Sunday, 5 August 2012

A Novel Experience

I've been a bit lazy about posts lately. Other matters taking precedence, that sort of thing. I have, however, aside from working towards my much-procrastinated exhibition (which is going to be soooo impressive when it finally happens, I swear!), been whiling away my endless leisure moments by writing a Novel, following a suggestion by someone else who was commenting on a particularly alarming - or alarmist - article about self-publishing in the Guardian, that I should write about a character who had emerged unbidden from the foam of the ensuing debate, called Writer 51. (Actually the Article wasn't bad reading, but the Fun was definitely in the Forum - Up Pompous, anybody?) And so "Writer 51" started to take shape in my mind, that unfortunate wannabe author who is never quite sure whether she really isn't good enough for an established publisher to take her on, or it's just that the quota in the lifeboat has already been filled... hence the numeration.
In the excerpt that follows, my heroine, who has just started secondary school, and won her very first writing prize (naturally convincing her that she is predestined for great things) is talking to her "best friend" (who is, equally naturally, going to turn out to be selfish, shallow and exploitative, and will inevitably go on to steal boyfriends,  bursaries, and eventually the heroine's precious work...) about names.

WRITER 51- Names.

We’ve both got the wrong names, Mabel said. You’re not a Gloria. I mean, “Gloria” is for actresses, and pop-stars. It isn’t you at all. And I’m not a Mabel. “Mabel”s an ugly name, it’s like fatties, and specs. There aren’t any models called “Mabel”, are there? ‘S just ugly, ugly and common.
I didn’t think “Mabel” was ugly. “Mabel” was a beautiful name. Of course it was, because it was Mabel’s name. “Gloria” was ugly. How could she think “Gloria” was glamorous? “Gloria” was an old-lady name. If names had a scent, “Mabel” would smell like orchard apples, and minty gum breath, and romping in hay-lofts. “Gloria” would probably smell more like pink hair-curlers, old Lycra, and stress incontinence.
Still, I felt a little hurt that Mabel didn’t think I could have a glamorous name. But she didn’t mean it. And anyway, she was right – I wasn’t glamorous, not in that sort of way. But it didn’t matter, ‘cause I wasn’t going to be a pop-star, or a film-star, a vacant, empty-headed actress. Who needs that? I was going to be a writer, wasn’t I? A famous, wealthy writer. Gloria Lambert, author. Novelist. Booker Prize Winning Novelist. Nobel Prize. Why not?
When you’re a really rich writer, of course, you can buy Couture clothes, you can have Designers Design you things, you can be Sophisticated, which is actually much posher than Glamorous. And people still want to sleep with you. People wanted to sleep with George Sand, even, and she wasn’t Glamorous. She wasn’t even normal-looking, and she did all right.
I felt reassured. As long as I stuck to the plan, it was all going to be fine.

More excerpts from the (unrevised) first draft soon - I can hardly wait! Or I might get round to that fascinating excursion into Romano-British Religion that I've been planning. It's going to be more exciting than it sounds, I promise you...

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