The First Step – or is it the Second?

After a break of a couple of weeks – holidays, sickness, I was back at the writing class. Only three more weeks and then we finish until September. How will I manage?

This weeks lesson was based on the book “The Bridge of San Luis Rey” by Thornton Wilder, one of those famous books that nobody reads. If you haven’t, it is about a group of five people who die when an Inca rope bridge collapses.

This was the start of our exercise. We talked about different catastrophes and then wrote a description of one of our own. We had to make a list of at least five characters and describe them. I hate this process – staring at a blank piece of paper with an equally blank mind. Usually something comes and sometimes it leads to wonderful things. Some amazing scenarios certainly emerged during yesterday’s class. I must make a confession – I cheated!

Since I finished my WIP first draft and edit, I have allowed myself to dream. What happens next? After all it is planned as a trilogy. A few ideas have been fermenting in my brain: places, people, events, a battle – of course, deaths – inevitable after a battle, who will die? One thing I did know is how it starts – with a catastrophe! I hadn’t gone any further. When do I start? Do I wait until I have done more editing? Should I catch up with my life for a bit?

Was I a little bit scared?

Faced with the dreaded blank page, I jumped.

I didn’t need to describe my catastrophe, I had already gone through it, many times, in my head

I didn’t need to describe my characters, I already know them. I have even interviewed some of them – see some of the posts I wrote in the April Archives on the right.

Finally, towards the end of the class, I was allowed to start writing. Here is the very first page:

start of the book

At the top you can see my five characters. I have cut out my brief notes about the catastrophe – you didn’t think I was going to give anything away, did you? You can also see why I do most of my writing on the computer. I have written beautiful exercises and then been unable to read them out in class because I can’t read my own writing! There are a few more lines and that is it, so far.

My second WIP AKA (for the moment) Byrhtnoth2 has officially started. There is a (very) long way to go but, as someone once said “a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step”.

I feel like God saying “Let there be light” (Pretentious, Moi?).

I am every writer who has ever looked at a rock/parchment/piece of paper/computer screen and thought “I’ve got a story to tell, I think I’ll write it down.”

I haven’t experienced this before. My first book just evolved. This time I know what I am doing – in the sense that I know I am writing a book, not that I think I know how to do it.

Coming back to earth, I have homework to do, permission to carry on. Where will it take me? Can I actually do it?

Hopefully some of these questions will be answered in future posts.

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