Sunday, 18 March 2012

How To Be A Novelist

'You write now then do you?' A face from the past waylaid me one day with a squealed, 'And how aaaaare yooooou?' across a crowded wine bar. Over Soave [her] and sparkling water [me] she probed my chequered past without giving away too much about her own and delivered the above line with a slightly bored voice.
'Um, yes. I've written a few, but they aren't all published.'  
Authors are always reluctant to blow our own trumpet, because the first comment out of anyone's mouth at any sign of pride is going to be, 'I've never heard of you.'
'Oh, I never read books.' At my shocked/surprised expression she continues. 'Well, they take so long to get through don't they, when there are so many more interesting things to do. What type of books do you write?'
'Historical fiction.'
'Oooh, I could never remember all those dates and things.'
'Dates? I write about people caught up in historical events.'
'You know what I mean, but then you were always were good at history. It kept you in the top set even though you couldn't handle maths.' She lifts the bottle over her third glass of wine.'Are you sure you won't have some? It seems indulgent to drink the whole bottle myself.' Then she proceeds to do just that. 'You know, I may write a book one day. After all, if you can do it....'
'But you just said you never read.'
'What's that got to do with it, silly?' She emits a high-pitched chortle that doesn't fit with her fifty-year-old face. 'It's not as if you have to have any qualifications. I mean, you aren't a journalist or anything, though you were always top of the class in English. [How did she remember that when I cannot recall anything about her other than she always wore gorgeous shoes]
'So how do you write a book then? She asks.
I treat the question as serious, and while lulled into a false sense of security I begin to formulate a suitable answer that is doomed to remain unspoken.
'I mean,' she trills, acrylic nails flashing. 'It's not as though you have to write an original story, as there's no such thing.'
'I beg your pardon?'
'Well, think about it. Every scenario has already been written by someone, the stories are simply regurgitated in different guises.'
'Are they?'
'Of course. I would simply have to find a good one, change the names and locations, and there you go, I've written a new novel.'
'So it has nothing to do with talent, dedication, or learning the craft then?'
'Hmm... oh I suppose that comes into it, partly. But with computers it's so much easier than it was, say, in Jane Austen's time. Books write themselves now don't they?' Glances at her own empty glass. 'Do you want another sparkling water, dear?'
'No! er- no thank you.' I say through tightly gritted teeth.
'Just going to get another drinkie.' She wriggles off her stool. ' So glad I met up with you, darling. I quite fancy myself as a novelist. It will give me something to do.'
I give her a strained smile as she wobbles away on her Laboutons, and while she's chatting up a waiter half her age, I delete her number from my mobile.


Kristina said...

Ha! I'd delete her, too. I'd LOVE to see my books write themselves! :)

Jen Black said...

Some old friends are better staying adrift in the past, methinks!

Jen Black said...

I'd love to see the computer write one, too. Though sometimes it tries, judging by all those misspellings and incorrect names ...

Louise said...

Hehe, yes, definitely one to delete. I must admit I keep very quiet about the fact I've written a novel, most of my family don't know. I'm not sure how interested some of them would be to be honest!

Susan C. said...

You've made me wonder why the number was in your mobile in the first place :)

Deborah Swift said...

The next thing you know she will probably be the most celebrated debut of the year, snapped up by a major publisher and the Film rights of her book "A Drinkie in High Heels" sold to the makers of "The Devil wears Prada." Sigh.

Anita Davison said...

Funny, Deborah, but that's exactly what went through my mind and was what stopped me explaining it was a lot more difficult than she imagined. - I am NOT going to her books igning though!!!!

Laura Purcell said...

Anita, thanks for your comment on my blog - I'm so glad you invited me to read this one. I think I actually would have flipped with that lady and threw something at her lol!

I do hope we see each other at HNS, we can swap horror stories :)

PS The cover of Royalist Rebel looks beautiful!