I promised myself that I would start writing another book at the beginning of October. No more procrastination. No more mulling over themes. It will be the novelised story of my great-grandmother leaving a comfortable lower middle-class life in industrialised Bradford, Yorkshire, coming on her own to Australia, and (not) making good. A rags to riches tale in reverse.
The first Monday in October, I opened the laptop, created a new document, and got ready to write. Then I thought, maybe I should collate my research first. Get it into some kind of order, rather than randomly writing off each trigger, intending to stitch it together later.
Should only take a few days, I thought. Yeah, well. Good luck with that thought.
So then I promised myself that I would finalise the collation by Melbourne Cup Day – the race that stops a nation, held on the first Tuesday in November. One final party day, and then I would start writing seriously.
Here we are at the start of December, and this is what my study looks like.
I am like a dog with a perfectly good bone right under its nose, yet still preoccupied with sniffing out other dog’s bones. Everything is now tipped out of my research box (that’s a real box, not a virtual computer thingy), and every time I go to extract the bit I want to use, I find another lead that is just too irresistible to ignore. Many of them I may write about and end up editing out, as they make take the reader down too many burrows that are not central to the story. Others, though, are pure gold. For example, I found a mid-1870s newspaper article all about a group of Bradfordians – including two single women – leaving by train for London, to embark on the “Great Queensland“, bound for Moreton Bay in Australia, as part of an emigration scheme sponsored by the Queensland government. Great! In the absence of knowing which ship my great-grandmother came on, and why or how, that can be her journey! You see my predicament? How can I let such contemporaneous detail slip through my fingers?
The problem is I only have ten fingers, and one lifetime. So, at some point I have to set the final deadline to start writing. The 2nd January is looking good. Oh wait! No! That’s the day we have tickets to the circus 🙂
One deadline that it not dependent on me is the imminent UK release of I Belong to No One by Orion Books. Wow! Only two more sleeps until the 3rd December! My expectation is that the paperback will be in shops such as Waterstones, WH Smith, Foyles, Blackwell’s, and Easons (Ireland) plus loads of online retailers, such as Book Depository. A little tip. If you are looking for it on the shelves you may have to crouch down to find the “W”s. Pity my surname isn’t Aardvark. (It will also be available as an eBook).
Although my story is an emotional one, it is not intended to be a misery memoir. It is ultimately a story of triumph over adversity.
As I told one journalist, “At some point, you reach a stage where you think: It wasn’t great. . . I can’t change that. All I can change is my future. You do not have to be defined by your background.”
In writing I Belong to No One, I hope it brings inspiration to people who are currently battling with situations where they really can’t see that there is ever going to be any other future than this one, thinking that they have to resign themselves to it and give up. Never give up. Never, ever.
For a review of I Belong to No One by British author Sandra Danby, click here.
For an in-depth author interview with Sandra Danby, click here.