I read a brilliant piece of advice once about the best way to get your novel started. Apparently what you should do is to write the numbers 1 – 30 down the left hand side of a notebook, leaving a large gap in between each. These would be your chapter numbers. Once that was done, all you had to do next was to plot out your story over those thirty chapters, allowing yourself 3,000 words per chapter. Et voila!…writing 1,000 words a day would then see your book finished in….well, not long at all. Maths never was my strong point…but unfortunately I do appear to be particularly adept at procrastination.
To get started on my first day of writing my novel which had been festering in my head, jostling for position with other slightly less feisty ideas, my first and most important task was to go and purchase the notebook. I knew that this notebook had to be all important as I would be plotting in it, setting out timelines, and making detailed lists about the character traits of my protagonist. I needed a book that would be a decent size, with lined paper that wasn’t too heavy, yet not too faint. The notebook had to have a hard back with those metal loops down the left hand side, and the cover had to be something that was appealing and inspiring. None of that standard rubbish that you get from the regular stationery shops.
So off I went at 9 o’clock, scouring art shops, craft shops, stationery shops and supermarkets, until two hours later I finally found the perfect ring-bound gem in a gift shop. An A4 sized bundle of joy featuring flying pigs on the cover, tucked behind a multitude of boring floral designs. This was my notepad. Even better….on the shelf below the notepad was a vast array of ink pens. Ink pens!! I hadn’t used one of those since my school years. I remembered the satisfying feeling of puncturing a brand new ink cartridge as you put it inside the pen casing, and then the joy of writing with something so authentic and lovely. I obviously had to have one. There was no way on earth I could desecrate my perfect notebook with anything other than one of those pens.
Unfortunately none of the pens featured flying pigs on the side so I had to either opt for dark and opulent or bright and quirky. By 11.30 bright and quirky had won the race, and my notepad, my pen and I were back home and celebrating by having a quick cup of coffee in the back garden, making the most of some unexpected autumn sunshine. Closing my eyes for a moment, I let the warmth wash over my face as I visualised writing the words ‘the end’ with a flourish with my quirky ink pen.
What was that noise? Oh bloody hell, the phone was ringing inside the house. I dashed inside, leaping over my snoozing dog to grab my mobile before it went to voicemail, only to be informed that I had missed my 12.30 dental check up, and the surgery would regrettably still have to charge me for it. Three things struck me all at the same time with equal horror. First of all annoyance with myself for obviously falling asleep, second of all dismay that I was going to be charged for an appointment that I hadn’t even been at, and thirdly that my day of writing was disappearing rapidly.
Still, no real point to start now was there. It was lunch time, so I may as well have a quick bite to eat before sitting down and writing steadily all afternoon. I still had loads of time to jot down my chapter numbers in my new notepad and start the plotting of my book. With that in mind I fixed myself a ham sandwich with cherry tomatoes, lettuce and mayonnaise and plonked myself on the sofa in front of the TV to watch ‘Loose Women’ for a half an hour. Just long enough to eat my lunch.
As the closing credits rolled and I realised it was now 1.30 I looked guiltily between my pig encrusted notepad and my dog who was now looking at me with reproachful eyes.
“Oh come on then” I told her “lets go for walkies”. What harm could it do? After all if I wrote now and took her out later I would be constantly aware of the fact that I did need to take her out for a stroll, so at least if I did it now we could get it done and dusted and then I could fully concentrate on my writing when we got back. Besides it did look like it might rain later, so probably best to go out now while it was still dry.
Over 5,000 steps later on my FitBit, with rain dripping down the inside of my coat collar and a very soggy but happy German Shepherd at my side, my key went back into the door. Turned out that along with maths, my weather prediction wasn’t too great either.
Narrowly avoiding my pooch shaking off all the excess water from her coat onto my notepad as she passed it by, I towelled her dry before taking a quick shower myself. 4 o’clock. Where on earth had the time gone!
Right, time to make a quick cup of tea and then take it along with my flapping pigs and quirky pen into my home office and get my head down. Just a bit of time to check my emails as my tea cools a bit, and I’d better just answer Elaine’s message on Facebook while Im at it. Oh yeah, I need to just forward that video with the talking dog to Tricia too. Oh she’s replied, and added another video of baby goats doing yoga. Hilarious. What did we do before social media.
Other than what we were bloody well supposed to do! Aaaaaargh!!!!! Its five past six! No, it cant be, I only sat down at 4 o’clock. The computer clock says five past six, my mobile says it’s five past six, the actual clock with hands on says its five past six. Oh crap now its six past six.
I really needed to crack on and actually just write something in my notepad. Jon was going to be home in less than half an hour, and I needed to get the dinner on too…..which reminded me, I actually needed to start marinating the meat now or it wouldn’t be ready in time. Oh bugger it. I looked sadly at my lovely notepad and touched my pen longingly before heading out to the kitchen to start making my soy and honey marinade to bath my pork loin in.
After dinner Jon and I caught up with a bit of Game of Thrones that we had Sky Plussed. It had been toss up between that and getting on with my writing, but it was the last episode in the season and we just knew that if we didn’t watch it then the ending would be all over social media next day, so I sat there for another hour watching medieval slaughter while my pigs continued to fly around the front cover of my notepad, although now alone and unchecked in a darkened room.
It was fine though, I could always do a little bit of planning once Jon had gone up to bed maybe. Yeah right, who was I kidding? It was already 10 o’clock and I was ready to hit the sack.
As he climbed the stairs, I poked my nose back into my office to see my fabulous piggies just waiting for some attention. I went in the room, flicking the light on as I went and sat down at the desk. Carefully I opened the sturdy cover of my hard back notepad which moved smoothly on the metal rings, revealing the perfect clean lines on the first empty page. I felt the weight of my bright and quirky pen as I inserted the first cartridge into the casing with a satisfying click.
With much care I wrote the number one on the top line of the first page, left ten spaces before writing the number two below it. I carried on in this pattern, turning a page every now and then until I had the numbers one to thirty all written out neatly and perfectly.
I’d done it….at last. My first writing day. Tomorrow would be full steam ahead. Today was always going to be the hardest writing all those numbers. Like I said…maths was never my strong point.
This story won 2nd place in the Scribble Short Story Competition 2017