The light in my room is off and the brightness on my laptop screen has been dimmed. I have rotated my desk 90 degrees so that it is now facing the window. This allows me to sit at my desk and type while looking out of the window.
Why? Because there are fireworks, and I want to watch them, being too much of indoor person to actually go out and see them.
(Note for Americans and other aliens – in the UK, the 5th November is known as Bonfire Night when we commemorate Guy Fawkes trying to blow up Parliament. You probably know the story, but you might not. Most firework celebrations are held on the nearest weekend to that date.)
I am watching the fireworks and typing this post. I am about to continue working on my NaNo novel.
Why am I telling you this?
Because it’s important. Because it’s significant. Because on the 7th November 2009, I was sitting at my desk and typing on a website called Protagonize while watching the fireworks when I remembered this thing called NaNo that everyone had been talking about, so I went and looked it up and I signed up and that was the day I started writing my first novel.
And I didn’t have a plot and it was the 7th already, so my opening scene began like this:
Her name was Anna O’Sullivan. At this moment in time, she was seated at a wooden desk by her window, typing something and watching the fireworks that lit the night sky outside. Her brown hair was escaping from her ponytail, and she was wearing a green top with her favourite jeans. She had been born here, in South-East London, and here she had stayed all her life, living with her parents in the house that they had inherited from their parents, because as a teacher and a bakery worker, neither of them had a large income.
It was firework night, and Anna was extremely bored. As a fourteen year old only child, she had no one to talk to on days like this, so she would instead sit staring out of the window, looking at the fireworks, looking at the stars, which had always fascinated her.
Her bedroom was north-facing, and Anna could see at least two different choreographed firework displays, as well as two or three home displays. It was a lot warmer, and quicker, than going to see them, and she resolved to do this every year. The home displays were intermittent and often stopped for long periods of time, before returning with a bang that startled her every time.
When she had started to write, the light from Anna’s laptop screen had reflected off her window, making it harder to see the fireworks, but she was skilled with computers and had managed to set the screen to dim. Computers were one of her hobbies, and she knew exactly how to mend it every time it broke, which was a frequent occurrence.
Anna leaned around the side of the screen, craning her neck to see the fireworks that had just erupted to the North-West. She stopped typing, because although she could touch-type she preferred to do so when she could see whether she was doing it right, not when she could not see anything at all. She paused, watching a huge firework explode in a shower of green and gold stars.
It’s a pretty useless opening to a novel, and Anna is so plainly a self-insert that when I eventually overhaul this novel, it will be radically different and many of the characters will change.
But that is me, right now. Sitting in my North facing room watching fireworks and typing (my neighbours are having a display. The close flashes are very distracting as they are literally right outside my window).
I’m working on my fourth NaNo. It’s my 10th first draft, and several novels I’ve written I’ve also rewritten.
And it started on a day very like today, almost three years ago.