I’ve been inventing the wheel for as long as I can remember. Sometimes I invent it once a week, other times are slower and I only invent the wheel once a year. I still remember fondly the moment when I realised, for example, that grams and milliliters are not always the same. Because, you know, they are not the same at all. A hundred grams may weigh the same as 100 milliliters but that’s not true for all grams and milliliters seeing as one is weight and the other is volume (I think.)
I also have fond memories of the moment when I almost comprehended how electricity worked. I’m not talking about the basics we all know such as that it flows along cables and make electric things work. I’m talking about the actual way it flows. Curiosity is one of my lesser vices. Anyway, I invented that wheel by reading a Jeffrey Deaver novel so in a sense it wasn’t an invention at all but we all knew I wasn’t talking about actual inventions from the beginning, right?
I’ve always considered myself more ignorant of how the world works than other people. There are so many millions of things I don’t know. With time, I’ve come to realise (that was wheel invention 23) that most people are ignorant about millions of things but, and this is important, they know a thing or two about a thing or two, just like me.
I may not know the first thing about options trading (I do know the first thing. It’s the next thousand and one things that I don’t know and don’t want to know) but I know how to make French toast and a rainbow cake. Chemistry is incomprehensible to me beyond the most basic of basics but I can list the main grades of crude oil in seconds and how they come to be.
Some knowledge accumulates and leads to stark realisations of the kind writers used to refer to as “The veil lifted from my eyes.” In fact, I suspect all knowledge accumulates, whether you make a conscious effort to acquire it and retain it or not. Take writing, for instance. I know there are now university degrees in creative writing. It is beyond me what people study in these degrees seeing as the standard BA takes four years. They read and discuss a lot of writing, I suppose. And still this won’t guarantee them a successful writing career just like four years of training in translation of all sorts won’t make all taking the courses good translators. How do I know? Well, I know some pretty good translators and I’m not one of them.
But on to my latest invention, which is probably anti-climactic, so I apologise in advance. I discovered a new approach to writing and because I suspect a lot of writing folk has discovered it before me, I’m treating this as wheel invention #37.
I’ve been having some problems with my new manuscript. It goes well for a while and then I get stuck at a scene and have no idea how to move on. So I got annoyed and decided to try something else. I wrote the final scene. I had it in my mind, pretty much complete, so I wrote it. It flowed like a river. And then I decided to continue doing this — write separate scenes, not necessarily in chronological order and then link them instead of writing it all chapter after chapter following the plot.
It’s probably too early to call it a success because besides that final scene I’ve only just started on another — in the middle of everything — but it feels nice to be writing again. It also feels light after I threw off the shackles of sequential writing. So what if I have some heavy editing in my near future? So what if I have to delete whole chapters if they fail to work? I can live with that. And it’s amazing how all these separate scenes (because I have more than one and a half in my mind) reveal the whole story. I just need to put it all together, like a jigsaw, and I apologise for the tired old comparison but I couldn’t come up with anything better and this is a blog, not a novel, so I don’t try so hard.
There’s also an added benefit to that approach. It has solved my day-by-day problem. When I write, I find it extremely hard to break the everyday rhythm of the narrative. It’s actually one of the hardest things for me, taking characters from Monday to the Thursday of next week, for example. With the jigsaw puzzle approach, the problem solves itself. Chapter 10 is set on a Monday in a Bucharest. Chapter 12 is set on a Saturday, two weeks later, in a cottage in the village of Shere. And the sequence looks smooth, too, for now, at least.
So, that was my latest invention of the wheel — a discovery, actually, but I’m sticking with the invention for convenience. I don’t have to write chapter after chapter, after chapter in sequence. I can write chapter 25 first and then Chapter 14. Linking all these various scenes will be fun, I have no doubt about it. I am truly grateful for this story. If I had anyone to thank I definitely would, that’s how much I like it.