Back in December 2019, when no one seemed to have heard of the coronavirus, I wrote a blog post about my writing. In it, I talked about my experience of writing about education, including my doctoral thesis and ‘Making the Leap’, about blogging, and about my desire to try writing fiction.
At that stage, I had had an idea for a novel, and had started to write, only to find that after just under 10,000 words I had said what I wanted to say, and had produced a (long) short story, ‘The Dresser’. I was pleased with it, in that I felt it was thoughtfully written and carefully structured, and I shared a link to it using various platforms and gathered some feedback – thank you to everyone who read it and commented.
A number of those commentators said that it was perhaps too ‘full’ for the short story format, and would have been better expanded to novel length, which would have given me the scope to develop my characters more fully, and to make greater use of dialogue to ‘show’, rather than using narrative to ‘tell’. This is a fair criticism, I think, and I decided I would go back to ‘The Dresser’, see if I could develop the ideas to the novel length of 50,000+ words, without dramatically changing the basic storyline or the overarching structure, which I want to preserve.
I still intend to do this, but, before I started to work on it, I had another idea which I thought I could sustain to novel length, if I plotted it out carefully beforehand and paced my writing appropriately. I started writing in January, and have worked on this through the early months of this year, and into the summer, making use of my time at home during lockdown and through this period of distancing and semi-isolation. I deliberately haven’t rushed the process; on writing days I have reread, edited, and then gone on to write a further chapter. In between writing days I have reflected, evaluated, and clarified my thinking about how I might improve or develop my ideas.
I have loved doing this. I realise I am writing for myself: if others want to read what I have written, that is a bonus. If they enjoy the story, that is an additional bonus! Any feedback is welcome, and I am sure I will continue to tweak the writing in due course, although my plan is now to set this aside for a while and go back to work on ‘The Dresser’.
So this is #oneword, the story of four women who have been friends for thirty years, as they navigate 2019. It outlines their experiences, challenges and opportunities over the twelve-month period, and it explores their friendship and how their relationships develop during the year. It is very different from ‘The Dresser’!
This is a link to the opening section, and to the contents page, which will give you an idea of how the story is structured. If, having read the Prologue, you’d like to read the rest of it, please get in touch and I’ll send you a link to the whole thing, which is just shy of 53,000 words. If you’re happy to send me your thoughts about the writing, perhaps use the comments thread below this post. Thank you, in advance.
Photo montage: John Berry