Writing my debut historical fiction novel, All That Glitters Is Not Gold is proving to be a mammoth task. For starters, I changed the title three times, from Broadway Star to Rogues and Vagabonds and for now I’ve settled on All That Glitters Is Not Gold. Why? Well, the story has evolved considerably. My initial aim was to write Shirley Broadway’s story. I met Shirley when she was running in CHATS in Coffs Harbour. She told me how her parents were vaudeville performers during the 1930s Great Depression. They lived in Melbourne and to survive the Depression they had to tour regional Victoria bartering show tickets for food, petrol and supplies. That’s where the Rogues and Vagabonds title came in. Shirley later worked at HSV-7, Channel 7 when Australian television was first launched in the late 1950s.
One of my aims when writing All That Glitters Is Not Gold was to preserve Australian entertainment history as best I could by recording Shirley’s experiences before her memory failed her. The research alone took me years! Here are some of my notes on how I started.
DIARY NOTES ON HOW IT ALL STARTED
I thought I’d start on chapter one this week considering I had it all worked out in my head and I had to start sometime. So, first things first, I typed out Chapter One in nice font and made it look all official. Then I thought, ok, how do I get what’s in my head down on paper (computer screen actually). I write the first line and it doesn’t look right. I stare at it wondering why when it occurs to me that I have my scriptwriting hat on which is just not going to work. I think to myself ‘This is going to be a bigger challenge than I thought.’ I have to train myself to think ‘novel’. This means that I have to remember to describe everything to the reader. They need to be able to visualise the clothes, the surroundings, the era that the story is set. When you watch a film this is all explained by the visual presentation. I realise that I’m going to have to work harder, more research, more questions.
An hour later, I’ve only written 42 words which I’ve already changed numerous times. I’ve looked up names for the era, fashions, made up a table of contents for my ‘notes’ document, got distracted with a few emails that came in, got myself a glass of wine and now I’m sleepy and it’s after 11pm.
Ok, I made some adjustments and am now up to 86 words. I’m going to need a good editor because I’m already picking up mistakes with my tense.
It’s now 11.35pm and I’m super tired and have only written 99 words, 101 if you include Chapter One and of course excluding this blog. I think I’m going to be finished this book by 2050. Working full-time is a pain in the butt! I need a sugar daddy or a large mysterious donation to fall out of the sky so I can do what real writers do, spend ALL DAY WRITING! That would be bliss! But back to reality… It’s time for blanket bay.
Ok, I’ve taken another look at my progress and it’s not looking good. I need to decide on the tense. There’s so much to think about really when you try to take something out of your head and turn it into a story that makes sense to everyone else.
A few days later … I’ve ordered about 12 books from the library on fashion and cars and more things I need to research! My office is looking slightly chaotic but that’s nothing new. It’s an organised mess. I’ve just added another 5 years to the release date of my book! As for chapter one, what have I done so far? Well, I’ve picked out some interesting names, dressed the characters, given them hairstyles, and set the mood. Give me a break, these things take time. They must be accurate! You wouldn’t think to rush an artist, would you? Well, writing is like painting on a canvas except you use words to create the picture and you need to blend the right words to make a great sentence, paragraph, page, story.
I look forward to sharing more of my writing journey with you. Until next time.