I am pleased to report that the novel I started in July, which still has the title ‘New Work’, is now finished. That is to say, the first draft is finished: I shall now begin re-reading and thinking about where I might pitch it. There are novel competitions but these require a certain length and sometimes a certain style – and besides, the whole thing has to be perfect before you send it in. Whereas if you pitch an idea to a publisher or an agent you can regard it as a work in progress. I used to find it very daunting; the idea of finishing a novel, getting it perfect and then sending it out to publishers where you have to go through the whole process of waiting, wondering, hoping and despairing before suddenly! – absolutely nothing happens. It’s a very life-sapping process.
The novel tops out at 93,400 words, which translates to about 280 pages. A reasonable length, I think, especially since I have the opposite problem from most writers, which is writing at length. Most writers seem to have trouble being brief; I have trouble being long. My instinct is to shorten everything; make it snappy, get in and get out again. Why? I suppose because I fear the reader’s boredom. It’s the same when I perform a poem: I scan the audience and if I see the slightest sign of disengagement, I panic and start to rush. So, all things considered, 93 thousand words is not too bad.
What’s it about? I hear you cry. Well, as I now realise (I never know what a novel’s about before it’s finished and sometimes not even then) it’s about a woman of around my age who is in some kind of coma; a state where life is arrested. She begins to reminisce and for some reason cars figure largely in her narrative: turns out she’s been hit by a car and hovers between life and death. This liminal ‘in-between’ state is very significant as she looks back on her life and towards the end, begins to look forward and wonder about death and any possible afterlife. Languages and translation play an important part in the novel and she tries to imagine what country the dead live in and what language (or languages) they might speak. But then there’s a twist; a decision, or a realisation that her time here is not over and that she needs to return. And that’s how it ends.
I haven’t thought of a title yet. I think it was good not to give it one until it was finished, though: previously I’ve been tempted to give my novels a title much too early in the game, and that title has defined and limited what the novel was about. ‘New Work’ is a good name for now.
Hang on, what happened to the Insecure Writer’s Blog? Shouldn’t they have blogged a couple of weeks ago? No, I forgot – it’s up to us to blog and link to their blog. Well, I forgot.
Argh! I swore never to use that phrase!