Category Archives: nablopomo

The reasons for "Inevitable", part two

So, now we’ve dealt with the motivation of fame – or at least, a book in Waterstone’s bearing my pen name – time to answer another of Jack Heffron’s questions:

Are you exploring an issue that interests you?

Several, actually. Politics and romance and the love of reading and writing.
But mostly, Inevitable seeks to challenge that timeless assumption that it’s better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all. As an author, I am unconvinced: I’ve had no heartbreak to deal with in the last year, which leads me to agree with – oh dear, I think it might be Will Young: if I lose the highs, at least I’m spared the lows
My character, however, draws a different conclusion: meeting Brad changes her priorities, redirects her life towards a greater adventure than “just” falling in love, towards significance. Because she’s known him, in other words, she has been changed for good. And that may be enough to make the heartbreak worth it.
Significance is not only to be found in relationships; even happiness isn’t. Shocking as it may sound even in our enlightened times, it is possible to have a fulfilled and meaningful life as a single woman. Jane Austen was born a few decades too early to fully conceive of it, though not to long for it; Henry James hinted at it with his own Catherine in Washington Square.
My Catherine would want you to know that there are many other happy endings than getting the guy, and that, actually, getting the guy may turn out to be anything but happy. Or, in fact, an ending.
Don’t settle! She would want to tell you. Find your adventure! Maybe that man is an adventure, or maybe a partner in the adventure – on the other hand, maybe he’s a distraction. Make sure you know which it is before you throw yourself in.

I don’t know if I agree with her. But I have heard it said that if there is a book you want to read which doesn’t exist, that is the one you should write. I long for novels which suggest, unlike otherwise excellent films like Up in the Air, that you don’t necessarily die sad and alone, or happy and married. Those are not the only options, because a relationship is not the only path to fulfillment.
And that’s why I want to tell Catherine’s story. That, and the whole Waterstone’s thing.

The reasons for "Inevitable", part one

Jack Heffron, author of The Writer’s Idea Book, wants to know why I am writing “Inevitable”. Well, this may be overstating his interest a little. Mainly, being unaware of my existence other than just as one of the faceless, nameless authors to whom he is addressing his unspeakably useful book, he is challenging me: what’s at stake for the author in the telling of this story?
Are you exploring an issue that interests you? He asks. Are these characters running around in your head, begging to be put on the page? Are you looking for a byline or publication credit?

Of course, nothing as shallow as the final point has crossed my mind. I have never once thought about what it would be like to walk into Waterstone’s on Piccadilly and to spot, on the front three-for-two table, my pen-name, on the front cover of a shiny new novel, spine unbroken, corners unruffled, surrounded by the latest Eleanor Catton or Zadie Smith or Jonathan Franzen offerings.
I’ve never once imagined that someone would pick it up, brow furrowed in intrigue, turn it over to scan the back copy, open it, and carrying it straight to the till, so distracted they forget to use their Waterstone’s card. (Which would be a shame.)
I’ve never once thought about who I’m dedicating the book to, or how I am going to get a copy to him, and convince him to write the screenplay with me. I’ve never once daydreamed about how this might lead to our falling in love. Especially since this would in itself make a great story, given that the hero is named after and perhaps slightly modelled on him.
I’ve never pictured sitting on the Tube and noticing the person next to me so deeply engrossed that, when they finally look up at the end of a chapter to check they have not missed their stop, they mouth a gentle expletive.
Never. Not once.

that writer’s voice

I found it today.

My voice.
You know, that elusive creature we writers are always searching for, then clinging to for dear life. Sit in the sun for long enough in enough caf├ęs, do enough writing prompts, and apparently it comes to you. The opening page of Inevitable now sounds like it was penned by the same person who wrote “Destined for Greatness” and “The Ghosts of Christmas Past” and “After LA”.
So, it really works. Keep writing! Keep practising. It will come.
And it’s a great moment!
Just need to do the other 299 pages now…