OK, ’twas bad. I only wrote about 500 words of my novel this week (but I exercised a lot). What I wrote was okay, but made me realise that I need to go back and tweak something in Chapter Three. I am constitutionally against going back and tweaking – forward, ho! being the motto – so this post stands as a note to self.
I had the first five chapters up on Authonomy, but have taken them down again. Authonomy is an experiment by Harper Collins where unpublished writers can showcase their work with the hope of attracting agents and publishers. The site is in beta at the moment, and is mostly being used by writers with works in progress to get tips and advice from other writers. After a week there, and one or two useful tips (thanks, Litlove), I decided that I am not ready to have unfinished work in the public eye. I would rather put something up when I am satisfied that it is complete, or follow the standard route of finding an agent.
I am planning my writing retreat in two weeks’ time. A dear friend has offered me the use of her flat in Kreuzberg, Berlin, and I think I am going to take her up on it for a long weekend towards the end of the month. Just the amount of time I will have free for writing on the train alone makes me shiver, let alone mornings, afternoons and evenings with nothing to do but feed my body with food and my soul with writing. The thrill is almost too much to bear, dear readers.
I was very moved this week seeing a group of farm workers (probably strawberry pickers), clearly shipped in from somewhere east of here, spending their hard-earned euros in Aldi on cheap chocolate and coffee to take home as presents. The chapter I’m working on deals partly with someone hoiked out of her culture and thrust into another, and the alienating effect that has. I was touched by the pleasure and the excitement that these gifts brought the gift bearers, and amused by one guy being unable to wait till he got home to taste the Aldi Amaretto (I like it myself: an interesting combination of almonds and petrol) and having a big schluck right there in the parking-lot. So many societies depend on people from other cultures arriving to do their dirty work, much like the way white South Africans used to depend on black domestic workers to do their dirty work (and still do) – a topic also raised in the novel.
I am still stunned by the grind of novel-writing, and today stared at my bookshelf at the names of authors ranged along the spines of books. Every single one of them, I thought, from Joseph Heller to Margaret Atwood to Jane Austen, went through what I am going through right now: creating the strong architecture of a novel on which can rest characters, situations, themes, emotions, conflicts, resolutions, inspiration, all of which need to be brought together in a coherent and satisfying whole. I feel simultaneously exhausted and thrilled.
Let’s hope this next week will be a better one in my writing world. Good luck to all the other writers out there. I also hope your week is inspiring and productive.