i’m writing a novel.
i have carved out lines on the belt of writing experience for two novels before this, so this isn’t new to me. it is, however, intriguing how two books, a lot of english classes, hours and hours of reading for school and pleasure, and writing countless papers and essays and blog posts will give you a different perspective on the whole thing.
i considered tonight as i walked up the walkway to my apartment building, fresh out of a study session with a new friend of mine, that the novel is aptly titled.
it’s a novelty, isn’t it – seeing the world anew, through fresh eyes, through an unforeseen, unknown lens. novels take us beyond ourselves, even if the setting is familiar. but really, is it familiar? because we see it differently, through different characters, with different mindsets, and just because the facts are the same doesn’t mean the facts are the same.
i’m writing a historical novel – my first serious endeavor at writing something that doesn’t take place in the present. and i can write you up more than a few analytical essays on what happened, where it happened, why it happened, and what resulted. and that’s tough, in its own way, takes work, takes consideration, takes a lot out of you if you do it well.
well, writing fiction messes you up.
a friend and i were talking the day before last about how much we love edgar allan poe’s short stories, how deeply engrained they are in the emotions of the characters, how deeply they explore the human psyche. if you have not read poe, do. so. now. seriously. “the tell-tale heart” is one of my favorites, and after reading it i sometimes think i have a heart beating underneath my own floor.
we said poe must have been a little insane to have delved so deeply and so vividly into the emotional states of his characters. but that’s why his stories are so good. and they are good, too, because they imagine and reimagine and take us somewhere we’ve not considered before, even if that place is not particularly savory.
i think all novels are a reimagining.
i have the historical facts of world war ii. but i write a story, a story that is based on as many facts as i can find but also leaves a lot to my imagination. and so i imagine what happens to a b-17 pilot and a resistance fighter, and for a while, i stop sitting at my desk in west michigan and i’m running around northern france passing around bits of resistance news.
there are many stories, both real and imagined, that take place in world war ii. but there will never be this story, my story, except in my head as transferred to a microsoft word document.
it may not be a necessary story, but it’s a new one, and if you’re afraid of telling stories, let that be enough for you to begin.