When I was at school, September meant a new pencil case.  It sent me rooting in the cupboard under the stairs for whatever scraps of wallpaper my Dad could spare to back my exercise books.  Clean pages, white space; new possibilities.  For years, working in higher education, I retained that feeling of September newness, of things starting up and the excitement of what might be.  Autumn is still like that, even now (though my notebooks, these days, come from Paperchase or Moleskine).  For me, it’s the new year; a time of taking stock and reviewing priorities – both in life and in my creative projects.   It has to be said, I feel happier starting September with a list. 

So it’s appropriate that I should start this blog in September.  The ‘white space’ is different – less physical and more ether-eal (if you’ll excuse the pun).  But there’s still the excitement, the what-might-be, the ‘where will I go next?’  The best way to start something, I’ve realised, is to try and let go of that left brained, list-focused way of thinking and let the story breathe.   Let the characters emerge from what I observe around me and whatever half formed images or voices make themselves seen or heard.  And, interestingly, that’s where I am at the moment: at the very start of a new project with a cast of characters who don’t exist as characters quite yet but are glimpses or fragments of something that is still part of me – events, memories, desires. 

Thing is, I also need the lists.  They prepare me.  In the end, they create space: the time I allot myself to write, the mental freedom from the minutiae of life, which are important but can be distracting.  With a schedule in place I know the time for all that is taken care of, elsewhere.  And that means, hopefully, that the white space in the exercise begins to be filled up.  With possibility and potential; with the ‘what if?’ that makes writing (and reading) stories so exciting and full of magic.

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