Nanowrimo week 4: “Winning” a novel and whether the Crown should be this gripping.

I did it. I wrote for fifty proper hours this month and I now have a draft of this story that seems to work (although I haven’t shown it to anyone yet).

Massive shout out to Rachel and Justine who’ve kept me company doing Nano with smaller children and jobs outside the home. Justine moved house last week and she’s still on track to finish.

The sense of achievement is wonderful. Having a very happy time, deciding what to do next. Hopefully it will involve colour-coding and stationery.

However, this is a novel I thought was working before. Yesterday, I was looking through Emma Darwin’s blog archives, as I often do when I’m stuck. Reading the comments at the end of an article from 2013, I came across my own. It turns out I was thinking about the same issue in the same book almost 8 years ago. Here’s hoping I’m right thinking I’ve sorted it now.

I’ve been thinking a lot about voice and responsibility recently. I am both a Royalist (specifically an Elizabethist) and Crown addict. Two things that should be incompatible. But there it is: I disapprove of what I’m doing to Her Majesty by boosting the show’s viewing statistics, but I can’t help myself. Maybe because I over-identify. While I make my own food most of the time and can walk around ASDA without being recognised, I too am a privileged white woman with four children. I also love a forward-thinking man with strong opinions I don’t always agree with.

Everybody I know is watching the show. And we all have an opinion. It’s caught our imagination. Because Peter Morgan the writer has curated the events of a whole family to make an epic, fascinating story.

But should he have done this? I’m not sure. After all, these are real people. And real people make big mistakes. Most of us don’t have a global audience reliving them thirty to forty years later and judging us.

It is a matter of public record that neither Charles or Diana were perfect and their marriage was an ill-conceived disaster. But the programme is semi-fictional. It doesn’t pretend to be a balanced documentary and doesn’t really cover the good things about either of them. Their individual philanthropy, much of it quiet and off stage in real life, isn’t needed for the story.

It’s made me think about my own writing. No conclusions yet.

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