Monday, 16 January 2012

If nobody reads a book, did it actually get written?

It's often said that we all have a novel inside us. It's also said that, for many of us, it would be better if the novel stayed there. Well, for better or for worse, my novel escaped from captivity and is now roaming the hard drive of my laptop and is on the verge of being released into the wild. Or Amazon Kindle.

Almost everybody has a story to tell. For some of us it's a quick anecdote, suitably embellished. For others there is a complex tale of heroes and villains that takes 100,000 words to tell. I've wanted to write a novel for a long time. I've fallen into the trap of writing and re-writing the first chapter endlessly, and never progressing to chapter two. I did once get a couple chapters in to a police procedural / thriller, but some sort of IT disaster wiped it forever. Probably not a bad thing.

I'm writing the perfect book.

I've read some great books. In the really good ones i've connected with one of the characters and followed them through their adventures. But for the majority, there's been something missing. Not something i could really put my finger on. Perhaps the hero wasn't quite brave enough, or vulnerable enough. Perhaps there wasn't enough description for me to see the landscape they were moving through, or so much description that they were lost in it. Or they won too easily, or they were saved by a deus ex machina device.

What i'm trying to say is that so many books are, just slightly, disappointing. So i decided that the only way to get round the problem was to write my own. The Goldilocks of books - just right.

Having finished my first book, i've realised that, actually, it's not just right. Rather than writing just for me, as i intended, i've writen knowing that, eventually, somebody else would read it. The book i wrote is not the book i started out to write. I suspect most writers find that.

Having said that, i still like the book and i'm really happy with it. Perhaps one day i'll go back and write a director's cut that never sees the light of day. Perhaps not. Writers write so that readers can read.

Or something

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