“Be careful what you say, she’s a writer, you may get quoted in one of her novels.”
I hear this a lot lately. And in a way this follows on from Maggie’s blog regarding carrying a notebook. As I struggle to get more exposure of my work, I find I’m open to yet more scrutiny locally. We can’t win, can we. That wasn’t a question - more a statement. With most of my publishing successes comes a little ra-ra-ra in the local paper - and that makes it even worse.
The life of a writer can be a lonely one; if we let it. We need to get out and about, mix with the folks out there, hear them talk and tell their tales. Watch their faces, their smiles, their grimaces. And then, they were absolutely right, somewhere deep in the archives of the scruffy notebook in an anorak pocket, or shelved away in the ever expanding memory bank - is that nugget of a statement, or that haunting look in the eyes, or the malice in the gritted teeth. Into the novel it will go. Sure as eggs is eggs. You can’t remember from whence it came, but it was worth hanging on to. It is valid writing material.
I once put up for auction the chance to be a named character in one of my novels. It was a fundraiser for a volunteer festival. And the bids came pouring in. I can’t remember exactly how much money it made. But I do remember the winning bidder. He/she was a character I just did not want in my novel at all, his/her name was just fine, quite literary in fact - but try as I might I couldn’t get away from his/her idiosyncrasies.
An example of having all I needed on a platter and it just didn’t work, I would rather have been a fly on a wall, an observer with a secret notebook, or watching a couple in a supermarket checkout fighting over yoghurt flavours.
The novel also included a bottle of Hpnotiq. It sat in my ‘fridge all sparkling and Aegean blue. When my lovely hunny-bun returned from his hard toil in the salt mines that evening he said, “what’s that?”
“Research,” I said, “for the novel.”
“Does this novel have any sex scenes,” he said, “if so, can we do some research?”
The novel, written for the Thee Day Novel Contest - also known as 3DNC (held every year on the Labor Day Weekend), I called Minerva’s Letters. It gathers dust somewhere, waiting for a rewrite and an injection of exciting characters.
I suppose I could go and sit in the local garage where the guys - mostly old (who don’t read papers - or novels either for that matter) chew the fat and put the world to rights. There are stories there for the picking. But would they clam up if roll up my jeans, let a cigarette droop from my dry lips and drape myself on one of the old truck tires leaning against the greasy wall?