I'm just emerging from a long dark tunnel brought about by a week at Arvon and moving house at the same time. I've got my computer up and running, my printer connected and my favourite books out - though not yet on shelves - and have at least a rough outline prepared for what I'm meant to be doing, work-wise, over the next few weeks.
My Arvon course was for writers of teen fiction. (I've had a teen fantasy novel on the back burner for the past year or so.) I turned up at Lumb Bank tired, preoccupied with the house move, and not really in the mood to write. On the first day, I considered myself an experienced writer who only needed help with the structure of teen fiction. By the last day, I felt I'd be better employed as a plongeuse in a backstreet café, so greatly had my sense of ability as a novelist been shaken.
But all this is good. I now have a far stronger vision of where my story is going and, importantly, why it's headed in that direction.
I have also learnt a few stylistic tricks from the two tutors, Lee Weatherly and Malorie Blackman, which will stay with me forever in every type of writing I attempt. For a writer, even a published novelist and poet, it seems there's always something more to learn.
Before I moved house two weeks ago, I was absolutely intent on building up a portfolio of new poems towards my third collection. That work will continue - my third collection is scheduled for publication in 2008 - but with less immediate emphasis, as I put the bulk of my efforts into finishing this teen fantasy while the inspiration and desire to write is still inside me.
Thanks to the Arvon course, I have a solid synopsis prepared, and a strong story structure in place; now all I need is to sit down at the keyboard every day for the next few months and grow me a novel!