So I know the big things. But I don't know the little things. I haven't got snatches of dialogue, or a picture in my head of the heroine's home. I don't know most of the characters' names and I'm not really sure what's going to happen on a page-by-page basis.
Discovering these things takes time. I discovered yesterday, for example, that my heroine keeps stashes of chocolate in her house in case her friends come round with a crisis. But that secretly, she comfort-eats it herself when she's alone. The details of her life, and her friends' lives, will emerge as I get the story down into real words, rather than big ideas.
But discovering these things takes more than just writing the real words. It takes lots of staring into space. Walks, and baths, and those five minutes lying in bed while the house is quiet. Empty time. Unfortunately, I've also got a new paperback out which means that every free minute is taken up with promotion, or also obsessively checking Amazon to see if it's selling. My husband isn't working, which is nice because I like seeing him, but is difficult because he assumes that unless I'm typing, I'm free for a conversation about guitars and/or whether we have any cheese. My son's funded nursery hours are stopped for Easter, which is also nice because we get more time together, but I have absolutely zero chance of thinking about anything but him (and Top Gear, and Lego) when he's around.
So I have been cranky. Craving empty time. And not able to appreciate the full time I do have.
Fortunately, next week is my birthday. And as my present, we are going to the seaside for a week. For five days, we'll all be together and I won't be working; it will be pure, guilt-free, family holiday time. And then, on the day after my birthday, my husband and son will go back home and leave me in the cottage on my own, for two days.
Five whole days of full time. And two whole days of empty time.
I can't wait.
How do you snatch your empty, thinking time?