My Rules for Writing.
I have read many words of advice about where to start, and that first rule, ‘Always write about what you know’ seemed to be a good place. So what did I know? At the start, not much, not enough. I was worried that I would never write something of a serious length before running out of ideas and inspiration. So I just kept reading.
In ‘About’ I’ve written about what started me off on my quest to be a writer. So if I’m going to blame anyone, it will have to be Hyacinthe Rigaud, painter to Louis XlV, and eponymous hero of the museum in Perpignan, France. And at the start, I knew very little about him. Three years ago, I had seen a flyer for the museum in a hotel lobby, and he stared out at me from the artwork. I hoped to visit one day, and then got the opportunity in January 2020.
After the visit, I knew what I wanted to write about, but I also knew I had to find out more. It wasn’t that easy, given that some of the sources were written in French, and others were lengthy. In any event, by the time I had read everything I could get my hands on, I had the inkling of an idea. I didn’t want to do a life story – that had been covered already. I wanted to write fiction, a novel which used Rigaud’s history as a start. After that, I would take up a group of characters and go with them.
Along the way, I discovered that there are all sorts of ways to put off writing. For a start I am a big fan of fountain pens and inks, so despite the fact that I knew I was going to write on a computer, I waited until a new notebook (hardback, squared paper, pen loop, pocket at the back) arrived. Then I could transfer notes on scrappy pieces of paper into this lovely thing, and be organised. The notebook – a glorious thing to write in with my Sailor Pro Gear Slim. The pen makes you work hard to write a beautiful script. But I eventually knuckled down and wrote, and wrote. Then I walked away from it for weeks, and did other things.
I read somewhere quite recently that what I did was actually the best thing I could have done. So phew.