A few years ago I drew up a bucket list, and writing a novel was the first thing on it. I'd convinced myself that I had a Great Unwritten Novel in me, and was only a few sessions at the computer away from becoming the next Booker Winner/JK Rowling/Marian Keyes. I just needed to find the time to write. I love to read, so I'd be great at writing. Right?
Eventually, I did get around to it. I wrote my first novel while on maternity leave with my son, after feeling like my brain was slowly seeping from my ears and wanting to stop it before all intelligent thought disappeared into a fog of nappies and messy food and plastic toys. Writing gave me something to think about when I couldn't get back to sleep after those night feeds, and something to do during his naps. The finished product was a novel about two women that could be best described as "chick lit with heart", and if it were published would probably end up with shoes on the cover, even though none of the characters ever talk about or notice what is on their feet. I haven't submitted it to be published, as realize that even though it's on its fifth draft, it still needs work. But, I'd at least be able to tick writing a novel off on my bucket list, right? Wrong. I decided that the Great Unwritten Novel still lurked within me; all I had was a the Great Unwritten Novel's annoying cousin, the Mediocre Written Novel. I now wanted to write a fabulous novel. Plus, I found I had another story in me that I wanted to tell.
So, while on maternity leave the second time over the past year, I wrote my second novel. My second novel is longer than the first, and would come under the heading "speculative fiction". If it were ever published, the title would be written in thick, black text. I think it's better than the first, but haven't had a second opinion on that yet as my dutiful husband is currently in the process of reading it. Besides, I am clearly biased when it comes to looking at its merits.
Surely, by now, I'd feel like I could tick that item off my bucket list? Sadly, no. My second attempt isn't my Great Unwritten Novel either. It's my Learning the Craft Novel. Besides, I've now had an even better idea for a third novel, so feel that unless I finish the third novel, I can't tick this item off my bucket list at all! I am only about a third of the way through my third novel, but think I'm improving each time I go back to the drawing board. My third novel is Young Adult Dystopian, so if it ever got published it would probably be given a title that looked a bit like that found on the Hunger Games, although it's not like the Hunger Games at all.
Sadly, though. I am heading back to work so will have much less time and energy to write. As tempting as it is to have a third baby for a third shot at finally feeling like I've completed this goal, I have to concede that would probably constitute one of the worst reasons to have a baby ever. I plan to keep working at it in between doing everything else, but I suspect that this is one item on my bucket list that may still be a little way away from feeling done. But, who knows. Maybe one day, my Great Unwritten Novel will exist somewhere apart from the deep corner of my mind.