Today I visited the ice sculpting festival at Canary Wharf and was amazed by the by range of different ideas and designs. I even had a go at creating my own ice polar bear, which wasn’t a total success and has probably already been melted down and refrozen for tomorrow’s amateur sculptors to refashion.
But watching the experts at work reminded me of the process I go through when I’m writing a book. I know what the beginning is and what the end will be, but it is the detail which lies between, the bits and pieces which will connect the two extremes, which remains a mystery. It is only when I start to go through systematically, thinking out what could possibly happen in each scene and how my characters are going to react, that the whole begins to take shape.
At the moment, I’m writing my third murder mystery, No Accounting for Death, and, yet again, Julie, my diffident, cancer victim heroine is battling to make sense of what’s going on around her. My first two books have followed a similar format, at least to my mind, so this time I’m trying to match the setting to Julie’s new found confidence as a minor entrepreneur. I’m pleased that I’ve made significant progress since Christmas, but I’m finding that I’m having to examine each incident closely to make sure it fits in with the whole, and sometimes events take a different direction to the one originally planned.
I found myself wondering how much of this was true with the sculptors. Each one had a sketch showing the desired outcome on display, but surely the drawing didn’t show every single incision or indentation which appeared in the finished work. Sometimes the sculptors used electric saws to achieve the more sweeping curves or to hack away entire sections of ice, but they executed the more delicate touches with slender chisels and even used a hot iron over some surfaces to make them smooth. Different techniques to achieve different effects, just as it is with books.
Today’s sculptures were on the small side – more like short stories, perhaps – but the larger, more epic sculptures should be taking shape tomorrow. I won’t be visiting again, but there is plenty of time for others to visit this more unusual London attraction. And, like a lot of the events featured on this blog, it is entirely free!