There’s an awful lot of advice and information and opinion out there on writing novels these days. And then there’s all the writing and rewriting and recasting and rewriting and cutting and writing and rewriting that seems to be the norm once one has an agent and then once one has a publisher…
But…and I do realise this is entirely against everything we’re being told these days…but, I’m beginning to wonder if there hasn’t been some confusion somewhere about what a writer is.
One thing I’m not is an entertainer. (Obviously, I can only speak for myself.)
I won’t do whatever somebody tells me to do just because they think it will draw some punters in. That means no to reality shows; no to telling my life-story to anyone (it’s frankly pretty boring); no to stripping off in a panto; and no to writing the book someone else tells me to write because they believe that’s what the market currently demands.
Because I don’t write to make money, well, at least not books. I write, probably, compulsively. Because I believe I have something to say. Or perhaps it’s that the characters in my head who have something to say and they won’t shut up until I let them out onto the page. (And even then, it’s iffy…)
Yes, I can tell a good story. Yes, I probably can entertain my readers. But I’m just as interested in my subtext, in my themes as I am in characters, dialogue, setting or action. And I am interested, above all, in writing breath-catching beautiful prose–and for me, if that’s lacking, then I have nothing.
Yes, I sort of have a synopsis…but no sooner do I think I’ve worked it out, than some new character wanders in and out goes what I think was going to happen and that’s when it all really gets interesting.
And all of this is what makes a novel an organic thing–one which hangs together as a whole, un-split-up-able. It’s not a conglomerate which can be broken up for body parts. It’s all of one fabric, one seamless garment…
They’re remarkable things, novels. And I don’t think we appreciate what it takes to write one nearly enough. I don’t think we appreciate what it takes to be a writer either. It’s not just another string to an entertainer’s bow. It’s a craft, a skill, an art, a passion. Great novels are loved and sweated and nurtured into being.
At least, that’s what I think…