Writing a book part 20: traveling through space and time
Having visited Jerez last month, I am now writing the parts of the book set in that region, which means going back to earlier chapters. It also means going back in time, since the story tracks a sherry producer from the 1930s to the 2000s. Getting the historical details right is not easy, which generally means I am omitting anything about which I'm uncertain.
This feels sort of lazy, because it means I'm not doing the extra research required to provide the sort of detail that can really make a difference in the best novels. I don't want my settings to appear superficial - but then again, I don't want to spend any more time researching at the moment; I would rather get a complete first draft finished before the end of this year, and then add further details in a second draft, if necessary.
Even so, it has been slow progress recently. I had a week off writing while abroad and it has taken a few days to get back into the swing of things. Also, I entered a competition with an adapted version of the novel's first chapter, which didn't get shortlisted - perhaps inevitable among 1,000 entries, but still a bit of a blow. You can read my entry here.
It's also surprisingly easy to veer off the timeline and story development I have set myself. There are a few moments when I've confused the time of year by citing incongruous weather or the like - daffodils blooming in June, that sort of thing. This should be easily avoided, because everything is mapped out logically in my wall of Post-it notes, so it's worrying that it happens at all.
Novelists often talk about being immersed in their world, of intimately knowing their characters, locations and timings. I feel like I am still getting to know what happens in my book as I write it.