This is my experience of the process… and though I am approaching the completion of “Novel No.5”, I can tell you this ‒ each novel is different and therefore the writing of each of them is too.
So, I am going to take my two recent creations and tell you this… I have found my progression taking leaps and bounds.
A Fine Profession was always about the character of this one young woman and taking her, plopping her in certain situations, and seeing how she would react in any given scenario. I spent weeks formulating her in my mind, considering how I could take her from one journey point to another. I fasted. I tempted myself with the need to write but I held off until I had her in my sights. The ability to restrict the flow of writing something that is burning its way out is explosive. The novel therefore splashed the pages so easily when I finally let myself loose.
The Chambermaid writes as though she’s in control of the direction of her life and she seems so sure of what is going on around her. Truth is, she doesn’t have a clue. The novel is a novel within a novel, with the heroine seemingly writing her own story and a private investigator reading and reacting to it.
She writes as though her experiences are fantastical. They’re not real, according to her. She thinks she is writing the fantasy. She may well consider herself a dirty version of Jane Austen. I shall let you decide! Her thoughts and feelings are true, but skewed, by the condition she suffers.
Now, this is where it gets interesting. The sequel A Fine Pursuit is another novel within a novel, but outside the novel too. The revelations that will spring forth will be crushing. I have to really shock and awe now. Whenever I read a novel, the only way I know it’s good is if I cry at the end or at some point during. If not, fuck it, there was no point. I am brutal!! I personally need to be moved. Like in The Color Purple. Damn, the end always gets me. I don’t even try to cry. It just happens. The ring slipping out of his hand in Schindler’s List. Feck, I wept quiet tears, for humanity and everything we are capable of, both good and bad. The thing is, I do not cry easily. My husband would tell you, “She’s hard as nails, our Sal.” I really am. I absolutely am. I hate chick flicks. I like action movies and ass-kicking. I spend hours pouring over books and films, seeking that something that might move me. Those answers I seek are out there somewhere and it’s why I read. The readers are why we do it, right? Those beautiful people who want enlightening and escapism.
So, when it came to starting A Fine Pursuit it was with a different philosophy. As I wrote Noah’s story, I knew what it was that he suffered. I knew what I was heading toward throughout the journey. But, people need to experience this book entirely through his eyes, as he does, as things happen. I felt like I had to go with the flow, just let it happen, so my writing is not as strained and we see truthful reactions from him to scenarios that he nor anyone else expects. Even I wasn’t sure where Noah was going to take me because he’s such a complex man, with such a horrific past behind him.
When I had finished my first draft, I knew I really had something, but I knew it still needed to be underpinned with more. It needed the markers along the way to make the reader think… almost goading the reader to realise what is bubbling beneath. What is Noah hiding that even he cannot admit to himself? I was just not feeling anything else though. I’d written 100K words and was wrung out from that effort, though I knew there was more. That’s when you need to separate yourself from the character, from the book, and take yourself into the mind of a reader. Ask, why did he do that? why isn’t that explained? why would people treat each other like that? You have to answer all the questions people will need to be sated. You have to enrich all those ideas you have with more mystery, more feeling, more insight into the people, the person, the man or the woman, and make them real.
You have to feel the novel as a whole. You cannot view it from beginning to end then. As the author, you have to be above the creation. You need to be able to read the book from any given point and think, how can I make this convert better? The puzzle gets scrambled inside your mind and you take the rough edges and smooth them out. I go back and add bits where they need adding. Close the gap, fill the holes, plant your seeds and then grow them. But all the while, I am still writing to provoke and challenge. But still let the reader have their own experience. Then, you give it to your initial readers and let them tell you what’s what.
It starts with a singular idea, with a character or a world to explode, but a novel is really so very long when you’re writing it. Until you have written one, you never know just how hard it is to write something so vast and complex that actually still makes sense when you get to the end! You have to get people’s mannerisms, their quirks, their humours, their foibles, strengths and characteristics they’ve had since birth! It’s a crazy thing writing a novel. It’s a schizophrenic thing and so akin to method acting.
I’d warn people that my writing is graphic and evocative, crude and sometimes hardcore, but there is every reason for that. There is every reason. This is art. This is subverting all the boundaries and bonds placed on us by society. This is putting the worst of the worst before you and then bringing out the best of the best. This erotica writer will corrupt you and make you question things you never did before. At the end of the day, you’ll be made to see that the sex isn’t the point.
So, this blog has been a bit overdue, but here it is. And I am afraid, that is all I can tell you for now. The editing is ongoing and the novel is shaping up, but anything could still happen. No spoilers. But, I am excited to see how my next work is received. I have tried to give it absolutely everything. I really have discovered… the more you write, the more you develop. Keep writing.