted by my runaway thoughts. I look down on my page and Lightning Bolt Head stares back at me. A doodle! A creative expression of a free wheeling mind. Lightning Bolt Head seems to wink. A doodle: Unique, has a definitive reason to exist, created by children and adults as they dream, think or try to stay awake in class.
And just like that, Squiggle was born.
At least in words. How she came to take the shape that you see her in today in Squiggle Takes A Walk, with her springy tail and wonky eyes is another story!
For now, I must go back to staring into space, drinking pots of coffee and rapidly filling sheafs of papers with doodles as I get down to writing Squiggle’s next adventure.
(The author has now bought herself fancy yellow pencils topped with erasers, so pencil tops seem safe for the moment.)