Writing An Organic Novel Which Becomes a Living Organism

  • What Is An Organic Novel?

An organic novel is perhaps the hardest type of book you could ever write. The author might have a vague idea of what they’re writing and why, but largely they’ve allowed themselves to go with the flow – starting with a basic story arc and adding to the flow as and when.

I’ve sat here and written organic novels and planned novels, so I know from experience that the organic novel is much harder to master but produces the better result.

A lot of authors will tell you they need to hear their characters’ voices to be able to write the story but in my experience, the story comes as strongly to me as the characters and no matter where the characters want to go, you, the author are in charge of their destiny. When a reader gets angry because the author killed off their favourite character, they might assume the author felt nothing when they killed off that character. They’d be wrong. The author feels the loss more than anyone and the author cuts themselves open to put difficult issues and trials on a page. As an author, it’s the hardest thing to do to say to yourself, “This is going to hurt but it must be done and I must go through with it…” Tackling difficult issues HURTS. Always emotionally, sometimes even physically when you’ve been sat in the same position all day and your fingers just won’t pen that difficult scene in the right way.

I don’t use beta readers. I discuss my books with my editor husband and nobody else. My best novel yet might be called Tainted Lovers but I didn’t allow it to become ‘tainted’ by too many cooks spoiling the broth.

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  • Art Is Organic

For me, art can’t be pre-planned; art is giving half of yourself over to the unknown and hoping for the best. It’s letting go of control and allowing your spirit to whirl around a black hole for as long and as painfully as you can take. In the process of writing the organic novel, you might be at war with yourself, or your editor, or yourself and your editor simultaneously, yourself and what you think readers want, yourself and yourself (if like me you sort of method write and start talking with the character who says, “I’d never fucking do that.”

Art is feeling the emotions of a story and not only subscribing to them but living them and absorbing them so that you know other human beings will feel the journey too. It’s hoping beyond hope that something so innately creative and “out there” might actually make sense to a bunch of individuals you don’t even know from Adam.

Art is knowing that the first line doesn’t have to be the best because a book is several lines. Which make a whole. It’s knowing when to make the sentences count, at what junctures do you need to dredge your soul, and how sometimes using greyscale so that when people do transform, it happens in multiple rainbows finally feeding the starved souls of readers ‘hoping beyond hope’.

Art is writing what isn’t pretty, but is necessary to the story. It’s about history, about humanity, about not lying to your reader about what life is like beyond their own castle walls.

  • The Organism

Writing something from the gut means things you put down on paper might repulse some and delight others. It’s true and therefore everyone will have an opinion over something so solid, which you’ve written down in granite and therefore, cannot be changed. The reader might will the story to change but the author (bearing in mind I’ve always been told be careful how you use words – and I ignore that notion continually) cannot change that story because by pressing that publish button, they’ve already put it in stone.

What makes a book an organism is when the author leaves little crevices in a story for the reader to allow their own subplots to slide in. Many people become fond of side characters in books, because they’re people we can imagine for ourselves. The protagonists are often crafted in such a staunch way that they’re the pegs holding down the tent, the driving force of a book – so set in stone – they cannot always be changed. Heroes and heroines can lose their mystery the more story we give them and the more we peel away their shells to overcome each obstacle.

My most recent full-length novel Tainted Lovers was written organically and in some respects, I fought to keep it that way. I didn’t just fight with myself, or my editor, but I fought with every aspect of this novel and it was a fight to the finish line. I wrote about keeping it a standalone in this blog and looking back now, I am so glad I won that particular fight because making this a standalone book has created a living organism which readers now give life to with their reactions and their interpretations, plus lingering questions even as silly as, “Why did he never take his socks off?”

I took some awful issues to task in this novel, one of them being domestic abuse. More than three women who suffered domestic abuse themselves contacted me to say that the book reflected exactly how they felt when they themselves were in that situation. Some of these women had to take a few days and more afterwards to reflect on the story they’d read. I really never even considered whether I was doing justice to women in the same position as my female lead, Adrienne. I just wrote a story I felt in my heart and gut was real.

I love a story which keeps the pages turning. I love commercial fiction. Some books you forget quickly but they were good at the time. I write mainstream stuff as well as literary stuff. I like a balance. But sometimes, an idea comes along and you have to pursue it, no matter the cost. It’s a GIFT and a privilege that I get to do what I do.

Art has to reflect real life, or it won’t touch your readers. Art has to explode life… in a way you might not feel brave enough to do yourself. It’s why we read, why the romance and thriller genres remain the biggest selling genres in the world. Put the two together and you might just get a book to finally knock the socks off David Lewis, the man who once upon a time made love wearing socks…

I finish with one of the reviews I read of Tainted Lovers only yesterday:

on 18 May 2016
I really am not sure what to say about this book, the writing was exceptional and the storyline like nothing I’ve read before. This book consumed me day and night, when I wasn’t reading it, I was wondering what else could possibly happen to Ade and David. These characters are beautifully broken; with dark secrets they fear will end their relationship this story spans over a decade, and really makes you think about a love that is so deep and all consuming, and had me asking myself whether I have ever really felt such a strong connection.

There were so many twists that you just will not see coming. This book will not only touch your heart but will invade your soul and leave you reeling. The author went to great lengths to make this story and the characters complex yet completely relatable; and the poetry throughout, beautiful. I loved Ade’s strength and David’s passion, and together they made this story the beautiful masterpiece that it is.

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“They Say I’m Doing Well” Blog Tour – Stop #19 – Muriel Garcia

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hope [hohp]

noun

The feeling that what is wanted can be had or that events will turn out for the best.

 

Hope, my family always told me to believe in hope, no matter what the circumstances. But how can you remain positive when everything around you falls apart? How do you face life when it only gets worse?

My life hasn’t been easy. My parents divorced when I was two and, from what my mother told me, it was because my father was beating her.

Over the next couple of years, my mother had a new boyfriend every week until she met my stepfather. He wasn’t a good man either. He was a drug addict who used my mother as an ATM to feed his addiction. My mother was stupid enough to believe he loved her, which gave me a negative outlook on men, even if I still wanted to believe there was someone good for me out there.

The moment I turned sixteen, I left and never looked back. It’s been ten years and I don’t know if my mother ever tried to find me.

I managed to make something of my life; I found a job, a place to live and a boyfriend who quickly became my husband. My life became the dream I always hoped it would be, but it turned into a nightmare the first time my husband hit me.

A friend of ours had uploaded a picture of me dancing platonically with another man onto Facebook. My husband couldn’t make the party because he had to work late so the guy took pity on me sitting by myself. The moment my husband saw the picture he stormed over to me and slapped me across the cheek. He told me that it was my fault, that I must have done something to seduce my dance partner because there was no way he would have danced with me otherwise. And like a fool, I believed him

After that things calmed down for a while and I let myself hope that everything was back to normal, but the look of disgust in his eyes every time he drank chilled my blood. I didn’t know how to get away; I had nowhere to go and the few friends I had were our mutual friends so I couldn’t risk asking for help and them telling my husband where I had gone.

I tried to keep myself by escaping inside books, every love story gave me some hope to cling on to and dream about. All I have ever wanted was a loving relationship with a man who would look at me with adoration instead of disgust; who would want to spend time with me instead of ignoring me.

His repertoire of abuse developed into manipulation and mental abuse and I quickly became a shell of my former self. I couldn’t do what I wanted or go where I wanted without his approval. It took me a while to find the courage to leave him but my decision was made for me when he hit me the second time. I had been quietly reading a book whilst drinking a glass of wine when he drunkenly stormed into the living room. He then pulled the book from my hands and threw it in the open fire before yelling at me and insulted me; telling me that I didn’t deserve him and was nothing but a bit of skirt. By this stage he had me by my hair and he dragged me to stand. I remember seeing him pull his hand behind me before he struck, connecting with my face so hard that I lost my balance. He carried on screaming at me until his voice became hoarse and he stormed out of the apartment. It was in that moment, sitting on the floor with my arms around my knees waiting to see if he was coming back to finish the job, that I decided to pack my bags and disappear, once again. It seems history is destined to repeat itself.

Thanks to my husband, I lost any hope I had of finding happiness one day.

People always told me that I had done well for myself, I had a good life and was lucky to have a husband like him. Little did they know what an abusive man he was behind closed doors.

How can I be happy when the people who are supposed to love me only manage to hurt me?

Ten years ago I left the only house I’d ever known without regrets and, three days ago, I did it again.

I drove aimlessly for a couple of days and spent the time thinking about those books I love to read. They are my only happiness and the only thing that gives me a semblance of hope.

Tonight is the first night that I’ve allowed myself to do something that I want to do. I want to live and be myself, even just for one night.

Earlier today, I was handed a flyer for a new art gallery opening when I was walking around town. It’s not really the type of thing I’m into, but why not go anyway? I can do whatever I want to here without worrying about the consequences.

I make my way to one of the hostesses and take a glass of champagne. I don’t particularly like it, but it’s free so I can’t really complain. I take a sip and smile, it’s not as bad as I thought. Looks like tonight won’t be as bad as I thought. I feel happy, which is a first in a really long time. I walk around the gallery and take my time to really appreciate the paintings. I don’t know who the artist is, but they have a real talent.

There are so many people around that it’s making me a bit uneasy. Is anyone judging me? Do they know I’m poor and have no idea what to do with my life? I wonder if they can see the telling yellow tint on my cheek where my husband hit me.

I spend most of my time asking myself hundreds of questions about my life. Living alone doesn’t scare me and maybe I should have spent more time alone after I left my mother, instead of jumping into a relationship with the first guy I met who I thought might be my Prince Charming. What scares me the most is not living my life to the fullest and not being happy. I’ll be twenty-seven in a few days and I’m alone, homeless, jobless. I’ve been stood in front of a painting of a woman looking morose for quite some time now. Her long, auburn hair covers her shoulders and her big green eyes fixed on an invisible spot behind me. A dark shadow covers the corner of her lips and stretches over her pink cheek. She looks vulnerable, like she’s just lost everything. She looks like me.

I draw in a deep breath as the realization hits me. I quickly turn around and accidentally walk straight into someone. I look up at the man I just walked into and apologize before running out of the room. I need to put as much distance as I possibly can between the painting and myself. That painting is the mirror that I’ve refused to look in for years, unable to face my own distress and sadness. It’s ironic really, I judged my mother harshly for what happened to her but then let it happen to myself. Granted I left but I didn’t leave straightaway, I was sure he would change.

I take another deep breath when I finally get outside. I’m a mess, my makeup is running down my face, it’s cold and snowing, and I’m only wearing a tank top and a skirt. I wrap my arms around my body in an attempt to warm myself but it’s in vain. I turn around, ready to go back inside, when I bump into the same man I just walked into. I look up into his eyes and lose myself. In that moment, I forget everything. I forget that my mother never loved me, I forget that my husband didn’t either and I forget that I have nothing.

The stranger is looking at me as if I’m the most beautiful thing he’s ever seen and it is in this moment that my hope returns.

Muriel Garcia © 2016

author bio

Muriel Garcia grew up in Belgium. She loves music, tattoos, hot tattooed men, travelling, and cooking. She always had an overly imaginative and creative mind but never thought of writing a book up until a couple of months ago. Now she couldn’t imagine not writing stories that are near and dear to her heart.
You can follow her on:
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/authormurielgarcia
Twitter: https://twitter.com/muriel__g
Instagram: http://instagram.com/itsmurielg
Facebook group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/384126741737037/

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Thank you so much for taking part Muriel!

To see the full list of authors taking part in this month-long blog tour, [click here]

To find out what “They Say I’m Doing Well” is all about, [click here]

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