Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Happiness is: Finishing the first draft of a novel in a festival of books and roses

Last night I finished the first draft of my novel Three lovers - Two Bullets. It took longer than it should have but I would argue that it's actually the 1.5th draft as I edited a lot before finishing the ending.

The book is set partly in my new home town of Clevedon in Somerset and Barcelona in Catalonia, with a hefty chunk on board a cruise ship.

It is always a huge milestone to reach the end of the first draft but the completion was marked by some strange co-incidences:

1) I finished the book on St George’s Day - England’s patron saint. This day barely gets noticed in England but on my Facebook feed from Oh Barcelona and Estrella Damm I was getting photos of women with roses and books.

It turns out that in Catalonia they celebrate Sant Jordi - a day for men to give a rose to the woman they love and for the women to give the man a book. According to Wikipedia this is to symbolise "a rose for love and a book forever." It is also common for couples to exchange books.

Wikipedia also claims that “By the end of the day, some four million roses and 800,000 books will have been purchased. Most women will carry a rose in hand, and half of the total yearly book sales in Catalonia take place on this occasion.”

It’s certainly a very auspicious day to finish a book that features the civil war in Catalonia in its back story.

Oh Barcelona gives some interesting history to how the tradition started by a bookseller: “In 1923 Vincet Claver Andres felt that people weren’t buying enough books. He also noticed that St George’s Day coincided with the almost simultaneous deaths of William Shakespeare and Miguel de Cervantes on 23 April 1616.”

It seems hard to believe that British/American publishers or the all conquering Amazon have not taken on this concept.

2) With a title like Three Lovers - Two Bullets there are going to be some emotional scenes. When I wrote a poignant scene months ago I was impressed that my iPod decided to play a very moving Spanish acoustic guitar song at the crucial moment. This was a fortunate co-incidence - I have a playlist for this novel with about 150 songs on it.

Yesterday I set my iPod to shuffle my entire music collection - almost 4000 tracks. I was writing the climax scene that takes place in Catalonia and another Spanish acoustic guitar song was played. The hairs on my neck stood up as I finished writing the scene on automatic pilot entranced by the gorgeous music. I’m sure my subconscious wrote that scene ending and I love how it turned out.

In case you are wondering I have one album of Spanish guitar music, about 11 tracks. That’s long odds.  
It’s almost enough to make me want to start playing the National Lottery.

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