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Monday, 23 February 2015

Emotion Overload

The novel rewrite I'm working on at the moment is a tricky one. Of course, I didn't realise it was a tricky one until I got about 10,000 words into it. That was about the moment when I understood the mood I was going to have to get into it in order to make this story work properly. It needed resonance, emotional power. I've got through six drafts with this one but I knew there was something missing. It could be that I just didn't want to go to the place it took me to, but now I don't have much of a choice. Because, after all, if something is this painful to write then some good must be coming out of it, one way or another.

One of the central themes of this novel is rejection, which works on several levels. It's a dual timeline narrative and to say my protagonist is damaged in the front story would be an understatement. However, it took this draft for me to realise how damaged she is in the back story too. I suppose this is what happens when you spend five years with a character - it's a slow process of revealing the layers and reaching the core. The fact that I finished the first draft of this novel in June 2010 is scary, but it's one of those I'm determined to work on until I'm happy with it. As with all my novel drafts, even if I don't get them published, I want something that I'm eager to read every now and then.

As ever, I took refuge in music to work out what's going on with my protagonist. There are a couple of songs that fit where I'm heading with this story and how she reaches the end she does. One of those is 'Reason to Believe', my favourite version of which is by the wonderful Bobby Darin.

"If I gave you time to change my mind,
I'd find a way and I'd leave the past behind,
Knowing that you lied straight-faced while I cried,
Still I'd look to find a reason to believe..."

The other song, unsurprisingly, comes from one of my favourite musical scores, with music and lyrics by Jerry Herman. It's one of the most gut-wrenching songs I've ever heard and Bernadette Peters makes you feel every spasm of pain. In the end, the conclusion my protagonist comes to is that, once anger fades, the emotion it was concealing still remains. Because time heals everything except...

I'd better get back to work. If I don't finish this rewrite soon I'm going to be a wreck.

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