Yesterday, after months of thinking about plot and characters and setting, I finally sat down and wrote the first page of my fledgling novel.
The book has been knocking about inside my mind for a couple of years now. It’s based loosely on the life of my paternal grandmother Grace, who lived a fascinating life before settling down in her forties. I have some vague memories of spending time with Grace, but never got the opportunity to really talk with her about her life because I was just too young to know anything about how interesting she really was before she died in the 1980s.
She left behind a brief document of her life, in which she sets out the main events that formed her experiences. Reading her memoir inspired me to write something about her life and for two years I have pondered over what form this should take. I’ve now decided that I’ll use her life as the basis for an historical novel. Whether this is what the end product will be is another matter – I’ve learned from reading the advice of experienced writers that a project can end up looking vastly different once completed!
Since leaving full time work in January this year, I have been gathering notes and little pieces of research regarding what I’ll need to know. It’s now come to the point where I have so much research to complete that I think it will be best to just write the first draft devoid of historical detail, no matter how bad it will be, and use that as a guide for what I will need to learn.
With that in mind, yesterday afternoon I sat at the computer and without thinking about what I was going to say, just jumped straight into the first page. The book starts with a Grace who’s so far followed the same basic life pattern as my grandmother, but who has a character that I have invented for her and will experience events that come from my imagination.
I was amazed at how easily the words came – it was as if I knew my Grace already. I suspect this must be because I’ve spent so long thinking about her and making notes on her attitudes and character traits.
I don’t think the bit I’ve written is any good – but hopefully it is something that I will be able to edit into a great piece to draw in the readers to the rest of the novel. At this point I am now excited about drafting up the rest of the story, and seeing whether it works!