18 July 2012

returning to novel

It remains unclear whether the novel which got stuck early in 2011 can form a coherent whole. People (including masterclass mentor) say "how does it end?" Strange thing: we want no clarity of ending in life, we want novels to work towards clear ends. I am more driven now by the perspective of Ford Madox Ford as I have quoted at last week's update of my aplaceof.info. No narrating, let the text be alive through impressions. And for me, the writer, let it find its own end/s.

Initially focused in southeastern Australia, I thought I was in control until one character told me he was Aboriginal and then my lead character told me she was Chinese and had a huge history. This latter  made my way forward difficult, as did distractions like living in Italy early 2011 and ill-health later in 2011.

Restoring momentum, getting back to a situation where the novel chatters in my head daily, has had to wait. It is working now, and writing flows. On 7 July I wrote 50 words – good words, a doorway, I thought – on the eighth another ten, then rushing to 1500 cryptic words... It was a good process to read the draft daily and find that the text was obscure because I did not understand what was happening. I figured that out as the story grew to the present 4000 words.

I do not have the matter of eventual shape settled at all, but I know a core issue to be about how people interact, how they relate for any length of time, when the traumas in their lives have been disparate in scale.

For the China half of the story, I have had to research, add more background to what has been in my head of the times and certain people. The excellent news this past week is that my main character has begun to write her own story and I find she has a point of view, or is developing a point of view, which I had not anticipate. The 4000 words just done, grounded in a moment of Beijing politics, 6 December 1978. I am including real people but as my characters are fictional the place and utterances and attitudes of the 'real people' are also fictional. I am not writing a history, though I find in exploring the way through modern Chinese history through the mind of a young intelligent woman that I gain insights myself as I hope may others. The novel will have a bibliography. I place this draft here for any comments. It may be torn up eventually, who knows... as Lionel Bowen said to me when I was writing speeches for him long ago, "You've got to remember, kid, the best speeches are the ones you never get to give."

Here some links for reference:

The Democracy Movement in China, 1978-1979: Opposition Movements, Wall Poster Campaigns, and Underground Journals


Wei Jingsheng