Sunday, June 26, 2016

Obsessed, possessed

I'm obsessed, or possessed, maybe both.  I've extricated my central character from a love affair that shook her self-esteem. Being in a foreign country freed her to fall in love, away from the friendly observation of family, but it also meant that she was far from the anchors that affirmed her sense of self.  After a "dark night of the soul" that lasted for a year and a half, she found a job to throw herself into, one which suited her talents. There, to her surprise, she found the love of her life.

Anyone caught up in a compelling writing project knows how addictive it can be.  Up at 6:30 most mornings, I'm soon making corrections on my very rough draft or retyping new and improved chapters.

My central character is based on a real person, now deceased,  who made her journals and letters available in archives, so, presumably, wanted someone to make use of them in a biography, or even a novel.  My challenge is to get away from the "telling" (the narrative form) of letters and diaries, and to "show" her (dramatize her) in scenes.  The time frame is 1928-1932 so I must use the social mores and vocabulary of that era and at the same time make the story  understandable to readers in 2016.  The standard set by Paula MacLean in The Paris Wife and Laura Moriarity, with The Chaperone,  is a high one and I have read these and other novels based on real people to see the authors' approaches.

Why am I writing this novel, when it is so demanding ,and when I don't have a publisher for it?  My reasons will make perfect sense to many Canadian Stories writers.  First, I think the real woman behind my protagonist would want me to.  Secondly, she learned lessons from her experiences and drew on them later in life to help others, and I want to show that. Also, the real-life events lend themselves to a novel with a certain shape, and, having recognized that, I feel an urge to sculpt it in that form. As well, I want to get the novel written as best I can while I still have the wits and the eyesight to do so.

This morning I intended to have a lazy breakfast and watch the news. But when my husband got up around 7:30 he found me scribbling away on a revision to pages 118 and 119.  He didn't mind. He understands, and  approves of these endless revisions of the manuscript, because he knows that soon I 'm going to ask him to read it.

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