About two years ago I decided to write a novel. My previous effort (note the singular) had issues, and rather than even try to revise it, I started all over. To tell the tale of how the novel came about I have to go back in time just a bit.
About three years ago my husband, who was in his mid-seventies at the time, complained one day that he was bored.
“Sounds like a personal problem,” I responded. I certainly was not bored. I had just built a website for Silver Pen Writers, and the other Directors and I of this non-profit had just launched it. Kept me plenty busy. Plus I was still working some at a real (i.e., paying) job.
“I’m so bored,” said my husband the next day, and about a week later, and another day after that.
“You need a hobby. Something other than mowing the grass every two days and spending money on your collections. Maybe write your memoirs about your military experiences.”
“I don’t like hobbies much. Don’t really like to write.” He walked out of the room to, yet again, clean the kitchen.
“How about pigeon racing,” I suggested that evening. “You seemed to have enjoyed it back when we were first married.”
“It’s a lot of work. Let me think about it.” And think he did. Little did I know then where this suggestion would lead.
When we were first married (almost 40 years ago), he spent his evenings and weekends building a pigeon coop. He was raising pigeons before our oldest daughter was born a few months later. We survived raising two daughters, two jobs, and my return to school along with raising and training racing pigeons. We finally had to give away our pigeons when my husband started working out of town for weeks, and sometimes months, on end. I figured if we could handle it back then, how hard could it be.
“What are your thoughts about pigeon racing?” I asked about a month later.
“I’ll call some of the old racers and see what is happening.”
Another month passed. I heard him on the phone a few times talking about pigeons and racing. Soon we were building a coop to house the pigeons he had ordered, or that had been given to him by old racing buddies. One coop turned into two and a storage shed (I thought the storage shed was for my gardening supplies, but it was soon overrun by feed, nesting material, and other things essential to raising and breeding pigeons).
You might ask, how does this all relate to my novel? About a year into the pigeons, fascinated by them, I decided to write a novel in which they would play an important part. Maybe a novel about a medieval battle where a pigeon delivers a crucial message just in the nick of time to save the hero.
I played with the novel idea for a while, writing short stories about a boy who cared for pigeons in a medieval castle. It would be a young adult novel with the boy protagonist saving the day with his much maligned pigeons. Then I learned that most dovecotes (medieval pigeon coops) were cared for by girls. This discovery changed everything.