“Tell me a story, Pew.
What kind of story, child?
A story with a happy ending.
There’s no such thing in all the world.
As a happy ending?
As an ending.”
- Jeanette Winterson
My Bill Bryson kick seems to have run its course.
As part of my getting-unstuck therapy, recently I turned to Bryson for a bit of non-fiction relief, and reread three of his books, one after another. I like Bill Bryson. Hiswriting is elegant and interesting, and he cracks me up. His Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid was just as funny on the second reading as the first. It had me braying with laughter, causing the Resident Teenager to come running to see what was the matter, at which point I held the poor lad captive while I giggled and snorted through a reading of whatever had struck my funny bone.
Then there were the responses to last week’s little cry for help, my thinly disguised pondering on point-of-view (POV) which was really a plea for a lifeline back to my stalled novel while the sabbatical clock ticks away. Writers and artists and friends leapt to the fore with ideas and suggestions and encouraging words, from creative solutions that have worked for them, to an all-out cheering-squad at full cry, to a gentle reminder that in the business world, time pressure counts, but in the creative world…?
There were also insightful comments on POV, including how limiting first-person can be, although intimate; how agents/marketers/publishers are concerned with what is trendy and selling right now; and how the omniscient voice is making a comeback. Fascinating.
And always the book suggestions, which writers just can’t get enough of, good books being a healthy reminder of why we spend long, solitary hours sitting at our desks. I hied myself to the library, where I was surrounded by the fruits of countless other writers’ labours, and breathed it all in. Then I checked out a book, a novel calledLighthousekeeping by Jeanette Winterson. I read it in one sitting and still haven’t caught my breath. It is a stunning little novel, quirky and gripping.
All of which is to say, perhaps, that there are a million little steps to writing a novel, and sometimes you need a little help along the way. Thanks to the generosity of others and a few examples of great writing, I’m relieved to say I’m back on track.