I have spent the last few days in Leitrim in the West of Ireland where it was very cold indeed but also very beautiful. The house where my parents used to live is up high on a hill and looking out of the window, we watched as an opalescent cloud of freezing fog swallowed up the village at the bottom of the valley and then gradually crept up the hill towards us.
Everything in the path of that cloud emerged coated in a white hoar frost, a landscape magically transformed. Trees suddenly blossomed with ice crystals. Dry stalks of wild Angelica left over from the previous Summer looked like the most beautiful and exotic blooms.
There is no internet connection there and mobile reception is intermittent at best - which can be very helpful when you are trying to think. I spent some of my time there considering what I should write next. For several months now there have been two entirely separate stories clattering around in my head. Suddenly I saw how they might actually be two threads of the same story. Like the landscape over which the mist had moved, the competing narratives in my mind were immediately transformed into something much more powerful, more strange and more compelling for me as an author.
Previously the two separate stories had interested me but not enough for me to engage with them seriously. There was something too familiar about their outcomes: they were encumbered by narratives that I had developed in the past. Now, as they collided so deliciously, redundant chunks of plot broke off and drifted away leaving instead an entirely differently shaped story, one that I could not have predicted and one that I very much wanted to pursue.
It is moments like this, when the narrative creates its own possibilities, that make me love the job of writing fiction