One of the many things I do, when I should instead be writing Containment, book number three, is analyse why I'm having such difficulty with this one. With both Overkill and The Ringmaster, when I sat at the computer the words came, sometimes they gushed, and on odd occasion avalanched onto the screen in front of me. With Containment it is more a trickle, and some days even that's an overstatement.
But why the difference? I didn't experience the literary constipation of the dreaded second novel that some seem to suffer. Do I have it with the third? Well no. I'm beginning to think the driving force behind my work has had more to do with my emotional climate than self-doubt and second guessing.
Let me explain.
The period in my life when writing Overkill was chaotic, and fraught. Chaotic because I had very young children and they bring with them a level of joyous chaos that turns your life on its head in ways you could never imagine. Thrown into that mix was a move to another city and Hubby going back to university which meant a big change and a couple of years with no income. All this was good and positive and exciting. But it was also a period of overwhelming grief. We didn't have an annus horribilus we had two, with two of the lovely men in our lives sickening and dying of cancer. Overkill became a form of escape, a way to temporarily blot out what was happening in the real world. In many ways it became a crutch. When I re-read it, I can see and feel the underlying depth of emotion I was feeling at that time. It channeled into Sam's feelings too.
The Ringmaster was the opposite, mostly. When writing this book it was on a wave of almost euphoria. The skies were clear, no one was sick, no one was dying, life had moved past that awful period. It was still underpinned by that deep sense of loss, but the outlook was bright. The words flowed.
Today, all is steady. Life is good, drama free, beautifully ordinary. And don't get me wrong, after the previous years we've had, ordinary is great - I love ordinary, and in no way am I wishing to tempt fate here. But I fear it's not that good for my writing. I don't have that all-encompassing emotional impetus I had with Overkill and The Ringmaster. I'm not needing my writing as a form of escape, or an expression of euphoria. Do writers need stormy weather?
Whether we do or not, I guess it's time for me to be a grown up and tell myself this is what I do, I love to write, it's what I've wanted to do since childhood, and now, through good times, and bad, and plain ole ordinary, I just have to do it.