Posted on June 1, 2015
I have lingered over my book idea for months upon months. Though I have been constantly developing the bones of the plot and the characters, and making notes, there has been precious little actual writing.
I went most of my life not believing that I had a book in me, because I didn’t have any original ideas, and without inspiration striking, then I hardly saw how I could go forward. In 2009 I did come up with an idea for a novel, called Cerulean, and I began it, but it never went anywhere. I couldn’t think of a proper story arc to propel it, and so it withered into stasis. Then, a couple of years ago, I awoke from a sleep deprived idea with a one line premise for a story. I called it a short story. I didn’t do anything about it for months, until the first line came to me while I was walking one day, and so I was able to begin.
The storyline is a lot bigger than a one line premise now, full of complex characters and interweaving plots, and it became too big for a short story, but still, after the initial flood of words, nothing, until last week, when a unique writing prize was announced. The Richell Prize is to encourage emerging writers, and so it calls for three completed chapters of a novel, which need not be finished, but the writer must intend to complete the book. It is in memory of the former CEO of Hachette Australia, Matt Richell, who died in a tragic accident last year, and who was passionate about nurturing new talent. The prize is presented in conjunction with the Emerging Writer’s Festival, Hachette Australia, along with Hannah Richell, and The Guardian Australia.
For me, the announcement of the prize on Hannah Richell’s blog was the impetus to stop messing around and write this thing that I have been living and breathing behind my heart for so many months. The deadline is in about 10 weeks, so it’s time to get to work.
The story is coming together. I have been putting pen to paper, mapping chapters and timelines and weaving storylines together, and most importantly, I have been writing the actual story. Without this last bit, all of the planning in the world is worth nothing. Sometimes I look at what I’m writing, and doubt myself, but I keep these words from Janet Frame in my head “The only certainty about writing and trying to be a writer is that it has to be done, not dreamed of or planned and never written, or talked about (the ego eventually falls apart like a soaked sponge), but simply written; it’s a dreadful, awful fact that writing is like any other.” (Thanks, Michelle).
I use a method of drafting which I learned about from a very old interview with Richard Flanagan, which I find to be a very useful manner in which to fill the plot. he called it a cantilever system, wherein you write, and then go back later and fill in details. It’s a great way to get the frame work of a chapter down, and then return to add the flavour and finesse.
I’m very excited about getting the first few chapters written and then re-drafted, I doubt that I could write the whole thing in ten weeks, although you never do know, now that I have begun. Well, off to do some more work on these words of mine. Wish me luck!
You can find these words at the bottom of the page about the Richell Prize:
This Prize brings together a group of people who know what a huge supporter of emerging writers Matt Richell was. Without the writers there would be no Prize – so be brave and submit your work
So, what about you? Do you have a book that you have been waiting to write, or one that you have written already? Be brave! Get it started, or pull it out and work on it some more. Go on, I dare you… Submit it!
Linking up with Jess for #IBOT