This is a big week for signs of life in my world. Not only am I about to finish the first draft of a novel I have been working on for a long time, but our lockdown pond has attracted its first tadpoles and frogs. A first draft and a pond may seem unrelated but both have required regular attention, observation, cultivation, clearing out and vast amounts of faith and patience.

Both the pond and the first draft inspire questions:

  • What bug is that?
  • How did I manage 60,000 words so far?
  • Is that a pod or a poo?
  • Should I rename my main character?
  • Are birds drinking this water?
  • Is this story any good?
  • What’s at the bottom?
  • Can I really finish this?

I can’t answer questions 1, 3, 5 and 7 but I know the answer to number 2: I sat down and made myself write regularly and consistently over the past winter. I set a timer to 45 minutes and just wrote without stopping, even when I didn’t feel like it. Little by little, the manuscript grew – not unlike a new pond.

On question 4, the jury is still out. But my main character has been Zach for such a long time it feels wrong to change it.

The jury will definitely have to decide on question 6.

The final question makes me nervous and excited at the same time. But I know the answer is Yes. I’ll be back to let you know how it went, probably with a celebratory glass of elderflower fizzy water in my hand. No champagne yet because I’ll still have a long way to go before this first draft is revised and polished. But the words are nearly all down on virtual paper now and I celebrate that!

P.S. The image at the top is my page from a collaborative sketchbook being shared around with my colleagues at Leeds Arts University. It’s acrylic paint on the side of a cornflake box.

And here is the actual pond. Have a great weekend, everyone!