Web of Reflection
As I began the process of planning and outlining my second novel, I thought it necessary to reflect on the journey of my first. How did I do it? What mistakes did I make and how can I improve the process?
I likened my journey to that of a spider building its web. I threw out a single thread – my initial idea – and waited patiently for it to stick to a surface. This first strand of silk was to form the solid foundation of the story and had to be strong. After talking through my idea with a good listener who was a reliable critique, my plot was formed.
Then the fun began. I negotiated the sturdy tight-rope in a slow crawl, adding additional layers as I went: forming characters and their individual stories and developing the underlying message of my novel. The added silk threads, radiating round the plot, strengthened the web as I worked.
On occasion, when my confidence dipped or my focus strayed, a thread would break. But, just like a spider, I looked at my developing web, believed in the strength of that first strand and fixed the problem. After ten months of determined grit and perseverance, the centre of my web was complete – the story brought to a climax and the initial problem resolved.
Then the painstaking task of testing the strength of my design began. Bouncing on each thread to ensure it was stable and did the job it was supposed to do. During this editing process, there were weaknesses and the spinneret glands got to work to fix the problem – adding stronger threads to replace the flawed ones. Unlike a spider, once complete, I couldn’t bring myself to settle in the centre of my design and have a nap. I had to start a new project and move on.
This reflection took place over my first hot cup of tea on an autumnal morning in the back garden of my mother’s Herefordshire home. The irony of it was that I don’t care for spiders, but I was fascinated by the beautiful, structured work that stood out with such prominence and grace – I hope my novels will look so distinctive in book shops. Rather than run a mile from the eight legged creature, I stopped, soaked in the sculpted form and was able to relate. Who’d have thought it?
By allowing myself to be inspired by a wonderful act of nature, I was able to identify areas for improvement for forthcoming writing work and am convinced that reflection is an invaluable writing tool. I would be interested to know how you reflect and if you use a similar method.