Simply put, a breadmaker works like this: flour and yeast goes in - bread comes out. Warm, smelling delicious and ready to eat. Now you might be wondering what all this has to do with writing and romance. Good point. I'm getting there, honest. Because here's the catch: as wondrous as the breadmaker undoubtedly is, the magic doesn't happen instantly. Flour to bread takes just about three hours, and if you try and rush the process, the goods just aren't up to scratch.
And this is much like writing a novel (see, told you I'd get there).
I've spent the past few months immersed in my #BeachBum world, trying to mould Rachel and Leo's story out of the myriad ideas, emotions and hunches I'd been scribbling in my notebook. And now that I've woven their lives together into a somewhat coherent narrative, they need a break.
Like leaving the bread to prove, a stage which if skipped leads to a heavy, unpleasant loaf, I have to leave my characters to rest, to mature without me. And I have to give myself space, time and distance from them, to see their flaws and their strengths, and the many, many repeated words that undoubtedly litter their story. So while the story's out with my fab critique partner and beta readers, I'm not looking at it. It's the longest time that I've spent without these two characters in my life for months, and I have to admit to finding it a little strange. All the time, though, more ideas for them are occurring to me, and other stories, some which I've put on semi-permanent rest, are trying to inveigle their way into my mind, making me look ahead to a time when Rachel and Leo are truly done, and I'm ready to move on.
In the meantime, I'm looking forward to that first read back, when I get to re-familiarise myself with the #BeachBum world, and being able to see with fresh eyes exactly where I need to take their story. Accompanied by tea and a couple of slices of home-made toast, no doubt.