Monday, September 24, 2007

Is this where it starts, then?

Well, not quite.

It actually started about eighteen months ago when my friend, let's call her "Jane", suddenly admitted that she was writing a novel. It was then that I remembered that I too was writing a novel, although I hadn't looked at it for a long time. (So long, in fact, that I had to retype it all - the BBC Micro no longer being my computer of choice.)

So, unless I'm prepared to go right back to the very start (which I'm not, because my memory absconded when my first child was born), it started in March 2006 with 20K words of a novel that I hadn't looked at for over ten years.

Jane, in fact, turned out to be writing a trilogy, of which she had completed only the first 250,000 words (a fantasy trilogy, you understand). She instantly put my meagre jottings to shame, and I determined to prove that I was worthy to sit at her kitchen table, drinking tea, and talking about Writing.

Nine months later (I don't seem to be able to gestate anything in less than nine months), the first draft was ready for editing. I spent a further three months loving it, hating it, and ignoring it in turns, before finally submitting it. It was dreadful, of course, and my wall is now papered with rejection letters, but it got me off the sofa, and into the study.

And so, as the novel disappeared into the clutches of the Royal Mail, I settled down to wait for my Marvellous Manuscript to be considered by the Great and the Good. I kept myself busy by producing another child, and seeing if I could keep its siblings from feeding it too many raisins. Jane, seeing that I had nothing better to do, suggested that I write some short stories in my copious spare time.

It was a terrible idea, and one for which I will never forgive her. Having just spent nearly a year in front of the computer, I was looking forward to spending some time refocussing my eyes. I also felt the need to ask the man who lives in my house what his name is (I knew it once). But, sadly, I still haven't had the chance.

Six months on, my Marvellous Manuscript is now scrap for Jane's kids to scribble on, the first three chapters of the second novel lie lonely somewhere deep in the harddrive, and my husband has started to cook his own meals.

I now sit, awaiting the acceptance or rejection of my first batch of shorties. I sent a dozen out to various women's magazines at the end of August, and now jump every time the phone rings. Usually, it's just Jane to ask if I've got any spare chocolate (she should know better); but I do, at least, now have a certain sense of anticipation with which to greet each day. The arrival last week of an acknowledgement card from The People's Friend caused much excitement. 'They've opened the envelope!'

It remains to be seen what they did with the contents.

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