A book is a web that becomes a thread, or a series of threads that becomes a rope, which might then open up into a web again. It’s weird but I pretty much know a book is a book rather than a short story from the first sentence.
I have written two novels that came from short stories, and the shorts exist very much in a different place that is bigger and smaller than the novels: By that I mean that the novels map more of that space, the short stories offer more space to the reader to fill in their own world. Cracks and Day Boy are the short stories (both were shortlisted for Aurealis Awards, and Cracks won for best Young Adult. Day Boy didn’t but it grew into a novel, and that won two Aurealis Awards, so there you go).
In my experience, books are big things written in small spaces. Some writers have bags of time - I mean regularly more than an hour a day. But I write books in the interstices. So that means, perhaps, listening to Word read me the book on the way to work (an unsettling thing, but you get used to) and scrawling something down in the brief moments I get when I put my bag down before opening the shop, or just ruminating over what I have heard.
It means writing a sentence that’s banging around my head on the bus.
It means nipping off down to the shed to write for twenty minutes after dinner, bath time and bedtime for my daughter, if I’m not completely exhausted.
It means writing a few sentences or expanding a scene, or clarifying a description in bed.
All those little spaces are an act of discipline, and they open up to big spaces (sometimes).
I’m lucky that my brain lets me do this (sometimes).
I see the world through stories. It’s what I delight in. I’m hardly happier than when I manage to catch one of them. Often they just slip away. It’s makes the ones you catch even more precious.
(I'm writing this while my daughter is having a nap. I know she's about to wake up: adds a nice touch of urgency).
Talking of books, my next one The Giant and the Sea, illustrated by Rovina Cai will be launched at Avid Reader on Wednesday the 27th of May at 6 pm. You can book here, I'd love you to come.