I printed out the ms of the-novel-known-as-Ann and right away I’m editing again. Those damned sentences keep jumping out at me demanding a tweak. This time, though, I’m starting from the final chapter and working forward a chapter at a time. I figure the early chapters have had much more attention - apart from anything else they’ve been around longer - so this time I’m walking backwards for (not christmas, never!) - well, page 1 guess. It’s way beyond me to work backwards at a page level, so I’m starting at the first page of each chapter and working to the end of that chapter, then starting the first page of the previous chapter. Never done this before. I wouldn’t try it if I didn’t by now know the story really well.
The reason I printed it was for reading by some Auckland friends we are visiting soon. These friends read the short story this novel/novella arose from, over a year ago. At 52,000 words it’s short for a novel and long for a novella, so I don’t know which to call it. What I do know is that it’s the right length for the story that it is, so will not be messing about with that. I’m still thinking about the pieces of writing that might go with it I referred to in my last post and whether I can assemble a book from them plus Ann.
I read about Japanese writer Kenzaburo Oe somewhere and have forgotten where, but I got one of his many novels from the Wellington Public Library. It's title is Rouse Up O Young Men of the New Age! and it's about a writer and a son who was brain damaged at birth. The protagonist is also studying the poet William Blake and using Blake to interpret his world, although he, the protagonist, is not christian like Blake. The title is a quote from Blake. I found it strangely fascinating. Lately I seem to be coming across a lot of books with a protagonist who is kind of the author and kind of not. For example, in the acknowledgements to The Shadow Catcher Marianne Wiggins thanks her sister for, “permission to decorate our shared history.” And there are whole books written about Marcel in Proust’s In Search of Lost Time and The Narrator and Proust himself and how separate they are, or not.
We took A Cynthia Osick Reader to Australia last year and never got to read it. Stimulated by news of a new novel from her, Foreign Bodies, I have started it. Issues around being classified as “a Jewish writer” — and hence of interest only to Jewish readers and a standard-bearer for Jewish culture— are a feature of her career, and the editor of this collection from her writings, Elaine M Kauvar, says of this, “No imaginative writer, whether or not she is Jewish, sets out to write a novel to become a spokesperson for a group of people or to become responsible for its culture.” As a lesbian who writes fiction, often with lesbian characters, I heartily agree with this.
Out To Lunch, the book of writings by the writing group I am in, is being printed as I write. We’ve seen a proof copy and everyone in the group is happy with how it is. It’s a good project to be involved with. Here’s an extract from the introduction.
Our meetings are long chatty affairs where we workshop our writing. There's praise and encouragement and many helpful suggestions, and a shared lunch. Food brought to share reflects the bringer just as the writing offered reflects the writer.
Writing without the endpoint of publication becomes unsatisfying after a while. You need an audience, to complete the act of communication. At one of our meetings, we talked about publishing.
“It’s nice,” said Annabel, “to put something out there, not just write into a vacuum.”
“We can give lesbians something about themselves to read,” said Kate.
“It’s good to have things for women who haven’t come out,” Terry added.
Pat thought it would be good for everyone to be involved in a project doing the nuts and bolts of publishing. Judith agreed with all of this. Kate applied to the Armstrong Arthur Trust for some money on our behalf and we were successful.