For the past couple of months, I have put my third novel aside and returned to my first novel that I finished some years ago, but only ever published as an eBook – with minimal publicity so that, no doubt, approximately 11 people read it….!
Partly, my cautious approach to releasing this novel was sheer fear – how dare I think anyone would be interested in reading 300 pages or so of a novel I had entirely imagined and created? I was hardly a novice writer when I wrote it with decades of publishing short stories with women’s commercial magazines behind me and an M.A. in Creative Writing gained with distinction. But still my self-deprecating attitude held me back.
I think it’s something common to women of my generation, women of the decade into which we were born. We were well-schooled in modesty and the habit of humility. Whereas men who were assertive in the work place were called ambitious, women were always labelled ‘pushy.’
So my attitude to my first novel, to my cheek in actually expecting people to read it was …well, don’t tell anyone you’ve written one. Which is, to put it mildly, a little self-defeating.
But now I am pleased and gratified that hardly anyone apart from my ever-faithful and loyal sister, my oldest (in terms of how long we’ve known each other!) and best friend and my utterly supportive partner have read it.
Because I am re-drafting it, improving it, sharpening it, editing it – even re-titling it – and planning on releasing it early in 2019.
The Legacy of Mr Jarvis – its new title – is set partly in the late 1960s/early 1970s and also in the opening decade of 21st century. The first 20,000 words of the novel actually formed part of my M.A. finals dissertation although it took some years to complete the whole novel. Going back to it now, with the perspective of time, I can see exactly how to improve it and find I can edit it almost as if it is someone else’s work. I have a greater detachment and am able to cut chunks, alter sentences, re-write sections more ruthlessly than when the writing had just been produced. Although my novels do not fall into any useful labelling (which is hard from the marketing point of view as we seem to be in an era which demands ‘categorization’) as I don’t write psychological crime, domestic noir, dystopian fiction or in any of the other currently fashionable genres, I do find myself attracted to time settings in the recent past. Counting the Ways, my second novel, took place in the 1980s and my third novel is set in 2006. The Legacy of Mr Jarvis goes further back for one of its dual settings – starting in the summer of 1966. I enjoy recreating a sense of the flavour and tone of life, as it once was, not so very long ago, through both physical details and observations of prevailing attitudes. I could never write a historical novel, I know. I need to have lived at the time the novel is set – even if having experienced it as a child – in order to feel I am writing authentically.
So the writing plan for 2019 is:
The Legacy of Mr Jarvis
my third novel, not yet complete (but getting close) not yet named (although ideas are beginning to float through my mind, ready to be tested)
plus as much flash fiction, a few short stories, hopefully, and blog posts updating progress on the whole lot!
A Very Happy New Year!