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It wasn't a five year plan

but that does seem to be how it’s turning out…

I really can’t quite believe how well the novel draft is coming along. Considering it had such a slow start – the Prologue was written in something like April of 2009 – the first chapters which I wrote for my Open University assessment piece have been ditched and I started rewriting back in June of this year.

In the big gap in the middle I wrote a few short stories, and occasionally pondered the novel – but I am beginning to suspect that it was playing around at the back of my mind a lot of the time.

I think it needed incubation time.

The story is so much richer and more complex, the characters are more alive, and the hell my poor narrator is descending into is more hellish.

Last week I finally wrote the first draft of the murder scene. This was the image I had in my head since writing the prologue – and much of it was there at the beginning, but some of the details have changed unfathomably. There’s another person present at the scene, for one, a character who seemingly came from nowhere in the middle of nanowrimo, wearing an entirely impractical black and white silk maid’s outfit and carrying a feather duster…

But horrible as this death scene is – it’s not the worst that I have in store for my character. Yesterday I gave her a glimpse of happiness, and today I am starting the process of stripping that all away from her.

It’s a twist on the prisoner’s dilemma. It’s all about having faith and trust tested to the limit. The worst kind of emotional torture, perhaps, because it’s something we do to ourselves. There is no escape, and you can’t just fight or reason your way out of it.

Either you can trust, or you can’t.

I’m beginning to learn to trust, which is interesting really, because I thought it was something I couldn’t do. I gave up writing before, many years ago, because I was too afraid to fail. Now I know that failing is all part of the process, and I don’t mind that any more. It’s just another hint that you need to do something a little differently.

Four years ago, I’d only just started writing again. I wrote a short story, and that first one was shortlisted for the Asham award. I somehow let myself start taking it seriously again and the Open University creative writing courses followed…and I learned a lot from them.

Yet still, I never really imagined I’d have the persistance to get this far. Last year I found an old box filled with my old writing. Some stories I wrote as a teenager. Three or four novels I started and abandoned after only a few thousand words. A few poems…the least said about them, the better. And the diaries…

It really feels possible that by Christmas I will have the first draft of a novel finished. It will probably take me a huge chunk of next year to beat it into some kind of shape.

So, five years…

I’m not bored yet. Although the occasional rejections still have a certain sting…I’m still enjoying every moment.

And that makes me happier than I can possibly express in words.

Ann

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