Writing a Novel
Long time ago I did an interview with Jo Blogs, and he asked me what the processes were while writing a novel:
I get dissatisfied. Dream a lot. Start taking notes. Get hung on things, concepts. Start actively seeking out metaphors. Write reams and dispose of it. Finally make a commitment and then go back on it 20 times. Try to seek out a point of view, first person, second person, third person. Stop doing other things, cut life down to something spartan like eating, sleeping, writing and not allow anything else in. Discover that I’m getting on for half way there.
Another time, the BBC interviewer asked me what I wished I had known before starting my first novel:
That it all comes from you, it all comes from the individual. It’s not an accident that the novel came about in a period in history when the individual suddenly started to be taken seriously.
I know from questions I get asked, that people who want to write a novel think that there’s some magic formula, or some trick or technique to it. And they’re not quite sure what it is. But there isn’t a trick or technique. There’s only the determination to find your own voice.
What makes me want to read a particular novel is that I empathise with the voice which the novel is told in. I pick a novel up and read a few paragraphs just like everyone else does, and then I put it down or take it with me.
The difference between putting it down or taking it with me is that I empathise, I feel that this voice has got something to say to me.
What that is, is originality. It’s that I haven’t heard that voice before, or I have heard it before but forgotten about it or there’s something about it that reminds me of myself or someone else.
If you want to write a novel and you want it to stand on its own in the world you have to find the original voice which is inside you that no-one else has.