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Database Implementation Naivete

I am considering implementing a database in lisp for managing
information on chemicals. Till now I have been saving objects to files
and then reloading them. With the number of chemicals now approaching
2000 this process takes too much time. Additionally I never take
advantage of having all the information loaded.

My needs are quite minimal. No transaction restarts or SQL (yet).

I thought a file in a specified, fixed format could be used to store the
information. The FILE-POSITION function would be used to move around the
file. READ-CHAR, WRITE-CHAR, READ, WRITE, etc. used to retrieve and store

Being inexperienced in this area I have several questions:

1) Is this approach likely to work? I know commercial databases offer
numerous capabilities which probably make them very complex to implement
but can one start small?

2) Are there any references which discuss the implementation of simple
databases? I have found countless books on database architecture and
implementation issues but none on how to sit down and start coding.

I thank you in advance for any comments and advice.

Kevin G. Joback