The Great Novel

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The Great NovelAh yes, the great novel. Some of us who love to write feel we may possibly have one of those within us, though how this is panning out in my life, I should be calling it the Illusive Novel! Nevertheless, with this in mind, some time back I decided to start seriously reviewing everything I was reading with the view to analysing what works best. And being an avid reader, I get through a lot of words most weeks.

Now I realise reviewing is very subjective, but the more writing I do, the more I find I am focusing on the quality of what I’m reading. And with my teaching background and basic experience in both proofreading and editing, assessment of any piece of writing is second nature to me ~ there is almost always something I could change!

Overall, it has been an interesting exercise as it has given me the opportunity to look at different genres, and examine themes, premise, plots and writing styles. So, what did I notice? Apart from discovering a few wonderful authors, most of what is out there for the general reading public is fairly ordinary, which is surprising, given that it actually gets published. But the main thing, for my reading pleasure, is that there are often far too many unnecessary words.

And that is the quandary. I am a person who doesn’t like to waste words. Now there is a big difference between well-crafted sentences that leave one breathless with their beauty and insight, and words that just fill a page. For me, the page-fillers are what drag a novel into total boredom. But given that all the words of a novel would, for many readers, be a necessary part of their reading experience, could I ever get enough words together to write a novel?

And then there is the emotional journey of writing a novel. Does one need to experience the full impact of what one is writing about? I would say most definitely! To date I have only written about real experiences, and undeniably, the personal impact has been great. However, turning those experiences into a novel would be something quite different. Would I examine the subject matter sufficiently to get out of it what it deserves? Would I delve deeply enough into characters which my audience could relate to? Would I describe the setting and the scenes well enough so that the reader was transported there? Would the quality of my writing pass my own standards? Would I engage the reader, and would I use enough words?

While I’m far from light and fluffy, I’ve never been one for rambling on either. Concise and to the point suits me just fine. The older I get the less questions I ask, the less drama I focus on, and the less I have to say about the problems of the world. It’s that ‘been there, done that’ feeling. But of course, it’s deep and intense involvement which makes for a great novel. And when I was much younger, like everyone else, I felt all those deeply intense emotions. It’s probably then that I should have written a novel ~ when all the highs and lows were ripe and bursting. If I had had the time, I probably would have.

Today, however, I don’t really want to revisit those intense highs and lows in such great detail, and to write a novel I would have to do just that: revisit tension and drama. Not so long ago I was dumped by a social media ‘friend’ because we hadn’t interacted for quite some time. Truth is I couldn’t take the ongoing drama so I stopped communicating. The energy just didn’t fit. So I withdrew and waited for the chop, and thankfully it came. I sent her off with smiley wings, and with a sigh of relief, went back to focusing on the important stuff ~ being happy.

The Great Novel - Inara HawleyAnd therein lies the whole question. Am I prepared to go to the depths of what it takes to write a novel when my life is all about focusing on joy and happiness?

I know the more writing I do, the better I get, but do all the scribbled notes, thoughts and ideas that litter my desk make me a novel writer in-waiting? We shall see. Maybe one of these days I will be willing to find enough words to explore a meaningful subject through insightful characters, and tell a story which takes me to the heights of joy. Just maybe!

Inara Hawley © 2014