Writers used to be the lighthouse keepers of the arts world: lonely horizon searchers given to madness and drink. To write a novel in the “old” days (like, say, the 1990’s) you had to hole up by yourself in some quiet corner of the world, coming up only for air and coffee before scurrying back to your desk.
Writing is still largely a solitudinal act, but thanks the Internet, you can get instant feedback. For example, I know many of you are already madly scrolling down to the comment section to let me know that “solitudinal” is not a word. There is an immediacy like we writers have never had before (though, as the preceding example illustrates, it can cut both ways).
But can you bring immediacy to writing a novel? What used to be a Monty Python sketch about Henry James writing in front of a crowd in Dorchester (see the YouTube entry above) is now, sort of, a possibility. Not only is the idea of writing in front of a crowd thrilling, it will also help stave off some of the isolation that comes with writing a novel and act as a constant motivator. I’m hoping that it will be an entertaining exercise in itself – for you as well as me. At the very least, it will be a full account of a novel in progress with some insights along the way.
Part of that exercise will be to incorporate some “social media” into this blog. (Actually, social media itself is one of the themes I’ll be dealing with in the novel – sort of life imitates art imitates life, as it were.) I encourage you to join my Facebook fan page and follow me on Twitter, as well as bookmark or subscribe to this blog. It is not a necessity, but it might be more fun if you do…
Although I will be detailing the writing process, I won’t actually be posting the novel here on this blog, beyond perhaps some little tidbits.
I plan to write a minimum of one hour per day, every day, until the first draft is written. That might not sound like a lot of time, but I do have a full-time job and a full-time family. I think an hour is a reasonable amount of time to carve out of the day.
Story-wise, I have an idea that I will be working with, though I don’t want to lock myself into completing that necessarily. If it doesn’t pan out, I’ll switch to another story. But I will keep going until at least one novel is done.
A few shout-outs: thanks to Terry Fallis, writer of the Canadian political novel “The Best Laid Plans” and its sequel, “The High Road”. I recently attended his workshop during the Sleeping Giant Writers’ Festival that I went to last weekend. I must admit that I already had a vague inclination to blog a novel, but Terry certainly helped me bring it all together.
Also thanks to Miriam Toews, whose Advanced Fiction workshop I took during the same festival. And to Duncan Weller (or as I prefer to call him, GG Winner Duncan Weller), who convinced me that I could probably find an hour per day to write if I really wanted to…
Most of all, thanks to my family for their constant support. They are waiting for me to turn on the BBQ for dinner as we speak, so I better get to it!
Tomorrow is Day 1 – I’m looking forward to it already!