I started a novel, last year. Yes, I really am one of ‘those awful people’, as I was once dubbed in an interview for a travel company, by a man in a pink designer shirt and numerous gold rings.
It all started when I found out about NaNowriMo, (National Novel writing Month) I thought, “Yes! This will give me the peer pressured environment I need to actually get something written down!”.
To be fair, it’s not like I haven’t written before. I did (most of) an English and creative writing degree at uni, and even wrote a 289 page novel about vampires when I was 13, which, after reading Stephanie Meyers ‘work’, I could probably have gotten published. Instead I re-read it with embarrassment at 16 and threw it away! all I remember now is the characters had awesome names like Saxifrage and Roux, not boring ones like Edward.
Anyway, NaNoWriMo worked, I got my 67,000 words, but then it ended, and I was bereft. Where was the moral and technical support from thousands of random participants on the internet? Where was NaNoWriYear?
It didn’t help that I changed my plot half way through, so the frst 20,000 words were now irrelevant anyway. Still I have been plodding on, and have now gotten to the stage where I could type it up and it would read like a complete novel, which I have tentatively started doing. Unfortunately I cannot write fiction when typing, I must have pen (black) and paper (thin lines or plain pages).
The problem I now have, is that I have to research it more thoroughly, to make it historically accurate. Sounds boring, but, actually, it’s too interesting! Every day I start with a plan to research, say, food in the restoration period, and end up reading “The Strange and wonderful history of Mother Shipton with all her famous prophecys, shewing how they have all along been fulfilled to this very year” (1686). Or ‘THE FIRST BOOKE of the Naturall and Morall Historie of the East and West Indies’ (1604).
Interesting, yes, (at least I think so) but not what I was meant to be doing! I’ve started gathering all the interesting bits into various documents; one for names, ones for places, a folder of Newspaper clipping files, a folder of artwork. Now I have this distracting treasure trove of good ‘stuff’, and have been trying my hardest to not get sidetracked by it.
This morning, I decided that I WOULD let myself get sidetracked by it – BUT – only for a couple of hours a day.
So my side-project was born, a group of short stories to which I can turn to in times when my novel is the last thing I want to look at, but I don’t want to not do ANY writing. After all, what time is better for writing a novel than when you are unemployed? Endless days of nowhere to go (and no money to go anywhere), and that melancholy sense of isolation that has leant itself to such good writing in many authors…
Am I the only person who feels like this? Does anyone else get up, stare at their novel and think how much they would do anything NOT to have to re-write chapter 18 AGAIN, and wants to curl up in a ball in the corner for a few weeks every time you realise your plot has a small flaw or something you wanted to use wasn’t available in the time period you’re writing about? (Take Pianos for example, who knew they were such a recent invention?!)
Am I the only one who when telling someone you’ve been busy writing, lets those skeptical eyebrows and the “oh, really? Right.” – from people who have no idea how difficult writing a (good) novel is, and have never even bothered tot hink about it – get to them? Making me feel as though I should whack 80,000 words out in a month of evenings and get it published right away, or give up?
Ah well, I think I’m in a bit of a mood today. I was so tired last night I had a dream about going to sleep…
To finish, here is a useful recipe I think we could all do with in our lives from 1591;
To Bake a Pig like a Fawne
Sley him when he is in the haire, season it with pepper and salt, cloves and mace, take Claret wine, Clergious, Rosewater, Cinamon, Ginger and Sugar, boyle them togither, laye your Pig flat like a Fawne or a kidde, and pour your soup onto it and swaet butter, and so bake it leisurely.
Erm, maybe next week.
And here is an account of perhaps the most famous of Mother Shipton’s predictions:
When it was reported that Cardinal Wolesley intended to live at York, she publickly said ‘He should never come thither’ which reaching his ear, and being much offended, he caused three lords to visit her, who came disgused to Ring House near York, where leaving their men,they took a guide, who knocked at mother Shipton’s door. She cried out within ‘Come Mr Beasty’ (their guide) ‘and those other lords with you’. which much surprized them that she should know them, for when the entered she called them by their names and treated them with ale and cakes, where upon one of the lords said ‘if you knew our errand, you would not make so much of us, for you said the Cardinal would not see York’.
‘No’, says she, ‘I said he might see York, but never come at it.’
‘Well’ sais the lord,’ when he does come you shall be burnt’. Then taking off her linen kerchief from her head she sais ‘if this burns, then I may burn’ and immediately flung it in the fire, and after quarter of an hour, took it out, upon which it was not so much as singed. Upon which one of the Lords asked her what she made of him ‘My Lord’ said she ‘the time is coming when your grace will be as low as I am, and that is a low one indeed.’ Which was true, for shortly after the lord was be-headed.
Nor was her speech of the cardinal less verified, as he coming to Cawood, asked where York was, and it being shewn to him, said ‘there is a witch who said I should never see York’. ‘Nay’ sais one present ‘his eminence is misinformed. She said you may see York, but never come at it.’
the cardinal vowed to burn her when he came there, which was but only 8 miles distant, but was immediately sent back for by the King, and died of a violent Looseness at Leicester.
I think the last bit is my favourite.