This blog was first published in March 2017, in the lead up to the launch of Blood and Bandages. I’m republishing it now for the books many fans and to inspire other writers to carry on, come what may. They say writing is a marathon not a sprint. I agree. I started my marathon without any training or a map of the route, but I passed the finish line because I had total faith in my material. I believe that with passion, resilience and a story in which you believe, you can too.
Next part will be published on 17th March.
I felt upset and hurt, but it was a blessing in disguise. The book had taken over my life.
If I wasn’t researching it, I was thinking about it. If I wasn’t thinking about it, I was writing it. If I wasn’t writing it, I was interviewing William, and if I wasn’t doing that, I was looking after him. My husband, Richard, half-joked that there were three people in our marriage, him, me and William. Our young son had got used to being side-lined because I was writing. My friends had grown accustomed to me cancelling dates because of the book or turning up and talking about it endlessly. It was no surprise, therefore, that there were few complaints when I told them that the book was off.
Meantime, William celebrated his 100th birthday in Essex. His family and friends were concerned that we had fallen out and one of his closest friends offered to mediate between us. After a few conversations, it was arranged that William and I should meet up to talk about what had happened and see if, and how we could continue. It was awkward at first, but after apologises and reflection, we decided that we would carry on, but not immediately.
All this occured in May 2015, and the timing was fortunate. It was my 50th that September, and with the book on the back-burner, I re-engaged with my family, friends and scriptwriting. I resurrected the idea of attending a residential course in screenwriting with Arvon. The thought of five days tucked away in a Devon manor house with like-minded writers and no internet; cooking and eating together and developing a script with the guidance of two tutors, was my idea of heaven. Knowing how much I wanted to go, my husband got the time off work and bought me a place for my birthday.
My latent screenwriting skills were nutured by the Arvon tutors during five intense and exhilarating days. When I returned home, I was ready to re-start Blood and Bandages but this time, I decided to treat it like a screenplay. I transposed the story into a three act structure. I examined the book for a logline and found the hitherto illusive heart of the story. I plotted the book’s key emotional beats and ensured that each chapter ended on a hook (cliff-hanger).
It was a wonderfully liberating process which gave the story an unwavering focus and natural momentum.
I finally knew how to weave all the elements of the story into one glorious tapestry. There was only one thing left to do, sell the story, and the best place to sell a book had to be the London Book Fair. It was now March 2016, the book was unfinished and the fair was just one month away.