06 June 2010

What a Novel Idea!

Reader, I am writing a novel. Or rather, I have been writing a novel for quite some time: first actual writing, then having it on the back burner, and now actual writing again.

Writing a novel, reader, is haaaaaaard work. I have, in fact, written one before, long ago, and it was thought to be good: it got an agent, and it got sent out to publishers. But no publisher took it, and I'm not surprised, because when I came to rewrite it in the cold fall of 2008 (see how I just got a little literary there?) I realised it wasn't very good at all, and I had to add to, alter, and generally improve it substantially. And that was haaaaard work. The thing about novels is, the beginning is pretty difficult, but it's doable; the end is easy; but the middle is a vast and spreading mystery.

ANYway (BUEno), writing a novel is even an odder thing, I think, if you are a literary critic by trade, because you (or at least I) can't help wondering what critics might find in your own text. So I thought tonight, What would critics have to say about what I write? Well, if we ignore my short stories (which always feature a dead person) and just work on the novels, I guess one thing they'd find notable is that the protagonists of both my novels are only children. Is this wish fulfillment, or avoidance (no sisterly relationships to have to make up), or simply self-centredness? I am very self-centred, and I'm inclined to think the last, although I think it may also be simple disinterest. I've edited my sister out of my life that she rarely impinges on my consciousness (realising that gives me enormous pleasure, actually. That's a great hassle expunged).

I think a critic might also notice that both my protagonists live in houses. They don't live in flats, and they're both married. I think this is because I believe married people own houses. Obviously many married people live in flats, but in my imagination married couples live in houses - it's where they belong (a couple of years ago I also discovered, to my distress, that I believe husbands are older than wives: this despite the fact that I'd had a long relationship with someone younger).

But aside from the flats and the only children, my books don't have much in common. Well, the protagonists are both women and both about my age, but those are scarcely
remarkable. Alas, I am a dud for future critics. So perhaps it's just as well that I haven't published.

Oddly, I remember now that the most subtextually fruitful thing I ever wrote was a story about two brothers, one of whom ended up killing the other. Jennifer was convinced it was about me and my sister, until I told
her I'd written about the Oasis brothers!

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