[This needs some links in, which I'll do later]
I suppose this needs a little contextualising. A year last Christmas I decided that I'd been writing nothing but non-fiction for too long and - to borrow a line about Larkin in his later years - I was putting all of my creativity into minutes. Taking photos
helped, but there was that bit of me that wanted to be a novelist. I'd written two novels in my late teens, which I probably have the handwritten forms of somewhere, and I'd even sent a chapter off to Gollancz. But since then I'd not got further than a few chapters.
So that Christmas I decided to get back to it, and draw upon some of my experiences, and go for it. Perhaps over ambitiously I wanted it to be four overlapping narratives - I'd just seen Twenty Thousand Streets Under the Sky
- and I set myself a target of 500 words a day, which would take me up to mid-July. Of course I couldn't afford the time, but sometimes you need to do it for yourself. I also had someone who was enthusiastic to read it, and I ploughed through to finish in June.
I knew I wasn't finished with the setting and the characters, and I'd want to go back. National Novel Writing Month comes at the wrong time (I was deep in minutes) and things like Novels in Ninety felt too public. Someone suggested people wrote a novel in a weekend - in homage to Moorcock - but it was the wrong weekend. I rushed to get a second draft of The Four Loons
complete by the end of the year, but I knew any sequel would impact back on it.
Write it at Easter, I thought, but I need an idea.
The basics were there within an hour. One of my four focal characters from Loons
had spent a numbers of years away - perhaps in prison, perhaps on the run. I'd dropped hints about what he had done before he vanished, but I was unclear of the mechanics. From the hints that were there, it was obvious that there was a story to be told. I didn't want a single viewpoint character, and I didn't want omniscient, so I fixed on two story arcs, one in the first person, one in the third, but focalised on the first person narrator. I wanted the counterpoint between the two voices.
I jotted down twenty four chapters titles and a sentence for each one, and even wrote a first line - "I nearly lost my fingers in a till when I was seven." - then let it percolate for sixty days. I'm mad, but I did the sums. If I have four days to write 100,000 words that's 25,000 a day, and in three four-hour shifts, that's just over 2,000 an hour, 35 words a minute. I can type thirty-five words a minute.
No, but the point is to put down a marker that will take the rest of the year to be rewritten, and I can go back to the Loons
and head off continuity issues, and even think about sending it off somewhere. But can I make it.( Good Friday )( Friday pm )( Friday Night )( Saturday )( Saturday Afternoon )( Saturday Evening )
Further updates will be here
- it may be Monday or evening Tuesday before I summarise the second half.