I attended a writing day last month and one of the speakers said that anything Edwardian or Victorian is hot news since the success of Downton Abbey.
I was thrilled by this information as a while back, I had an idea to write a ‘rags to riches’ historical novel set in The Potteries. It came to me so clearly and fully formed that I wondered if it was maybe a novel by Barbara Taylor Bradford that I’d read and subconsciously pinched.
This brilliant novel would be set in the Victorian times, when the Industrial Revolution was under way and small boys were still being stuffed up chimneys…But hang on a minute, when was the Industrial Revolution again? Oh, who cares, I’ll just leave a few gaps if I get stuck.
Just need to get started:
Megan stumbles on the cobblestones… oh wait, would it be cobblestones, or just cinders strewn across the dirt? Never mind, I’ll leave a gap.
She lit the gas lamp… Hmm, gas or candle?
She dressed in the dim light of dawn, pulling on her worn leather shoes… or would they be wooden clogs?
And all of these gaps were on the first page! You getting the feeling that my optimism was slightly misplaced? This novel was shaping up nicely- if I wanted to use it as a string vest.
Some research was clearly needed, so I decided to visit my parents who live in a lovely town called Stone, near to the Potteries to tackle some research. I visited the Gladstone Pottery Museum to see the real deal, took loads of photo’s which I’d love to put on this blog, but I left my camera somewhere in the building, never to be seen again. (I also dropped my iPad on to the brick floor where it clattered and rattled and I held my breath in dread, but it didn’t break- hurrah!)
So, pretty much back to the start of the Historical Novel of the Century. Luckily NaNoWriMo was looming (http://www.nanowrimo.org/) and I took the opportunity to write my story with as many gaps as I cared, because that kind of slack work is positively encouraged with NaNoWriMo, it’s all about quantity not quality. And you don’t even have to fess up that you didn’t finish the whole novel at the end of it –you just keep very quiet.
So, although I was rather proud that I managed 42 thousand words in a month, my novel, cocooned in a halo of brilliance, was now a bit tarnished- and still full of holes.
Sad to say that I won’t be able to jump on the Downton Abbey band-waggon after all, as I have barely looked at the novel (optimistically called, Set In Stone) since, and I still don’t know if you could dunk a rich tea biscuit in your cuppa back then or if you would tell the time by a wristwatch or a sundial!
However if anyone hears a whisper that the next “Big Thing” is about Permafrost in the Arctic Tundra, I’m there- I got a ‘B’ in Geography for that, so I know all about it- or if I get stuck, I can always leave a few gaps.