On 22 November 1962, President Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas and I was a lowly NCO on guard duty at HQ 1 Corps in Bielefeld with little expectation in life. Certainly vague dreams of what might be, yet knowing that they weren’t for the working class boy that was me. Fast forward 55 years and those dreams are being realised in ways that I could never have imagined then.
You see, I’ve been talking about writing a novel since my 30’s with no real expectation that I would. Even when I did actually write my first, nonfiction, book and those that followed, the fictional one was restricted to an opening chapter; albeit a good one. It was as if whatever was inside refused to come out. Hence my recent enrolment on a Guardian Masterclass in novel writing.
Now, I have to say that this course has been really enjoyable and useful. However, the breakthrough that I’d hoped for hadn’t happened, until last night. Moreover, it took place by the simple expedient of being set a number of tasks each of 15 minutes duration. For someone who is normally a self starter, it was this external imperative that was the spur. And it worked.
During the evening, we were given extracts to read, the first of which was one with dialogue and little description; the former providing the latter. Well, dialogue, I’m told is something that I have an ear for so that was no real problem. However, some time later we were given another extract where description was more dominant and asked to rewrite our first attempt in a more descriptive form. “Oh dear” I thought, until I started to put pen to paper when I couldn’t stop writing and 2½ pages of dialogue and description appeared on the paper. Who would have believed it? Importantly, I now know that I can write fiction.
Which demonstrates my tagline as a speaker, “All you have to do is try” albeit with some intent.