Day 69 of writing my novel in public
I’ve started something scary here on Medium. It’s something I’ve done before, but never in public. I have a process that I’m going to follow, and I’d like to share it with you.
If you want to follow the journey from the start, go here.
If you missed yesterday’s, you can find it here.
Day 69 — Cakery
I feel that this is perhaps my weakest area, how to finish the novel. So I’m embracing the thought that this will definitely need work, but it is better to get to the end of the first draft in order to assess what I have.
This should be the stage where I am wrapping up all the story threads from earlier in the book. Every time I have asked a question, or opened up a story loop, it creates something that might be closed in this section. I don’t want it to be too neat and answer everything, but I also don’t want it to feel unfinished.
In order to not spend too long agonising over this, I’m going to write some of today’s scene in summary. I know that Charlie and Sandy open a cakery next door to Mr Needem’s bakery and that it is successful. I need to structure the ending, going back to my two guidebooks to see how it is done. But at the moment, I’m going to write forward and worry about this in the revisions. I expect that the first and last chapters will need the most attention.
These are the story threads for today.
- After the launch and the cupcake fiasco, Charlie goes to see if Mr Needem will sell his cupcakes. He agrees to open a cakery next door.
- Charlie bakes his cupcakes for his own cakery, and people love them.
Against the clock
To keep the words coming, I’m writing against the clock. Setting the timer for fifteen minutes, I write until it goes off. Three fifteen minute bursts are enough to write 750 words.
Later that day Charlie went to visit Mr Needem. The bakery was busy as always, the cafe full of chattering customers. Mr Needem had his latest offer on show. He had created his own croissant.
“I didn’t do it before, because it’s French and I’ve never really understood them, but they do a great job over there. Fresh bread every day, so you’ve got to admire them for that.”
He put a twist of pastry into Charlie’s hand.
Charlie sniffed at it. A pale yellow, figure of eight smell drifted from it. It actually smelled quite good. With the smallest bite he could manage, Charlie tasted it. Warm buttery pastry melted in his mouth. He took another bite. Then another, savouring the flaky goodness.
“Of course I’ve added my own touch to their recipe,” said Mr Needem.
“What’s that?” said Charlie.
“Well, the French love their garlic don’t they, so I’ve made sure it had plenty.”
Now it had been pointed out to him, Charlie was suddenly aware of a sharp white smell that had been hidden under the pale yellow. The more he chewed the stronger it became until it was all he could taste. The sweetness of the pastry and the sharpness of the garlic clashed. Charlie swallowed the last of the pastry. He tried to sound genuine as he said, “Thank you.”
“No problem, Charlie. Anything for the hero of the day.”
Charlie didn’t feel like a hero, but he didn’t argue against Mr Needem. There was something that he wanted to ask, and if Mr Needem thought he was a hero then he might be more likely to say yes.
“You saw everything that happened,” he said.
“Yes. After my float finished the parade, I joined the crowd to see what the fuss was. I had one of your cupcakes in my hand, ready to eat when it was snatched up by those birds. Lucky thing eh, or I’d have become like Miasmus, a wind machine.”
“I didn’t do that. The mixture I made for Miasmus was fine, he added the stinky stuff afterwards,” said Charlie.
“I know. Though I wouldn’t have blamed you anyway. You have to be willing to experiment, try new things, and be willing to have them fail. You’d be amazed but very few of my baking experiments make it beyond the trial stage.”
“Really?” said Charlie, the taste of garlic still strong in his mouth.
“I could get pretty disheartened, but I keep going. You never know when I’m going to have a breakthrough.”
“Actually, I wanted to talk to you about trying something new,” said Charlie. “I’ve got an idea, and I thought maybe you’d be open to it.”
A few months later, Charlie’s idea had become a reality. Next door to Mr Needem’s bakery Charlie had created a brand new store, along with his sister Sandy and a few helpers. The opening day he’d managed to attract a crowd who had been keen to try his cupcakes after having them snatched out of their hands at Miasmus’ launch. Charlie had worried that the effect they had on Miasmus would put people off, but obviously enough people believed that Charlie and Sandy had not been the ones responsible for that part.
The front of the shop had a similar look to Mr Needem’s bakery, and complemented it very well. They had called it Quick Cakery, and their aim was to sell out within a few hours of opening the doors. In the windows Charlie had suspended cake stands, that Staghorn helped to design, that made it look like the cupcakes were flying in formation.
The crowd outside snaked its way down the street and when they finally opened the doors, there was a surge forwards. Staghorn kept them in order, blocking the way with her knitting needles. Woofy helped, barking whenever somebody stepped out of line.
Charlie and Sandy manned the shop, boxing up the cupcakes as people ordered them. Within a couple of hours they had cleared the shelves of every flavour of cupcake. Chocolate with honeycomb, vanilla and strawberry, lemon and salted caramel, all gone. Charlie turned the sign round to closed and all of them retreated into the back room where the cakes themselves were made.
Tomorrow there would be a whole new set of customers to serve and they needed to start baking for them. Fortunately they had a whole army of bakers to help. Ones that Sandy had recruited.
This doesn’t feel right, but sometimes you have to write what is wrong in order to discover the correct ending. I will not panic and decide that the entire project is a waste of time (though it is tempting to do so). Instead, I’ll accept that I can write an ending for the moment and come back to it with fresh eyes and decide what I need to change later.
Total words so far 38,743.
Tomorrow I’ll write the last scene where we see how Charlie sees Sandy now.
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