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.

Comments

  1. My novel writing is more like a tempoary stream - sometimes it surges forth and sometimes there's just some sticky mud.

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  2. That's a great description, Patsy. I like it :)

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  3. I enjoyed your beautiful description, Nicola, especially as web-spinning is a motif in my novel, in which the narrator views her changing world via her fascination with the way different spiders spin.

    I agree that the writing process is very similar to the painstaking way a spider works, with the same intensity, intricacy and - hopefully - beauty. x

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    1. Thank you, Joanna. Your novel sounds interesting. That's definitely going on my 'must read' list. All the best!

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  4. I read this with interest, Nicola. Such lovely imagery - very appropriate, too. I will be plunging into the editing process very soon and I will keep your ideas in my head. Thank you!

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    1. Thank you for such a lovely comment, Susanna and thank you for popping by. Great to 'meet' you. I must say, I actually loved the editing process and hope you enjoy it too. All the best.

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  5. After your kind comment on my blog (thank you), I went in search of your blog. I enjoyed reading this post and you've given me much food for thought. I reflect on my writing (and areas to improve) by reading. Analysing how writers I admire construct their books has helped me tremendously.

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    1. Thank you for visiting, Jen. I'm glad you enjoyed my post. That's also a great way to reflect. We can learn so much from other writers. Hope to see you again soon :)

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  6. I love the idea of a spider's web of writing, but I'm not as organized and methodical as our eight-legged friends. I'd describe my stories more as patchwork quilts with random ideas cut, twisted and shaped until they somehow fit together.

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    1. What a lovely viewpoint, Linda. Thank you for popping by and sharing.

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  7. A lovely post, Nicola. I love the imagery of a spider's web of writing. I can see why these beautiful pictures have inspired you. I shall bear your ideas in mind as I begin editing my novel in the new year. Thank you.

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    1. Thank you, Jan. Reflecting on the novel writing process was quite emotional for me but what an achievement. Can't believe I can now say, "I've written a novel." Have learned so much - onwards and upwards from here :) Good luck with your editing.

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  8. Lovely post, Nicola. If you're novel's written so beautifully I'm sure it will be a success.

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  9. What a lovely thing to say. Thank you so much, Sally. I am keeping everything crossed :)

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  10. Hi Nicola .. it is good to reflect and learn, and a spider's web has a mass of connections - exactly liked you'd need in a novel ... I expect you've learnt way more than you think. There are some great resources in the blogging community and though I'm not an author as such I'm always interested in people's approach.

    Good luck and enjoy the journey along your 2nd novel's path .. cheers Hilary

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  11. Thanks for the encouragement Hilary. So pleased you visited. Please pop by again. All the best!

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  12. What a fabulous analogy, Nicola. Now I know what I'm doing wrong!

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