It turns out it's easier to work in little chunks at the plotting stage. I sat down yesterday and the day before, and wrote some very brief notes for the next three books I want to work on. (How ambitious of me!) One has been simmering away in the back of my mind for at least eighteen months, and the characters are already talking to me in little bursts, while the other was an idea triggered by something I heard on the radio four days ago, and is the barest bones and 'what if's?
It's quite fascinating to have them there on the screen, now, each grown to a different depth according to how long it's been since their conception. I wrote them down partly to clarify my thinking on each, and partly to decide which one to begin with, but it turns out there isn't a choice. It would be counter-intuitive to leave the one which has been languishing to sit it out on the shelf for another couple of years. I've been aching to get at it, and I can't be unfair and bypass it now. It still intrigues me and interests me, and there are still so many questions to answer about the characters and plot that I can hardly wait to start.
And sitting on the end of the desk is the printed out manuscript of my other book, waiting for me to read through. I think Jurgen Wolff recommends the first read through should be an overview, without making notes or getting hung up on grammar or any other finer points. I'm going to re-read the relevant parts of his helpful book before I start, to help me to focus on improving it in the most efficient way. But I think I'll find it very taxing not to go through it with a red pen, immediately striking out huge parts and writing helpful critiquing comments in the margins, such as 'This is dross!'
It's encouraging to think that, with a maternity leave looming, there are parts of my writing life that I may just be able to keep up with, even in the first few weeks. (Ambitious and delusional - what a combination!)