I wrote a book!
Posted on June 28, 2017
Well, I wrote the first draft of a book, anyway. That’s kind of like birthing a baby, but you still have to rear the child to maturity, so though the birth seemed like really hard work, all of the really nuanced work is still in front of you.
It has taken me a little over two years to write my first draft. I woke from a nap a few years ago with this tiny seed of an idea planted in my imagination, about a little girl who goes missing from her bed and how her mother’s life becomes consumed with writing an alternate life for her child, a day by day story of what her daughter did each day, as if she had never been taken away.
That, is not, in fact, the story that I ended up writing, though it takes inspiration from it. My story does have at its centre a little girl called Lucy Ra Brown who goes missing in the 1970s, and her mother does write stories about an alternate life for her daughter, but around that the main protagonist is the mother’s sister, the mother of a grown up autistic son. It is a book about lost stories and stolen children, or childhoods. I think I had better come up with a better synopsis! I believe that it was Joan Didion who said that if she could tell you what her book was about, why would she bother writing it? And I think that much is true.
When I began writing, I had not the faintest clue of how the book ended. I didn’t know my characters. I had no idea or interest, really in what happened to Lucy Ra Brown. These are the things that make it a big job to go back to the beginning of the story for the second draft, knowing that you need to make some big changes, knowing what you know now about the plot and characters. That’s what makes it so interesting, I suppose. On the first day of working on the second draft, I trashed 3000 words and replaced the existing page one with page eleven. This is the part that I have been waiting for.