So, last week, I finally finished the first section of the novel: 12 chapters of work established and creating a world, characters and floating ideas. I have sent it off to a couple of people for some feedback and may still send it to some more. Hey, if you’re keen, drop me a line and we’ll see!
What is immediately clear is that I now need to leap into the meet of the story. The ground work has been done and I need to start preparing the meet for the roast, sharpening the knives. The guests are all invited… blah blah blah. Truth be told, this is here the thing really will HAVE to start to take on a life of its own! I have always sneered slightly when I have read authors say that. But in a weird way, it appears to be true here.
Kicking on From Beginning To The Real Deal
OK, I confess, I am nervous! I have started about 6 novels before. Or at least have the beginnings of about that many scattered around hard drivers and cloud servers. I have gotten this far only once before. I finished that book. But in its current form it will never see the light of day.
It’s just too superficial, too clunky and a tad disappointing. But that’s what you get, I realised, when all you do is follow a story line from start to finish. Sp this time around, I have spent literally years working out things like back story, structure, plots, themes and characters. These are the bones without which a long body of work cannot remain standing.
Narrative, Plot and Writing
There is nothing new under the sun, they say. There are only really 4 stories anyway, they say. Always something new out of Africa I think! But what I have on my side is who I am, how I wrote and where I write from. The story is in more than just my ideas about who does what to and with whom and when. It’s in the detail, the setting, the world.
Almost inadvertently, I am going to going on a lot of faith and trust in my story. This is greatly exciting. As I observed in my last post, this means that the ‘now’ that I currently inhabit is being woven through every step of the narrative in an unplanned way. It means ‘now’ is colouring all these notions that I have been toying with in terms of the book for 3 years, and in terms of my life, even for decades.
An Autobiographical, Living Document
They say that first novels are always autobiographical. Some say that there is no such thing as fiction, and that it I always an exploration of self. I know that some are going to see me strongly in the book and that many will read from what they know of me into meaning in its words. I cannot escape that.
In truth, I do not seek to re-present myself in some literary form in the books pages. Rather, I seek to explore my world through many eyes and in exploring, understand reveal. THAT is autobiographical. Not in the sense that it records actual episodes of my life but rather that it synthesises them into something else.
Seasons Change, Sections Alter
I suppose you can officially say that it is spring in South Africa now, although it still feels like we are living through and extended death for winter. As it comes to its own end and we start to look ahead to true summer during October and November, I am moving into part two of the book.
In the novel, part 2 is autumn, with all those connotations of slowing down, introspection, decision. All those TS Eliot-like ruminations on winter, death and endings ahead of us. To be honest, I hope to write my way through it fairly fast! To get back into summer with you, the real people!
A New Beginning
I am back in Bloemfontein where I will be for 2 solid weeks. And today I started part two of the novel. I am in a new guest house. I need to draw new inspiration to continue with a job that has been going on for a while and for a new tract of writing land. I need to refocus and re-energise.
But I have inspiration. And I have momentum. And I have purpose and vision on my side. It’s way too early for contemplation. First the manuscript must be finished, and THEN revisited!