You know of all the novels I’ve written (well 4 of them anyway!) the hardest to get right is the one that was never a short story first, so there is a lesson in there for sure. Isle of Pelicans has had many incarnations from creepy thriller to more literary character based novel (something to do with feedback from an Arvon course!), to something historical to fast paced psychological thriller and now back to creepy thriller (but still fast paced). I think it’s because there were too many threads to it and all the characters were shouting with hands in the air to be head character — a real game of push and pull inside my head!
This past week has been spent agonising and making notes about what it wants to be and this time I am revisiting it it needs to decide once and for all. I like what I have but it’s too convoluted. So I decided to go back to basics by asking the following:
1. What do I want this novel to say about life?
2. What inspired me in the first place to write this novel?
3. What is the key question the novel poses?
Sounds easy but it wasn’t because it had all become too complex and we find ourselves trapped inside our own writing, bound by rules we created only we don’t see it. So we think ah no but we can’t change that because of this. When we created this so why not ‘uncreate’ it. It’s taking the killing your darlings thing to the nth degree because once we give plot a structure and form and even one that seems to hold together, it becomes much harder to take it apart — but it is true, as I have said here before — deconstruct to reconstruct. And so I did and yesterday I think I see what it needs based on the above three questions. Sorry Darlings — it’s dog eat dog and maybe my bumbling professor recovering from a breakdown and fretting over rings on wood if you don’t use a coaster just needs to be in a whole other novel.
It’s a weird and wonderful writerly life that’s for sure. And I’M GOING BACK IN …