Brought forth by a blog page titled Writing my first novel.
I wrote my first novel, which never saw the light of day nor anybody else’s light of eye, at the ripe age of 18. I remember coming home from school, eating something, doing any homework that was absolutely necessary and then sitting down at my parents’ manual Triumph typewriter to advance my novel, which I simply called The Great Novel. Great in the sense of long.
It was the tale of a kid about my age who was about to study at a university. To give myself plenty of freedom (and avoid any verisimilitude issues) , I set the story in a fantasy country, of which I even drew a map, and I wasn’t too particular about the time setting, either. Time, let’s put it this way, meandered back and forth between the then present (1974) and undefined previous times.
The country had something of the Balkans and was backwards in many ways. I suspect this had to do with the countries invented by Robert Musil (Kakania) and other Austrian writers I’d read. Lots of apricots were eaten and cooked in this country. I think I included some made-up apricot recipes.
There was a convoluted love story, but I don’t think the lovers had met by the time I quit writing. I was leading up to that in the course of the approx. 140 pages I wrote. This added a medieval quality (in the Middle Ages, lovers are usually apart).
There were numerous tangential stories featuring minor characters woven into the basic plot.
The major characters were loosely based on young yours truly and, strangely, the younger sister of the girl yours truly had been in love with for about 6 years. I remember that this girl slept in a canopy bed and wore pyjamas with dragons stitched on. Oh, and she had a dictator-like but somewhat admirable father, whose personality was based on her real-life father, the vice principal at my school. And she was going to be married by force to a brute of a rich playboy known primarily for his vicious headshakes.
140 pages written in perhaps 3 months of afternoon and evening sessions after school. This fragment is still around somewhere, but I haven’t looked at it in ages, and it will with about 99.9% certainty never be read again – neither by myself nor by anybody else.
Even though it could be safely said, I think, that more harebrained and more poorly written stuff has actually been published in the history of mankind.
– James Steerforth