Friday, 21 January 2011

The art of distraction

One thing has become abundantly clear to me this week as I have set about starting this huge task I have set myself, and that is how good I am at avoidance techniques.

It is strange how appealing the washing up, ironing, even cleaning the toilet, have become when faced with sitting down at the computer and writing. The aforementioned are all tasks that I usually loathe and put off at all costs but when faced with a blank computer page, they suddenly seemed far more attractive.

However, I am pleased to report that I have not been completely wasting my time whilst indulging(!) in household chores. All the time I was scrubbing and mopping, I was also plotting and scheming as gradually, characters started to form in my mind. So much so, that I feel as if I already know my heroine as well as myself, in fact she be my new best friend (just as well, perhaps, given the amount of time we are going to be spending together).

By the time, I did get down to sitting at my desk, I pretty much knew, not only who my characters were, but what is going to happen to them (that’s not to say that they won’t be taken in a completely different direction at a later stage, but that surely is the fun of it, it’s a mystery to me and them).

I have a title and an outline of my novel. I have also sketched out the characters and written a list of proposed chapters, scenes and events I am planning to include. It doesn’t feel like huge progress but it is a start.

Next week will be challenging as I have several articles to research and write as well as ferrying the children around in what promises to be, an impossibly busy few days. However, I am looking forward to building on these foundations and actually start the process of writing chapter 1.

Now where did I put that duster and polish?

Wednesday, 12 January 2011

A very public resolution

New Year is traditionally a time to take stock. To look back on our successes and failures and think about what steps we can take to fulfil the goals we have yet to reach.

Every January, I say that this will be the year I pen that novel.

And every December, I wonder where the time went and why I haven’t got past the first few chapters.

That is not to say that I haven’t been writing at all. In previous years, I have promised myself that I will follow my dream and do what I enjoy. This has yielded some success but not in the direction that I originally planned to go. I have had many articles published and until recently was the Editor of a parenting magazine. I have edited, ghostwritten, proofread and polished all kinds of manuscripts for other people. 

But I have yet to write that novel.

I have started many times. I have spent long hours slumped over the computer dreaming up plots and breathing life into characters who, for a time, become my imaginary best friends. I have written synopses, detailed plans and sample chapters and on one occasion, even got so far as to approach prospective publishers. I am an excellent ‘starter’ but I have yet to complete a book.

Which brings me to the purpose of Novelist in the Making. Last year, I was asked if I would write a blog for a parenting website and, after much deliberation, Mum in the Middle ( came into being. At first I found the idea of an online journal that, by definition, had to be updated regularly, rather daunting but it has proved to be a valuable learning platform. Having a blog has taught me the discipline of writing on regular basis, the value of keeping a notebook in which to jot down thoughts and ideas and, possibly the most useful lesson of all, how to write for an audience. Knowing that other people are going to be reading your work and commenting on it makes you think much more carefully about the content. 

Blogging is a public domain and if your blog is to be successful you need readers and, in that respect, it is perhaps not so very different from being a novelist (or indeed any other kind of writer). For me, the main purpose of this blog is to keep me motivated. Having publically announced my intention to finally write that book, I will be much more likely to keep going. And if I ever feel tempted to give up and forget the whole, crazy, hare-brained scheme, I will (hopefully) have a whole online community to help me get back on track (or else face the shame and humiliation of failure).

So, here it is - a blog about the process of writing a novel from inception to publication (now there’s a dream). I may not be the first and I definitely won’t be the last but with your help, I might just get to finish that book.

Kim Kimber