Each week I have a small panic about this novel. I have no idea what happens next! But as you can see, each week I manage to produce another chapter. The other day a vicar asked me how on earth I managed to do it. 'The way you manage to write a sermon,' I replied. 'But what if you can't think of anything?' he said. Then he answered his own question: 'You do, because you've got to.' The deadline, the event, is what ensures you deliver the goods.
It could be that by writing a weekly column for the Church of England Newspaper for the last two hundred years, I have trained myself to write episodically. This method of blogging a novel now suits my skills. So I'm familiar with the panic. I have no idea what happens next! The solution is: choose something. Anything. Write a bit, and see where it goes. I'm helped by having a skeleton. When all else fails, I can check what's happening in the church calendar. Epiphany. Candlemas. There are also the events of the last week to ransack (the pope resigns!). But most important of all, there are my characters. What are they up to? Where did I leave them, and what, logically, will they do next. By that I don't mean they all act rationally or predictably. Clearly they don't. But their actions are acquiring their own inner logic. Freddie behaves like this because of that. Martin responds like that because of this. And once they have both done the logical thing, certain other courses of action become more or less likely. I am writing to catch up with them, really.
Writing is always a matter of making choices. This word, not that. This scene with these characters, not another scene with different characters. All the time you are closing down one set of possibilities by opening another. Or at any rate, this is what you are doing when you blog a novel a chapter at a time. I can't go back and make Jane twenty years younger, or decide that the dean is a man after all. The big anxiety is that, one word at a time, I am painting myself into a corner. At that point I shall simply say, And then we all woke up, and behold, it was just a dream!