Inspired by my dear friend and fellow writer Tallulah, I’ve decided to keep a writing journal from time to time, just to keep track of what I’m doing, to note my progress, to jot down ideas and developments in the story, and to kick my own lazy backside. I need to stay motivated and I’m willing to try anything. It’s going to be full of spoilers (who cares), unstructured and messy and incoherent and full of typographical errors (so not very different from what I normally post), and also not particularly conducive to constructive feedback (which is not the point), buuuuut I’m going to leave it here anyway (until I chicken out and make all the entries private). I could make it private to begin with, I suppose, but maybe one of my three readers will be vaguely interested in the process, and I need to be less awkward about sharing this crap anyway. After all, I’d like to get it published one day (haha, big dreams). (((Yay! Unnecessary parentheses!)))
So. Consider this NOVELBARF ENTRY NUMBER ONE!
I will get the severed head rolling by giving a bit of basic info. Seems like a useful exercise, both for myself and for my reader(s).
WHAT IS THE NOVEL CALLED?
I don’t know. The working title is “Crossing”. I like short titles; single-word titles where possible.
WHAT IS THE NOVEL ABOUT?
Hard to say. The novel is about people and what they think and how they work and how they strike balances between rules and ethics, to varying degrees of success. It’s about difference and acceptance. It’s about pragmatism. It’s about possibilities and impossibilities. Maybe it’s about love. It has a bit of murder, a bit of sex, a bit of substance abuse, a bit of life-threatening adventure, but then it also has fluffy animals and people sitting around in a treehouse drinking too much tea. It’s about magic, but the not wand-waving, spell-casting sort. It’s about a civilisation that got a lot of things right, but also got a lot of things wrong, and it’s about the process of acknowledging these things. It’s about a girl who hits her head on a rock.
WHO IS THE MAIN CHARACTER?
Her name, at the moment anyway, is Lula (short for Lulama). I say she’s the main character, but she’s really one of four characters who have sections written from their perspectives. The other three are Berrovan (Berro), Birda, and Fessi. FACTOID: Berro is based, in name and personality, on a character in a book I started working on when I was about twelve years old. He was an elf back then. (I know, I know! I was young!) I never got beyond chapter one, which I rewrote about a hundred times and illustrated extensively. He’s not the main character anymore, and he’s not an elf, but it feels good to have him around.
WHERE IS IT SET?
Originally Cape Town (sort of), but now I’m thinking maybe London (sort of), seeing as I’m living here now. It doesn’t matter too much because nothing is as it is in the real world anyway. The only implications would be political/cultural/identity stuff regarding my main character. I’m writing with London in mind and I’ll see how this plays out. Perhaps she’s a South African immigrant to London, just like me. Don’t worry, she’s not a fictional representation of me. And she’s not a Mary Sue. I might not be a great writer, but I’m not that bad…
It’s in the present tense. I played around with the past tense at first, and when I’m very tired or distracted I sometimes catch myself starting the odd section in the past tense by accident, but for the most part, the present tense was happening more naturally and I’m forcing myself to stick with it. I enjoy the immediacy and it solves a number of other problems that I might or might not discuss later. At the moment, Lula and Birda have first person perspectives, while Berro and Fessi are written in the third person. I have reasons for this, one of them being that I get bored of typing “I” all the time.
The less context the better. This is unedited. I wrote it yesterday.
And then, the crunching of twigs nearby that I’ve been expecting. I can’t run. I might be concussed. I don’t know where I am, or where to go. I’m not athletic. I stand a better chance of being able to talk my way out of a situation, so I stay put as the figure moves out of the shadows and into view. Male, as I was expecting, but everything else is a bit of a surprise. He’s alone, for one. There were definitely three of them chasing me. He’s also very large; not overweight, just massive, with broad shoulders and a chest like a mountain. He doesn’t look like he’d be fast, and he doesn’t look like he’s been running. He’s wearing a green uniform unlike any uniform I’ve seen. It’s neat and close-fitting with lots of pockets. He pauses, staring at me. There’s something silver twinkling on his high, black forehead.
He has a strange look on his face, something like fear. He raises his hand as he moves closer. He doesn’t mean to strike me. It’s a shield, a surrender. He doesn’t want a fight or flight reaction. He places a finger across his lips and crouches down in front of me. Through the pulse of my fear I can smell him. It’s a strange but pleasant herbal smell. His eyes are a surprisingly pale hazel green. They unnerve me. I’m trying to look defiant, but I’m know I’m shaking. The silver thing on his forehead is a metallic dot. It looks as though it’s painted on, but then he picks it off with a fingernail and I see that it’s a tiny disc. He sticks it onto my forehead. It’s cold and tight like a drop of glue, but only for a moment, and then I can’t feel it anymore. I’m rigid with fear and my jaw hurts from clenching my teeth together. I feel like there’s enough pressure behind my eyeballs to shoot them out of my skull. And then he speaks.