My sister and I used to spend a lot of time with my Auntie Nellie in the school holidays. Which was brilliant, because she always had something exciting planned - a bus trip, a visit to the fair, or to the races. But the North East weather often threw a spanner in the works. It rarely looked promising at seven in the morning. We would hop about on the back step, trying to work out whether the weather was going to spoil our fun. Auntie Nellie would always call out, around her first fag of the day, 'Is there enough blue to make a waistcoat?' We would dutifully inspect the sky. If we thought there was enough blue showing through the clouds to cover our skinny torsos, Nellie would take a leap of faith, and take us out anyway. Nine times out of ten it worked out fine.
Which is a bit like writing a novel, really. Having just finished 'An Act of Kindness'* I've been hopping about on my metaphorical back step, wondering whether to start the next one. I have a working title - 'A Beast of the Field' - I know who Pilgrim's main adversary is going to be, where and why the first murder is committed. I know what the main sub-plot is, and how it will tie into the main plot. But do I know enough to make a start?
I'm not the kind of writer who has to have everything planned meticulously in advance - every twist and turn, every cough and fart. I'd bore myself witless before I got quarter of the way through. But I still need to know enough to take that leap of faith and start writing.
Do I have enough to make a waistcoat?
I'm not sure yet. My torso is - sadly - quite a bit bigger than it used to be. Perhaps I need to keep looking at the sky for a little while longer?
* ok, not finished exactly. There's still a lot to do, but I have to admit to myself that I've got as far as I can without editorial help.