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Wednesday, 26 October 2011


Monday will see me beginning to write a novel. Now I've posted this fact, I cannot change it. I aim to write between 500 and 1000 words a day, using the afternoons. Mornings are reserved for short stories. I'm usually all written out by evening, but I might consider burning the midnight oil sometimes.

I can imagine that, halfway through the novel, I shall find it hard to let it go to bed. It will have a human shape by then. It will be breathing. Asking questions. Having tantrums. Saying why? Maybe panting and sweating. Attempting to resume unfinished conversations with me. Making me laugh. Making me sing. Making me cry. (Hopefully.)

I know vaguely what it will be about and I know three characters and some of the setting. I know the kind of language I want to use. I know I want to be sparing with the vocabulary, less wordy and pompous than I can be. I like Susan Hill's style of writing. Fresh and clean, but with the occasional metaphor that takes your breath away. I would like parts of it to be poetic, delicate, beautiful, and for these to be threaded in. I want to write in my own voice, but for it to work at its best all the time, every word.

It's no wonder I've put this off. I might be far too lazy to achieve all that. I want rather a lot. But I know what I don't want. I don't want to go into it half-heartedly or treat it like an elongated short story. This is different and I hope I'm ready for it. I have the time and I definitely have the inclination.

I might need some stronger contact lenses (too much hunching and peering like an old crone again) and I might need to clean out the Ryvita crumbs from my keyboard. And then I'll be more than ready.

All last night, especially at around 4am, I kept seeing scenes, imagining the setting. It's about a family with secrets. And I love the fact that all the secrets are in my own imagination. I only know one of them. That unlocked itself yesterday on a train from Cardiff to Cheltenham, with my daughter and I sitting unlawfully in First Class. (There were only three carriages and it was vertical sardines everywhere. Didn't they realise it's half-term? We were very tired and wanted to read our new books. And there was this empty and rather nice First Class carriage and a very cross guard who shook his head at us, but let us stay put until some of the sardines peeled off at Newport and we hot-footed it into an empty pair of seats in the normal carriage - the one with the rain leaking through the ceiling panels...) The rest of the secrets will emerge today (even without the marvellously atmospheric Great Western train to inspire me) and tonight. I can feel it...

I promise the novel won't have any parentheses.


  1. Oh, I love stories with secrets, Joanna! All the very best with your novel and schedule - at least you'll know I'm slaving away with my novel too during NaNo (in between gallavanting to various comittments)!

  2. Thank you, Rosemary. I am very excited about starting and it will help a lot to think of you doing the same. I'm sure it will spur me on! Good luck!

  3. Good luck Joanna! But what with you, and then so many people off NaNoWriMo-inng there'll be no-one left to talk to!

  4. Thank you, Frances. I shall definitely still be here to talk to, possibly more than ever, as I intend to weld myself to my lap-top. But I worry that my backside will spread as a result of too much sitting!

  5. It's always exciting to be starting a new project. Good luck, and hope you enjoy it.

  6. Thank you Joanne. I am very excited and hope I live up to my own expectations. My stumbling block is impatience. I can't imagine still working on it months from now. But, once I've become better acquainted with the characters, i shall be all right and hopefully will want to stay with them for as long as it takes.

  7. Oh so apposite for your comment on my blog post! I find train journeys inspire my creative mind too. Good luck.

  8. Nice blog....terrific posts.

    NEW follower.

    I am stopping by from the Top Writing Blog competition.

    Just wanted to say hello. This is a great way to find new blogs and visit ones you haven't visited in a while. :)

    Elizabeth - Silver's Reviews