I haven’t been inspired to blog for quiet sometime, perhaps because most of last year I wrote very little fiction. I was writing, just not fiction. In the first half of the year I took a class in Creative Non-fiction, or the “Art of the Personal Essay”. Good grief it is hard to dredge up twenty-year-old memories of a school trip to Russia, then try to write an engaging, fun essay about it! (It was as engaging, fun trip that involved a lot of sauerkraut for us non-meat eaters, but it was also eye opening and remarkable and — looking back with adult eyes — a huge privilege to travel to Russia so soon after the fall of Communism!) But, I actually felt for the the younger students in my class who were not even twenty-years-old … at least I have twenty(and thirty, and almost forty)-year-old memories to go digging about in, no matter how spotty the details are! The second half of last year was spending working on an length literary essay on the novel Trumpet by Jackie Kay. I loved doing the work, but I can safely say it put paid to any thoughts of going off to do my masters in literature. At this point in my life, I don’t want to eat into family time to study other people’s novels, I want to spend that time away from the hubs and the girl writing my own novel!
Which brings me to my 2017 challenge. I have set myself the goal of having a complete 250ish page first draft of a novel written by the end of the year. Things have just fallen into place for this to be the “right” year to concentrate on doing this challenge. Firstly, I’m getting to take a class on novel writing from a professor that I throughly respect. Deadlines are my friend — and although I can at times fake myself out with personal deadlines, deadlines set by other people are, without doubt, the best motivator for my productivity. So it is thanks to that class that I have written 80 pages so far this year.
***Can I just take a little aside to say, good lord writing a novel is hard! I can bash out a 1500-2000 story without too much sweat these days. But writing 80 pages — making those characters move from scene to scene, getting those characters to be where they need to be — it is hard! I now have a new appreciation for anyone that can put enough words down on pages to get a novel length story. That isn’t to say I have a new appreciation of every novel that gets published, I don’t, but that is a whole other
rant blog post.***
Secondly, I have treated myself to an early birthday and booked myself on a writers retreat at Moniack Mhor, Scotland’s Creative Writing Center. The idea of being in the wilds of Scotland for five days with, literally, nothing to do but write and learn from accomplished authors is pretty much bliss wrapped up in chocolate. And further, this workshop is specifically for people who have substantial works in progress. Deadline #2. I’ll need to get my derrière in gear to get the page count up – I’m thinking 200ish is a good target.
Thirdly, my baby girl is growing up and will be starting full time school come August. This frees up my days a lot, and as I won’t be in a position to start looking for work outside the home until summer of 2018 — I owe it to myself to grab this time and make it count. Why can’t I start work for at least another year, I hear you ask? Well, that is the forth reason this is the “right” year to tackle a novel. My professor husband has been granted sabbatical for the academic year of 2017-2018 and we are taking this chance to go live in Scotland as a family for an extended period. I’m excited on so many levels — I haven’t lived at home in over a decade, I haven’t lived close to family in as long, I miss the hills, and the sea, and the cities — so many reasons. I’m also excited (and a bit terrified) cause this is the only time I will have this sort of time on my hands, with family nearby for sharing in the parental duties, to dedicate to writing my first novel. It is this year that I will discover if being an author is what I am, or if it is a daydream that will forever live in a montage in my head. Eck!