Ever wanted to know what it’s like to write a novel? I’m in the process of writing a new novel and will be blogging my progress week by week here.
I’m back into the manuscript. I still haven’t decided what it will be called, but given that I’m just shy of 60,000 words and on track to finish the first draft by Christmas, I’d probably better think about that. At the moment the working title is Happy Ever After.
When I’d first got the idea for this story, I described it to friends as being sort of like what happens after the happy ever after. The stuff they don’t tell us about. The curve balls that life throws us when we’re in our late forties, early fifties and the kids are almost off our hands. The things that happen when we should be coasting happily into, if not retirement, then at least something not as exhausting as what we’d spent the last twenty or so years doing.
I was going to write about the ageism in corporate life – and the bullying that goes on behind that. It was to be my revenge of sorts against the company my husband used to work for. I wrote all of that into the story and then deleted most of it – while I still have zero respect for them, we wouldn’t be living where we are now if they hadn’t done what they’d done. Once I’d let that go I was able to see what was going on around me and my characters began to take shape.
It started me thinking about everything else – how lives can change in a heartbeat right at that time when we’re thinking about coming down a gear. Divorce, health issues, death, ageing parents, adult children, loss of employment – all of that seems to hit at this age. Right at that point where we’re about to reap the rewards of the hard work and stress, whoever it is who rules the roost up there seems to decide that she has other plans for us – and life all of a sudden looks very different to the version that we’d envisaged.
That’s the premise of this story. Neil and Kate Spence fell in love when Kate was just eighteen after a chance meeting at a Midnight Oil gig that never happened. Then they fell out of love. In between were a few decades, two kids and a lifetime of memories.
Rather than the career that she’d envisaged – fighting the good fight for those who couldn’t fight it – Kate’s reality is one where playing happy families now includes Neil’s new (and very young) girlfriend, Vanessa. It’s not at all what Kate expected when she encouraged him in his quest to find himself by hiking to Everest Base Camp four years ago.
But when Neil finally asks for a divorce, secrets and longings that Kate thought she’d buried begin to surface. Can there be another chance for Kate and Neil, or has the universe got other plans for them?
Yes, the above reads a tad like a blurb – something I tend not to even contemplate until I’ve finished a book, but here I am writing it now. To put that into perspective, I haven’t even written the blurb yet for I Want You Back…and I need to.
The words stopped for a while – I wrote nothing for the week after I hit the 50,000 mark. That coincided with the wall that I’d seen approaching in the distance – a wall that was a pivotal scene that I knew that I had to write, but that I truly didn’t want to.
I’d got to know Neil and Kate and care about them. This scene would change everything – and it was the hardest thing I’d ever written…so far. In writing it, not only was I challenging myself, it almost felt as though I was tempting my own fate – ridiculous, I know, but since when does logic come into it? I cried buckets as I wrote it. I guess that’s a good thing.
Anyways, once I got that scene out of the way I was able to push through the wall and the story is again moving. I still have no idea how it’s going to end, but that’s all part of the fun.
My target is to hit 65,000 words by the end of this weekend. I’m on track for that. Watch this space.