Writing A Novel

A Glass Darkly

I was about seven years old, when I wrote on the flyleaf of The Magic Chestnut, “My first good book.” Desecration of the flyleaf earned me chastisements from my grandmother, also an avid reader – in earlier years I had begged her, “Wead to me Gwamma” – and she did – until her voice grew hoarse. I trace my love of reading and writing to those early days. I always thought I could write a book and started several during my childhood. Together with a friend, we produced a whole series of books, the “Hilltop Books” banging them out on a manual typewriter, adding hand drawn illustrations and stapling on shiny covers. So you see, I always thought I had it  in me to write a book, and yet I let the years roll by until, at the age of fifty, I decided, – if not now, when? Since inspiration for a great novel had not claimed me out of thin air, my first two books, Hiking England’s Coast to Coast Way and, Blisters and Blessings interweave contemporary stories of challenging hiking trails with the history and culture of former times. Despite the modest yet enthusiastic circulation, I felt a sense of satisfaction. I had written not one, but two slim volumes.

Inevitably, that satisfaction began to dwindle. These were non-fiction books; the girl who scribbled on the inside cover of The Magic Chestnut, dreamed of imagining, inventing, and binding spells.

I needed to write a novel.

There is a saying that “there is a novel inside each of us” – the trick is to let it out. Sounds simple. And, nevertheless, for me, it’s anything but. It is like a long labor where you lose sight of the blessing you expected and fear it will be stillborn.

During the summer of 2020, I wrote a couple of short stories for the Reedsy competition, mainly for the discipline of writing to a deadline, and to spark my creativity. Constrained by the pandemic, in November of that year, I answered the NanoWriMo challenge – write 50,000 words towards a novel during the month of November.  It was a fool’s errand. I had precious little plot or characterization, save what I had sketched in the two short stories.  My precise, careful writing style featuring almost no dialogue, is completely unsuited to pouring out 50,000 words in 30 days, (how I wished there were 31!)  My writing grew sloppier and sloppier as I simply figured out the plot and transferred it to paper but, at 40,000 words, I saw a glimmer of hope.  If I hunched over the keyboard ignoring the complaints from my aching back and glazed eyes, for just a few more days, I could do it. I didn’t burn the midnight oil on November 30th, sometime during the day I pushed wordcount and hey presto!  I’d done it!

Once the self-congratulations died down, there was much more sweat and lumbar pains to suffer.  How was I to finish the book?  To connect the hook at the beginning with a satisfactory ending? To illustrate my themes, spring surprises, seed meaning and keep my readers’ attention?

Re-reading the drivel I had written during NaNoWriMo was depressing, and it was easy to write a blog post, go to yoga classes, cook something delicious instead of attending to my novel.  And yet the seven year old girl who lives inside of me wouldn’t let me give up. I am still rewriting the re-writes, fine tuning, adding more definition to the characters, locations and themes, but sections are in the hands of a professional proofreader and one day, my novel. A Glass Darkly, will be born.

End Notes

End Notes is taking a break this month.

    Instead:

    Explore my website – newly transformed into an author site with Salt Spray and Aspens as one of its treasures.

    Sample A Glass Darkly – exclusive excerpt available only to subscribers. (Current Subscribers find the link in my latest email)

    Design a Cover for A Glass Darkly – the current image may be the basis of the final version – or perhaps you can surprise me.

    The image should be suitable for 9 in  x 6 in px in. or 1800 px x 2700 px. Don’t worry about the technical details, we’ll figure those out if your image is chosen.

    Please email your ideas to LNajimy@beansproutproductions.com

    Hints:

    • A “glass darkly” is a Biblical quotation dating from a time when mirrors were polished bronze.
    • Most of the action is in fictional towns in Massachusetts.
    • The father works for a car dealership – maybe he sees his reflection in the polish on a car.
    • There are references to stars and red hair!

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