‘You write a book in a month, a whole book!’
‘It takes years to write a book, Sam. You have to plan, research, write thoughtfully, precisely and then edit remorselessly.’
‘No listen, you put down 50,000 words, a complete story but the quality doesn’t matter. So many people think that they have a novel inside them and never even start with the writing. This lets you see where your ideas go when you give them free rein. You can do the edits and rewrites later.’
‘Sam if you want to do this fine, but I’m too busy to give a month to typing 50,000 words of crap.’
Sam stared into her coffee. She had been so sure that Clare would join her in this. Clare was always talking about writing, about all the ideas she had and the books she would publish. She kept an old typewriter in the tastefully decorated room she laughingly called her cell. She used it to type out motivational quotes which she pinned to the walls alongside story ideas. Framed photographs of authors sat on shelves alongside carefully chosen books. She always carried a notebook and pen. These would sit by her cappuccino while Clare observed the customers in their favourite, down town coffee shop, occasionally jotting down details to write about later.
Sam pulled herself together and smiled at her friend.
‘Okay, well I’m going to give it a try anyway.’
‘You have too much time on your hands, you should socialise more.’
‘Now you sound like my mother. I want to do this, to see if I can. Look, I’d better be getting back. Enjoy the dinner with David.’
Clare was right, Sam did have a lot of time on her hands, but she was comfortable with how she filled her days. For the next month she would devote a couple of hours each morning and evening to writing, just to see if she could do it. She wasn’t as clever as Clare, but neither was she trying to write the next best seller. She would do this for herself.
‘So did you sign up for the writing thing?’
‘Yes! Oh Clare, I didn’t know it would give me such a buzz. I’m on 78,000 words and still have a week to go. I know how it is going to end, but I need to build on the back stories of a couple of characters to show why I included them. The plot lines didn’t quite…’
‘Yeah right. That dinner I went to? David’s colleagues seem really friendly. We’re going to a garden party at one of their houses this weekend. They were very interested when I told them I am a writer.’
‘Have you been writing too then?’
‘You know I am still at the planning stage. I don’t have time to sit down and write words that will just be thrown away, although you don’t plan to publish do you? I mean, you said yourself it would be crap.’
Sam stirred her coffee. She was sure that Clare didn’t mean to put her down, she was probably being too sensitive as usual.
Three days before the end of the month Sam submitted her story to the on line site, 102,436 words. She grinned as the video of a group of people cheering appeared on her screen, and happily printed off her winner’s certificate. It had been fun and surprisingly fulfilling. She may even go back and edit her story, or maybe she would use the ideas to write something else.
Clare was as disparaging as ever about her efforts.
‘Do you know anything about creative writing, about the importance of dialogue, structure, hooks? Do you know how to engage the reader, to add depth, suspense, action? Can you write quality, descriptive narrative so that the reader can picture the scene?’
‘Clare I just write down whatever comes into my head, then read it back and rewrite it until I am doing no more than taking out a comma and then putting it back in. I don’t really plan.’
Clare looked at her pityingly over the rim of her coffee cup. ‘That is not how you write quality fiction.’
Clare was probably right, she did not know the rules and was unlikely ever to publish in book form any of the many words she now had swirling around in her head. She accepted that some would never consider her a proper writer, but Sam was never the same again.