I wanted to write a book, that’s all. Just write a book. The need had been mulling around in my head for sometime, so I bit the bullet and started last year around May or June.
I did what a lot of first timers do – I read books by famous authors including P.D James, Elmore Leonard and of course Stephen King’s “On Writing” and thought I can at least try. Not that I thought I could be as good as P.D James or as successful as Stephen King, but I had to be better than some of the guff that I’ve seen printed.
I started the first book set in world devastated by a virus, a space virus, (no Zombies or mutant Vampires – yet). Just ordinary people struggling with a suddenly changed world. But it was taking time, time I found hard to find. Then I found out about NaNoWriMo, and thought it sounded like a grand idea. I signed up, left the first book half finished and began a new one with no idea at all of what was to happen. I made names up as I went along, I invented a fictional town. And just kept on typing. I hit the target of 50,000 words with a couple of days spare – whoop whoop!
That was when the hard work of sifting through all the guff I had written began. It was mixed up and jumbled, like a jigsaw puzzle in a thousand pieces and I had no idea of the final image. Now with Christmas over and a new year well underway, I still don’t have the complete picture, although it is much clearer.
The main story is there, but the detail is missing.
The town I created had to have a population, and people had to be somewhere. So I invented jobs to occupy them during the day and houses for them to in sleep in at night. Not to mention shops and businesses. Soon I needed a map, the map needed street names. I needed more detail. Shops had to have addresses. Even more detail was needed, the inside of shops and homes had to be imagined. Why? After all, most of them won’t appear in the book. Because I had to see what my protagonist is seeing, if he’s looking out the window, and looking at the Post Office which is next to the bakers, and thinking about the lady who runs said Post Office, I can’t very well a few chapters later have the PO on the other side of the street next to an Estate Agents can I? And the lady in the PO needs a character, and relationships. She may only be a very minor character in my story, but her life is very important to her.
In order to try to see the town and some of the inhabitants, that weren’t in the book, I wrote a piece of flash fiction. 1500 words and I asked an editor to take a look. She was very encouraging, and I am indebted to Cat at pinkproof for all her help. More short stories will no doubt emerge as I try to get to grips with my town and the people who inhabit it.
I really thought writing a book would be straight forward. Not easy or simple, but straight forward. How wrong was I?