Climbing to the diving board

It’s that time again… a novel finished; the usual early morning routine of writing and knowing (sort of) what direction I’m heading in finished. When I say finished, I mean finished to a certain point. It’s had a good edit and is being read by a few friends to see what they think after which I’ll read it again with their comments in mind and see if it needs a further overhaul. It’s been an immersive journey, this one, even more than Londonia; a story so convoluted at times that I became utterly lost in my own overgrown maze of continuity, or rather non-continuity but I think the maze has been pruned sufficiently now to allow reader exploration. So far I’ve had one effusive response, very effusive so I’m hoping that’s a good sign.

Writing something as long as a novel is oddly comforting, or at least I find it so; a sort of safe place and alternative zone, a rolling project, a cave ( bed with hot water bottles) to retreat into as the real world becomes increasingly complex and worrying…

So, the diving board. I hang my protective towel on a hook and approach the first steps feeling chilled with apprehension. Half way up I’m distracted with a thought of safety and warmth, a return to the changing room, a café, an easy trawl through social media, papers, distractions but then I’d feel empty, unchallenged and in the end, uncomforted. The top platform is empty and stretches away like a small airstrip. I pace carefully forward and peer over the edge. The water is crisply untouched, unruffled. The blank rectangular blue page in effect. I know ideas will emerge if I swim. Arms raised, body trembling, knees bent I push down, arc and plunge.

This morning’s unknown is slightly more known than I had anticipated. I’d had a time travel story wandering about in my mind for a few days and then recalled a novel I’d started a couple of years back based on a short story called The Couch. I dug it out from the recesses of the laptop, read through and wondered why I’d stopped where I had. Possibly as Londonia had taken over at that point. I need only leap from a shorter hight, a good body of words already completed, my imaginary world waiting.

An extract – The Couch experiences a night in a Tooting Bec garden.

The rain gathers pace, the drops becoming a stream of water. I suppose my stuffing will dry out again but what might happen to the desk’s tropical wood veneer . . . someone is going to be in serious trouble with the brittle designer woman. The someone appears suddenly from the back entrance to the garden with a bundle of green plastic sheets. He unwraps them, throws one over the desk, then the chairs, runs around them winding bright yellow string, swearing loudly. The last one is for me. The grey daylight morphs into dark green shadows. I feel the string bunching up the crunching fabric against my legs. Then he’s away, cursing as he walks. 

The rain now patters on the tarpaulin as I steam gently. The night encroaches and animals claim the garden. I hear their small movements on the gravel, feel fur against my wood. Cats snarl at each other; an owl makes its echoing call, another responding from some distant garden. There are other presences out here, people who have claimed this patch of London for themselves over time, odd snatches of conversation warped by rain and time. I don’t fear ghosts. There were many in the chateau even though the various owners invited priests and other psychic cleaners in to oust them. I doze under the plastic lulled by the constant faint drumming of the raindrops.

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