For a few days now, while I’ve been away with friends, one writing topic has been bugging me.
You know, National Novel Writing Month where you spend November in a frizz of anxiety and anticipation, trying to churn out 1667 words a day to write a 50,000 word novel in a month.
I’ve done it twice now and boy do you get a lump of prose out of the machine. I’m not a strict Nanoist so I’m happy to bend the rules but even so the basic premise stands: 50k words in November.
My dilemma? Two fold:
- do I do it at all?
- if so, what story do I write?
1 sort of follows 2. If I’m inspired I’ll do it. That’s where you may be able to help dear readers. I’m considering 4 possibilities and wonder what you think.
- In 2013 I wrote the Miracle on Sydenham Hill, mostly for my kids for Christmas. I used Lulu.com to create six POD versions. This is the synopsis. James Spirit has felt odd since his 14th birthday in October. Now, in the run up to Christmas, with the rain teeming down and South London miserable, he has a feeling something is about to happen. Why is his grandma fixated with her new telescope? What is it about the Romanian women selling the Big Issue near his local railway station that troubles him? Why is his mother acting erratically? And what is going on in the disused railway tunnel under Sydenham Hill that is drawing him there and are there really bats guiding him? With the help of his cousins Liam and Beth and his loyal dog Nightmare he needs to find out. Nano Option one is a sequel. In it we follow James as he hunts out the mysterious past of his grandma. What is in the box left by the strange uncle who appears for her funeral and disappears soon after. How does this tie into the Crystal Palace that was built on Sydenham Hill in 1851 and its destruction in 1931 in an unexplained fire? Tracing links to the mountains of Romania and the sphinx in Egypt, the deep buried past is now rising to the surface.
- In 2014 I followed up my first published novel Dead Flies and Sherry Trifle with a sequel. The time is now 1981 and Harry Spittle is about to qualify as a solicitor. His life is the usual mix of the hopeful and the hapless but at the outset his love life is crumbling yet again. Then he receives an unexpected visit from an old friend with a request. As Harry sets out to try and help his friend while he recaptures Penny’s love and deals with his sexually voracious sister, he finds himself in a web of intrigue that sets him once again on a collision course with his nemesis Claude McNoble. Can Harry save the day and emerge in one piece with his career intact. I never quite finished this first draft but there isn’t enough left to justify a Nano. However only today I read this great post from Jo Robinson on series and the benefits of writing not only the next book but the next but one book at the same time. So should I go on to book three? In this we are now in 1990 and Harry is up for partnership. He has a new rival both for the post of partner and the love of Penny. The trouble is he really likes Jolyon and owes his a rather large debt. Honour and ego look set to clash as the recession bites both nationally and individually. And re emerging into his life is Natalie who appears to have eyes only for Harry. Perhaps it is time to move on?
- In 2006 I wrote my first book, a buddy story with a nasty twist. Three old friends, Chris, Martin and Peter get together in the aftermath of the death of Chris’ wife, Diane. To try and get him away from his misery his two friends persuade him to undertake a walk which they had talked about many years before. As the walk progresses we learn about the secrets that have lain buried and which Diane’s death now disturbs with unexpected and disturbing ramifications. I know the essential story is sound but the writing itself, now some 6 years old, is woeful. Perhaps I should start again and rewrite An Allergy to Friendship from memory?
- None of the above. Maybe I should do something completely new. I’ve always wanted to fictionalise some of my relatives stories into something of a twentieth century epic. It’s 1916 and former cavalry officer, now Major Gerald Le Page of the Northampton Light Infantry Regiment is trapped in a shell hole with one of his men, Private Leon Silverson. A Royal Flying Corps plane takes a hit and crashes close by. The two infantry soldiers manage to rescue the badly injured pilot who is barely alive. In so doing Le Page is injured by a sniper so he stays behind, keeping the pilot going while Silverson goes for help. When helps comes it is not because of Silverson who is to be courtmartialled for apparent desertion. He is pardoned but rather than being grateful resents the (in his eyes) patronising attitude of Le Page. After the war the three men return to their separate lives but their paths continue to cross during the twenties and thirties: Le Page’s business fails in the recession and he is helped by the pilot which he in turns resents. Le Page suspects Silverson’s family to be behind his fall from grace. Each man has a child who’s fortunes and futures are inextricably linked by their fathers’ experiences and which come to a conclusion in the dust and dirt of the confusion of the British Protectorate in Palestine in the lead up to Partition and the creation of Israel in 1948.
Go on, which is it to be? I can’t promise to do what you suggest but I can promise to do something.