I’m writing a novel at the moment; a novel which I started about thirty years ago. No, wait – it must be nearer 40 years ago that I began it. The first draft amounted to little more than 12,000 words which is basically a long short story; barely even a novella. (I have always had trouble writing at length, whereas most people have the opposite problem.) I set it aside and returned to it; but at some point during the writing I decided to do a peculiar and – as it turned out – doomed exercise. The novel was, and is, called ‘Seven Days’ and among other things it tells the story of life on earth from the first green appearing on rock through the giant lizards to the primates and then us. It’s also the story of one woman’s journey into self-discovery and these narratives run in tandem. Plus, each chapter has a colour working through the rainbow (or the chakras). But I digress. According to a book I was reading at the time, reputable estimates put the start of life on earth at about 300 million years ago.
Three hundred million years! The more I thought about it, the more I realised the impossibility of understanding such a time-frame. So I decided I would make some sort of chart beginning with the shortest period that I could mentally and (perhaps) physically encompass: a hundred years. I got some strips of paper and marked each one off in sections representing a century, and I stuck them round the walls of my room. It soon became apparent that this was going to take a long time – and eventually I worked out that if I did this for eight hours a day, five days a week it would take me three years (and presumably more than one room). I gave it up.
Still, it did give me at least an idea of an idea of what three hundred million years is like.
Anyway, the novel has moved on a fair bit and now totals 50,000 words which is almost long enough for a short novel, and the length of a NaNoWriMo tome:
I’m working on the beginning to send off in July for a Cinnamon ‘start of novel’ competition:
And apart from that I’m setting myself to do a thousand words a day for a memoir, also for a competition. I’m up to 9,000 now.
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