I have pasted the prologue from my WIP below. It is a time-split novel set in wartime Brisbane, Australia and also Leura, New South Wales in 1968, and Northern California in 1951. It is the story of two women, Vivien and Katherine, and the American serviceman they both love. The story may have a happy ending but then again it may not. I know how it ends but my readers will have to wait to find out.
The reason I am posting this short prologue is because writers who read my blog have expressed an interest in reading a sample piece. I hope you enjoy the prologue below.
On prologues: Keep them short, a page or less, if you are going to write them. A modern reader does not want to read pages and pages before Chapter One. I am not sure I will have this prologue (or any prologue) in my completed manuscript.
Brisbane, October 1944
By the time the young woman walked halfway up the drive the drizzling rain started to beat down and the sky was darkening. She straightened her headscarf and hurried on, the pea gravel hard under her wedge sandals. The high hedges hid the house from its neighbours and the smell of night jasmine from unseen gardens saturated the warm air.
Ahead, at the end of the long drive, was the dark outline of a weatherboard house with a spacious verandah and a garden, faintly discernible, filled with budding azaleas: red and pink, and rain-drenched.
The woman, despite her confident bearing, hesitated at the front door. Opening her handbag she took out a small torch and checked the brass name plate of the house. Reassured she was at Ashburton, she unknotted her headscarf, shook out her damp hair, and as if thinking of something else she rang the doorbell.
I have a collection of books written by Anais Nin collected over the last thirty years including her journals.
Anaïs Nin (Spanish: ana’is ’nin; born Angela Anaïs Juana Antolina Rosa Edelmira Nin y Culmell, February 21, 1903 – January 14, 1977) was an American author born to Spanish-Cuban parents in France, where she was also raised. She spent some time in Spain and Cuba but lived most of her life in the United States where she became an established author. She published journals(which span more than 60 years, beginning when she was 11 years old and ending shortly before her death), novels, critical studies, essays, short stories, and erotica. A great deal of her work, including Delta of Venus and Little Birds, was published posthumously.
“I am the most tired woman in the world. I am tired when I get up. Life requires an effort I cannot make. Please give me that heavy book. I need to put something heavy like that on top of my head. I have to place my feet under the pillows always, so as to be able to stay on earth. Otherwise I feel myself going away, going away at a tremendous speed, on account of my lightness. I know that I am dead. As soon as I utter a phrase my sincerity dies, becomes a lie whose coldness chills me. Don’t say anything, because I see that you understand me, and I am afraid of your understanding. I have such a fear of finding another like myself, and such a desire to find one! I am so utterly lonely, but I also have such a fear that my isolation be broken through, and I no longer be the head and ruler of my universe. I am in great terror of your understanding by which you penetrate into my world; and then I stand revealed and I have to share my kingdom with you.”
As promised the next verse of The Song of Wandering Aengus by William Butler Yeates:
When I had laid it on the floor I went to blow the fire a-flame,
But something rustled on the floor,
And some one called me by my name:
It had become a glimmering girl
With apple blossom in her hair
Who called me by my name and ran
And faded through the brightening air.
Aengus, patron diety of young women and men, was the Celtic god of love, beauty and of youth. His words were as sweet as honey, attracting bees and birds. He fell deeply in love with a beautiful girl he saw in a dream and passed through many trials, including turning himself into a swan, to win her love. The poet William Butler Yeats immortalised his search in The Song of Wandering Aengus, a song based on the Celtic folktale.
Next week I will give you the last verse of the song and I will write why the song is one of enchantment for me.
This past week has been busy with Christmas celebrations. I did not write a new chapter for my WIP as I had planned, instead I edited and researched earlier chapters. I also decided to write a short story about an interesting true life happening that I read about some years ago. I might not love the story enough to write a novel about it! If the short story is all I hope it will be I will then decide if I want to develop it further. I won’t discuss it as I find other people’s opinions can sometimes influence a writer’s perception of a story in the early writing stage. This coming week is also a busy one with New Year’s celebrations. I will endevour to write the new chapter of my WIP. It’s the last chapter (with a few chapters in the middle to write) and I can’t wait to read it when it’s finished! I am more than happy to email you privately if you have any questions regarding writing that I don’t cover in my blog. I always answer comments and have been in touch by email with people who have written to me, it’s great to correspond with people from all over the world. Every happiness for the New Year to you and your loved ones and I wish you lots of good writing, best, Elise
I love abandoned buildings. I like to imagine who once lived in this castle and their daily life. I prefer the castle’s original name.
The Chateau de Noisy (Chateau Miranda)
Chateau de Noisy is a beautiful castle in the open lands of Belgium. The castle is in a state of disrepair and despite several offers, the owners refuse to sell it. Details from the interior have been removed by vandals.
This week I edited some early chapters and found it rewarding. I connected to my characters in their younger years. I spent a lot of time re-writing sentences and improving the flow. Tomorrow (Sunday) I will start a new chapter. I have the outline but I read somewhere that a first draft is like pushing a pea up a hill with your nose! True indeed. Christmas is once again upon us. I love this time of year but if possible pause and think about someone you might know who will be alone on Christmas Day. Invite them to your Christmas gathering or take a small gift on Christmas morning so they know they are not forgotten. Christmas Day can be lonely for many people. We don’t have to be blood relatives to be family. Friends can be family. Sometimes the very best kind of family to have.
A favourite poem (song) is ‘The Song of Wandering Aengus’ by William Butler Yeats
I went out to the hazel wood,
Because a fire was in my head,
And cut and peeled a hazel wand,
And hooked a berry to a thread;
And when white moths were on the wing,
And moth-like stars were flickering out,
I dropped the berry in the stream
And caught a little silver trout.
This is the first verse and it gets better! I will copy the second verse for you next week.
I have always enjoyed reading fairytales and a favourite on my bookshelf is ’The Crock of Gold’ by James Stephens, with twelve illustrations in colour and decorative headings and tailpieces by Thomas Mackenzie. It was first published by Macmillan & Co. in 1912. My copy was first published by Macmillan Publishers in 1980. This book is one of the Macmillan Facsimile Classics Series . It is a beautiful collection of favourite illustrated classics that had long been unavailable in their original format. The books have distinctive gold or silver blocked jackets, (my copy is gold) and coloured tops and headbands. ‘The Crock of Gold’ is one of the great novels of the Irish Literary Renaissance, a unique work of fantasy and imagination that has long been a classic.
HAVE A HAPPY CHRISTMAS AND GOOD WRITING IN THE NEW YEAR…BEST, ELISE X
Happy Christmastide to all my Followers and to the people who might stray to this site over the holiday period.
This week I put my head down and my fingers to the keyboard and wrote about 4000 words. I was pleased with this but it could be improved! I spent yesterday sorting out a chapter that I had the outline for but had dumped lots of information in to from other sources. I had to sort it all out before I started writing. It is in order now and I’m pleased how this chapter is is progressing. I had a thought about my first two chapters after reading them again. I might swap them around. I will have to get a considered view on this from a writing friend (after Christmas). It was how I originally thought they would be placed in the finished novel. I’ll let you know what I decide. Today (Sunday) I will write this morning. I hope to do 1000 words which if I can do each day between now and the end of the year will give me a first draft. This will make me HAPPY! Some days I will not do any writing due to Christmas commitments but I will make sure to read from my draft on the days off. This will keep me in the story. Must away to have breakfast and get ready for the day. Good writing and reading (hope you get lots of books for Christmas presents) Elise
This week I wrote each day. I am pleased with the progress I have made on my WIP (work-in-progress). There are nineteen chapters (at the moment) and the story I outlined in January is closer to completion. I have edited about half the chapters, have one to finish, and one that might be deleted or changed in some way. The outline I wrote has been helpful in finding my way to this point. I hope to have the completed first draft of the novel finished by the end of this year and in January I will do a final edit. Christmas celebrations with my family and friends will slow the writing down. When the final draft is finished I will send it to the publisher in early February and keep my fingers crossed. I will then work on the television proposal with Dave Sabben. The siren song of another story is calling me although I am not sure if this will be the one I will write. The story will be set in Australia (as part of my WIP is) and will not be a time-split novel (as my WIP is) but set in one historical period. It will be based on a true story that I came across some years ago. The threads of the story have stayed with me since this time. I will need to research the historical facts and also visit the area where the story is set to take photographs and visit dwellings. I won’t discuss the story itself as I don’t want anyone to influence how I go about writing this story. Once I start the writing of it I will document my journey here. I will take several empty notebooks with me when I travel. I have six large notebooks of notes for my WIP. I don’t look at them I am writing but I will skim through them when I finish the final draft in case some gem of forgotten information is hidden there that I can use. When I start my research I read widely from contemporary diaries and novels and biographies set in the period. It is a constructive period of osmosis and the information surfaces as needed when I am writing. Someone once said (Lytton Strachey?) that they needed three lives: one for leisure and friends and family, one for reading, and one for writing, how true! Good writing to everyone…Best, Elise