Now that two people other than my wife have expressed an interest in my novel, I’m feeling a heavy burden of responsibility. Suppose it turns out to be a big disappointment?
Last week I came across an interesting revelation in Brian Kiteley’s 3 AM Epiphany. He said his writing in his letters and journals had always been far better than his attempts at fiction. He thought this was because private writing is more direct and emotionally honest.
I think there’s another reason. When you write in a letter or a journal you are often writing something that you have been turning over in your mind for days, weeks, months or even years. You write from the full range of your experience and draw from a bottomless pool of associations and memories.
When you write fiction you are often groping for these memories and associations. You are struggling to get inside another’s skin and to create things that don’t exist. The resulting prose is more stilted and self-conscious.
There are other reasons, too, no doubt. Trying too hard, for example.
Reading over yesterday’s entry in my blog, I can see that a transition in my writing style occurs quite abruptly following the self-consciously literary repetition of the words “on and off.” I was being perverse and deliberately breaking each rule in turn, so the writing is very artificial and a bit embarrassing.
I think a lot of writers produce this same stilted prose when they try to follow the rules. They chop about what they’ve written until no trace of their true voice remains.
I’ve been looking at the chapter I’ve written this week and it’s not very good. In contrast, some of the notes I’ve written for myself are fascinating.
Maybe I’ll scrap the novel and publish the notes. I think there are literary precedents but I wouldn’t want to embarrass myself further by suggesting comparisons.