Thursday, July 24, 2008

Our back garden is part of an enclosed oasis, overgrown with clematis and honeysuckle, surrounded by a square of tenements. Yesterday, out cutting grass with a blunt pair of shears, holding handfuls and snipping slowly through the strands, I listened to the neighbour's kids.

"What if nothing had names, and we could, like, decide what to name everything?"
"I call this tree."
"I call this shed."
"Chicken shed."
"I name you Ali."
"I name that sky."

Remember when the world was so fascinating you had to find names for everything? The strands of an orange, every tiny groove and place in your face, cat's fur when it's no longer attached to the cat.

Sometimes writing feels like that for me. Hunting words with a butterfly net and your eyes shut, trying to sniff out the real, the right name for a particular thing.

At the moment I'm working mostly in my head - turning over the characters, waiting for them to come alive and tell me how the story should go. Usually, I jump right in and write, which might be the best way to work. But this time I want to have the story formed before I start cluttering it with words. So I'm trying out plots in my head, trying to make it tested and tempered so that it's strong and good. Talking to people with life experiences utterly opposite to my own. Trying to understand things that confound me. Researching, reading, soaking in detail. Waiting for the time when I'm ready to start naming things.

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