Saturday, September 7, 2013

The Journey of a Novelist

Stephanie Cowell, an accomplished and successful novelist, shares some reflections. To quote:
I am one of those writers who tend to find the shape of the story as she writes it, and therefore my work is 95% revision. It is very hard to simply settle into the way your work goes and what has been given to you to do without wishing you were more productive or famous. Shakespeare in his sonnet 29 writes about “desiring this man’s art and that man’s scope.” If Shakespeare envied someone else’s art and scope, what can the rest of us mortals do? And wasn’t it seventeen years before Jane Austen took her novel called First Impressions and turned it into Pride and Prejudice? Who knows how long it took Shakespeare from first words to final version of his Hamlet?

The more novelists I know, the more I realize how individual is every journey. And it is wonderful when people share it, but sometimes revising and rewriting seems like wandering for years in Dante’s dark wood, never able to remember exactly what path you took or when or why. And once it is done, you never know who will find it and what it may mean to them. It’s really quite miraculous…whether we are rich or poor, whether we write one wonderful book or (gasp!) nearly 900 of them. (Read more.)

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