Having just completed the writing, editing, and proofing process for Of Honest Fame–now some weeks since–I have found myself in an unusual frame of thought: reflective (not unusual in itself) but also silent. I have felt that I have little to say and even less inclination to say that little.
Part of this is, of course, unadulterated exhaustion.
Finishing a book is always harder work than one bargained for. Much harder.
The final weeks were those of sleeping little, working for six to eight hour stretches, napping again and working again. And the body clock, such as it was, got lost somewhere in early August.
Then too, I have also been recovering from a bout of illness. And yes, it’s probable the two are interlinked.
So rather than talking, blogging, reading, or even thinking, I have been sleeping. And when awake, trying to fill that cavernous well of thought and poetry and plot and nuance which I appear to have emptied into the final chapters of Of Honest Fame.
It is a novel about which I have thought deeply over the years. And I don’t just mean in terms of plot or characters. But in terms of underlying issues, those historical events which move me often to tears and have haunted me, the less well known aspects of the Napoleonic wars which I have felt desperately needed to be raised and considered.
It’s a novel for which I felt I had to break all the modern novel templates and for which I had to search out other earlier formats. Whereas with May 1812, I always worked with the shades of Fielding, Trollope and O’Brian at my shoulder, for Of Honest Fame I have needed Dickens, Tolstoy and Hopkins close at hand.
As a work, it ended up both as I expected and quite, quite differently.
I have had to learn to write differently. Which also means I have had to learn to look at and consider the world differently and more thoughtfully.
Characters which initially I had anticipated would be among the ‘heroes’ didn’t necessarily finish that way–their lives and their reality intruded to add elements of honesty that I might, as a novelist, have discarded. Other characters which I had not initially perceived as essential took over that share of the lime-light which was unoccupied.
And there were, of course, character developments which had never been any part of the original synopses, but had surprised me when I realised they’d come to pass–happily surprised I’m glad to say.
So there it is, the reasons such as they are for the silence. Nothing wrong, just a need to trim the wick and refilling the oil of the inner lamp.
On Friday, Of Honest Fame begins its journey from the printers to the distributors and onward to the booksellers and hence into your hands. I hope you enjoy it.
And yes, already I am beginning the new journey of a new novel…the first few pages are written, the research is begun, I now know at least three of the central characters, they haven’t yet started speaking, but they will before long. And I will hope to stay silent enough to hear and to listen to all they have to say.