The Butterfly Mind

Sound the trumpets! Hoist the flags! Pop the champagne! My second novel is finished! (Or as finished as it can be, given that the lot of the writer is constantly to edit, tweak, substitute words, rearrange sentences, cut bits and add bits... for goodness sake, why can't we just let it go?) I am well aware, of course, that my first novel is still doing the rounds, trying to find a publisher, but we can't let a little thing like that stop us from forging ahead with other projects, now can we?

To give it its due, this current manuscript should rightly be referred to as the first, as the early part of it was written a good many years before its younger sibling, but way back then it was, at 45,000 words, novella length. I sent it to an agent who liked it, but asked for substantial rewrites which I felt I simply did not have the time to do, what with trying to forge a career in the theatre and everything. So it got shelved, something that now, of course, I bitterly regret, as had I stuck with it I might have had a writing career much earlier.  Hey ho. Still, it has now been expanded to the length of a novel (I had always intended to write a sequel, and to that end had left the novella deliberately open-ended, so all I have done now is to incorporate the 'what happened next' follow-up into the body of the piece, creating what I hope is a more satisfying whole.) So with everything crossed, I will now send this one out into the world to see whether it will fly.

Anyhow, what I really wanted to talk about today is a phenomenon which seems to have increased in frequency rather alarmingly as I am moving towards my dotage: the butterfly mind. To be fair, I have always been one to flit from one thing to the next, often becoming restless and feeling the need to move on, always challenging myself to try something new. (Hence, I suppose, this latest venture into the world of authorship. Even though writing has been something I have always done, especially for the theatre, this is really the first period in my life when I have taken fiction writing seriously.) But now I detect a new, altogether problematic trait is rearing its ugly head. In short, I find my ability to become distracted is scaling new heights.

The phenomenon of entering a room and forgetting what you went in for is commonplace and I, like so many others, have all too often been left scratching my head in frustration while I will my faltering memory to get its act together. But over the last few years I have found that I will enter a room with the intention of doing one thing, only to see something else that needs doing, and attending to that instead. Often to the extent where I forget the first task completely. In everyday life, this can be extremely irritating (especially for those long-suffering individuals who have to cope with me... and yes, I'm thinking particularly about my poor wife here) and necessitates the formation of countless 'to do' lists to keep me on track. (Though as newer, more pressing additions to the list inevitably get done first, there are certain jobs that are destined to remain on the list for far, far longer than was ever my intention. Such, I'm afraid, is the reality of life.)

So when it comes to my writing, it will come as no surprise that I have multiple ideas racing around my head at any one time, all clamouring for attention, and several writing projects on the go at once. Which is why the final completion of a novel-length piece of work is such a cause for celebration. I just hope that it finally finds it way onto the bookshelves and you all get the chance to read it.

Now that really will be a cause for celebration.

PS... In other news, I have just taken delivery of a box of contributor's copies of a beautifully produced little hardback book entitled 'Dorset Shorts', an anthology of new work by Dorset-based writers in which I have a little story and which will be available to buy from April 16th. (If you're desperate to get your hands on a copy and can't track one down, let me know and I'll sort one out for you.)


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