Thursday, November 27, 2008

The Writing Bug

I can't explain to you how to write a novel. There are a number of very good books out there that can help you a bit with that. John Braine (Room At The Top, The Crying Game) wrote a good one, How To Write A Novel, and it certainly helped me, but no doubt there have been dozens of others since I began novel-writing.

Once you're seriously into it, you will know when it's right, when it's starting to fall into place. You will re-read bits of it and get a little shiver of pleasure at the words you've written. You will have an awful need to share it with someone else. It's fine to do that, but don't expect friends to be honest with you, or even particularly interested. Your style, your plot, may not be something that interests them. One friend who read my manuscript just couldn't get over the fact that it was my voice, and she found it difficult to read as a piece of fiction. Having said that, all writers weave some of themselves into their work. I am a lot like my protagonist, Karen, and many of the things she's done in her life are from my own experiences. But the story is not mine.

I am a huge fan of J.K.Rowling, and I am forced to conclude that she is one of the few writers who does not use her own life as "fill" for her characters. Well, not that I can identify.

So you are on your own with the book. Think about it at work, think about it while you're meant to be watching a movie, think about it when your kids are trying to tell you something, make scribbly little notes on whatever paper is to hand, and then, finally, get to your computer and get it all in there.

At that stage, I suggest you just let it be, just let the words flow, save it, and come back to it tomorrow. Then you can look at it fairly coolly, and make the changes necessary. The one thing I want to remind you of here, something that helped me with the whole daunting process: just three pages a day equals a total of 300 pages, or 75,000 words, in 3 to 4 months, allowing for occasional days away from the computer. Read that again. Allowing for the never-ending proofreading, and probably two or three re-writes, it wil be complete in one year. Of course, your agent will want you to mess around with it again, but that's when you're in the home stretch, we hope.

My novel is entitled Hafan Deg (Safe Harbour in Welsh).

Over the coming weeks, months - however long it takes - I intend to include my novel here, one chapter at a time. I believe the worst of the re-writes are complete, so there shouldn't be much to do, but perhaps you'll comment. You could become my editorial team, my literary critics.

I won't be doing this today, because you already have far too much to read.

I hope you hung in there. I like the company.