Last week, I finished my first novel. What a privilege to be able to say that. After two and a half years of struggling, dogged, determined hard work … Actually, that’s not true. I know it’s what you’re supposed to say. Any writer worth her salt, these days, seems to want to tell you “it’s such hard work”. But for me, the complete opposite has been true. I have loved every minute of it. It was the previous fifty or so years that were composed of struggling, hard work and pain. From the moment I picked up my pen, at that first writing class, I was hooked.
It didn’t take long for me to develop what they call a writing discipline. Basically, I get up, brew a pot of tea and sit down to write. There, how difficult is that? Admittedly, I don’t have the distractions and responsibilities of a family, or a ‘job’, or any of those grown-up sort of things that other people collect as they go through life. I am, however, often required to negotiate my way around a complex game of ball with my young puppy, as I try to persuade her that hiding said ball under my chair and then barking like crazy is not going to endear her, either to me or the neighbours, at seven o’clock in the morning.
That, generally, is the only obstacle I face, however, before settling to the next hour or so of discovering what my characters will do next. No, I’m not one of those writers who pre-plans their plot, prepares their purlieus or pre-determines the fate of the participants. I don’t write a synopsis, use the snowflake method or even opt for a sketchy first draft to ‘flesh out’ later. Where’s the fun in that?
How can I be creative if I’m already limiting what will happen? In fact, discovering that there were ‘approved’ methods of writing – which happened very quickly after my first naive beginnings – was almost too big an obstacle to overcome. But thankfully, one of the benefits of having those previous fifty or so years in the bank, is that I know the importance of finding my way without resorting to convention.
Is what I’ve produced any good? Well, that remains to be seen. I intend to begin navigating the weird and wonderful world of publishing, soon. Does it matter? Well now, that could be a subject for another blog.
This, you see, is my first.