From Sept I will have a fair bit of time on my hands that I can't do much with (extra work is financially unviable and I only do 2 days a week currently). Anyway I have thought about it a few times over the years and have decided I might as well give it a go.
I have done soon investigations and it seems it would be a good idea to get lots of reading in over the next 8 months to help me on my way. So what I need from you ladies is a list of some great novels you can think of - modern, classic, fiction, non-fiction plus any poetry. I am a big reader and have done a lot over the years but due to having young children the last few years I have mainly read 'easier' types of fiction.
I think I would go for a big fat anthology of poetry from different eras - then if there's any you especially like you can get a collection of that poet. My personal favourites would be Yeats, Auden, Donne, Rochester - but tastes are so individual
Orwell - 1984, Kafka - The Trial,
My minds gone blank now - but I'm sure you will get loads of great suggestions.
Sometimes if I want to tackle a great big classic, I get it on audiobook - then you can listen while you do the dishes etc. makes it a bit less daunting
Persuasion. Okay so it is also one of my favourite books but the writing is so neat, any book that carries you away with the characters so you feel anger, sadness and happiness is worth the research.
Also, if you could, the Open University does a fantastic creative writing course, the Level 2 is best. Really helps you open up your ideas, gets you in to the writing habit. I've just graduated but would gladly do that one course over and over again until they got sick of me!
I write for pleasure - am unpublished due to blatant cowardice and laziness, but I've written 11 full length novels (working on number 12, they are 4 trilogies, each about 190,000 words), 5 series of novellas of about 40,000 words each, 10 to a series, and 4 series of very long short stories (about 25,000 words each) since 1997. I find it is an addiction. The stories just seem to want to be written, an idea or a character comes into my head compelte with how they look, their voice, their past and then the rest just builds around that. One of the main reasons I haven't pursued publication is that I would rather write something new than trim the rough edges off somethin I have already written so that it is fit for human consumption. My genre is fantasy/alternative reality fiction.
I agree with twolengths that the desire to write the story is the start of everything, with me it literally gets so that I can't not do it.
If you want to read a good book ABOUT writing, I warmly recommend Stephen King's On Writing. No matter when you stand on his books (and he is quite frank about the critical status of some of them) the way he writes about writing and the writer's life is engrossing. He even makes grammar quite interesting.
That moment in life when you start realizing that you are actually ready for writing a novel is very exiting, and especially when you know that you have a lot of sources for it. However the most complicated part would be actually start writing it, and now that would be the moment to figure out how to write a novel . Also there is a good source at www.uclaextension.edu/pages/Course.aspx?reg=Y6438 that could also give you some tips on how to write a novel.