In 2008 I decided I wanted to write a novel. I was running low on unread Agatha Christie books and thought Welp! better write my own! I love me some crime fiction, and yet it’s so hard for me to find a crime novel I actually enjoy. I’m in love with those cozy mysteries from the Golden Age of detective fiction, where there was a limited pool of suspects, an assortment of clues and red herrings and someone to wrap it all up beautifully at the end. What I don’t love is the more modern ‘thriller’ angle of an alcoholic, divorced, world-weary cop with a strained relationship with his daughter. Almost every crime novel blurb I read in bookstores advertises ‘the most gruesome murder of Detective Sad-Sack’s career’. And you can bet the murderer’s next target is about to be Detective Sad-Sack!
Anyway, I’ve been side-tracked. I wanted to write the type of novel I liked to read. That makes sense. I came up with (what I thought to be) a rather ingenious plot with a clever murder and enjoyable characters. I was so pleased with myself. The only thing left was to write the bloody thing.
I meandered and procrastinated and did little actual writing. I thought up a bunch of plots for other mysteries until I finally sat myself down and said ‘listen boy-o, why don’t we actually finish this one before we start the next twenty?’
‘It’s too hard’, I replied, and I sent myself to my room without any supper.
I’ve side-tracked myself again. What I’m trying to say is I found out that the writing process is actually quite tricky. It takes a lot of dedication and persistence. And writing. I got about half-way through the novel and hit a slump. I had meticulously planned everything up until then and didn’t know what to write now that I was in unfamiliar territory. I left it.
After sulking around crying about how ‘I don’t know what happens next!’ I decided to bite the bullet and actually WRITE what happens next. That worked surprisingly well. I stuck to a writing plan. I wrote every morning for at least an hour. Two if I had time. In that time I had to get at least four A4 pages of writing. And it worked.
I wish I’d kept a better diary of the process but while the idea for my novel was fleshed out in late 2008, I think I didn’t really start writing until 2010. Then I got stuck. I wrote the second half in 2011/2012. Now the first draft is done. I’ve read through it and admitted it needs serious rewriting. (That’s what second drafts are for!) But I’m excited. I’m determined that I’ll have the second draft done by the end of the year. And it will be good. And I will love it. And I’m going to be such a wonderful and successful author. (Perhaps)