Saturday, 9 May 2009

Remember to Take a Big Breath Before Diving from the High Board

On Novel Racers, LeatherDyke UK has posted on the difficulty of completing a novel. The loss of ‘oomph’ as you come into the final straight.

Coincidentally, mon pote, Stuart and I were discussing this very issue recently. As he pointed out, it is a familiar problem for artists and artisans of every hue and, as I commented on Novel Racers, it is the equivalent of la petite mort, the apt French description for an orgasm and a death, the ending that is both desired and feared for the very fact it is the end. (If you are wondering why all the Froggy references, Stuart lives in Brittany.)

Ma grande mort couramment is stage two of my book, the edit. I have read enough and know enough to recognise this is where the hard work is done. All I have achieved so far is to string together an outline story. Now, it needs crafting.

The assembly, the chipping away at the marble block to release the shape within, has taken over a year – yes, far too long – and has been completed in three hundred words here, five hundred there, at different times and in different moods. So the whole needs to be buffed to arrive at a consistency of style and tone. Holes need to be filled. The structure requires careful surveying to ensure the end product is sure footed.

The temptation is to celebrate the final sentence of the work as is and declare it finished. It would be a fatal mistake. Yet, the thought of delving back in is frightening. Re-writing one sentence leads to more of the same, as changing one statement will have a Newton Cradle’s knock-on effect. It won’t affect the storyline – that is firmly established – but…

It has to be done. I want this novel to be as good as I can possibly make it.

My dearest wish is to have four weeks locked away somewhere tranquil and scenic, with no distractions, in order to give my full attention to the edit. And pigs might fly. And have flu.

1 comment:

Stuart and Gabrielle said...

I can't offer you four weeks but five Brittany days might help. I also can't guarantee they'll be no swine fever but we have just had our sheep vaccinated against blue tongue, if that's any reassurance?