Back in January, I penned a blog about being a novice novelist, and kind of wishing that I wasn’t. Nearly three months has passed! Where did the time go? How have I spent it, at least when it comes to the business of writing?
I’d fallen in love with a story that I came across when on holiday in Lanzarote, and for the past three months I have been in major research mode. It’s set back in time, the 18th Century, and therefore I’ve been immersing myself in various texts (and various divergences, as already confessed to). I have chased down many references, and read widely about the period. I’ve made pages of notes, and have raised pages of questions. The internet never ceases to amaze me, and through Project Gutenberg, I’ve been able to read some incredible extracts and books. A copy of the 1824 Encyclopaedia Britannica being a real gem! Google yielded a treasure of a website, giving me some ‘real’ names to draw upon; this has helped me begin to find my characters.
I’d say that in January, my research net was cast fairly widely, with a layer peeled back in February. It was in February that I found the names, and so a hazy cast of characters was drawn. Over the last few weeks I’ve done very little, because we were away in Iceland and then for the last week, we’ve been away babysitting Baby George (our grandson). I’ve been beginning to panic about the book, because I’m not working on it… Despite the fact that I can’t have done because of being busy (the ‘not good enough’ birch twigs are out for self-flagellation), which means the self-doubt looms, and the judge sitting on my left shoulder is chiding me ‘call yourself a writer, pah.’
When I can stop those disruptive thoughts, I realise that it’s like when you’ve formed a new friendship, and you really connect with the person, and somehow you’ve forgotten to call them. I have the shape and form of these people, but I’ve forgotten what they sound like. My mum is on her way for a visit, and I know that I won’t get the chance to do the plotting that I want to, but what I can do is bring them to life again. Call them up, if you like. I have decided that I shall re-read the first person account that got me so interested in the first place, and then read my notes around the characters. I’ll let them come with me this week, as I explore bits of Cornwall with my mum.
I’ve also been thinking about style. I really want to write in the first person, but I think the story will be better served in the third person, so I shall have to save the former technique for another work. I’ve also been thinking about the story itself, and that I’m so determined to have it as a character-lead experience, rather than the events themselves… I much prefer to read this type of book, so I’d better jolly well write it too. Writing book reviews I’m sure has helped me be more critical, and therefore more self-observant.
So, progress does feel a bit slow, but there’s no rush. Life is to be lived, and I’ve had a blast travelling and being Granny. I’m missing my work, but I need to accept that it’s really not that far away, and you can’t do everything!