Fireworks And Novels

Fireworks And Novels

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.


15 thoughts on “Fireworks And Novels

  1. Wow . . . that’s so poetic it almost hurts.

    I want to write a poem about it now. But I shouldn’t, because I want to hit 10k before tonight is out.
    I know you’re already three times over that, but permit me my small-minded goals, eh? ;)

    Excelsior, my friend! If this is where you are now – with a published novel on the way, all those first drafts and that much more experience, imagine where you will be next year!

    1. … I dread to think where I will be next year. Insane, probably.
      Is it poetic? I suppose it is. I don’t know. I wasn’t intending it to be. Sometimes things come out that way.

  2. I first did NaNo in 2009 too, though it wasn’t nearly as exciting as fireworks, sadly. I saw a friend on Facebook commenting on someone else’s post where they were talking about NaNoWriMo. C’est la vie.

  3. I think it’s pretty good writing, although maybe not the best for a beginning.

    I’ve been thinking about my first NaNo too… it was only a year ago but I really feel like my writing has improved and my interest in writing has gotten stronger.

    1. Also, I wish we had something like Bonfire Night. We don’t really have firework-y holidays except for the 4th of July. And sometimes New Year’s, but those are usually in big cities. People don’t just shoot off fireworks at their homes on New Year’s Eve.

      1. People do here, but not as much. They have a big celebration in London, which I usually watch on TV because you have to get there super early to see anything:-)
        Also, we’re celebrating a dude trying to blow up parliament, I mean…only in Britain.

  4. I don’t mean in any way to sound patronising/offensive, but my first thought is ‘aww’. It’s picturesque to imagine a young you sitting, thinking, typing, creating Anna and probably being amazing at NaNo. (FYI: I wasn’t able to like this post either. Strangeness.)

  5. Those fireworks would definitely have been amazing that night. I wish we had something of the sort in here too. NaNoWriMo is kinda very new to me and I don’t really understand it. As it says National Novel Writing Month, which country are we talking about in this?

    And as for your novels, how many have you published since the day you created a little Anna?

    1. NaNo is an international thing – the name is for convenience. It’s just an online challenge that a lot of people do :)
      I’ve not had any novels published, yet, though I’ve had one short story in an anthology. I co-wrote a novel with Charley Robson and Saffina Desforges and HOPEFULLY that’ll be out as an e-book by Christmas, but we’re still in the edits at the moment. :) Thanks for commenting!

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