“Singing out of key cannot rescue a bad song.” Colm Tóibín
I am writing a novel. It is two-thirds complete. The trouble is it has been two-thirds complete since March 2020. Lockdown interrupted the routine that had helped it evolve to that stage. I began to take up proof-reading and copyediting in a big way, and discovering how much I enjoy the process of editing other writers’ copy.
Up till now, my brother-in-law has been the only person outside this house who knows that I have a novel in progress. Occasionally, he asks me how it’s going. For over a year now I have had to say that it is not progressing, that I intend to get back to it when the mood takes me, that I am not concerned because I know I will finish it at some point.
Earlier in the summer, during a lull in freelance work, I began to copyedit my own novel, in an attempt to kickstart a drive to the finish. But then freelance work began rolling in again, family came to stay, the garden took up a lot of time, and there were other reasons to excuse me from re-immersing myself in the unfinished story.
For, in truth, it is a story rather than a novel. A long novella, if you will. I find the characters entertaining and diverting, but I have little confidence that other people will feel the same. The main character is a source of humour. At times the narrator’s eye watches him from a standpoint of ridicule. This is probably not a good way to encourage reader investment in the story as a whole.
It is by no means serious fiction. I started it on a whim and have no realistic prospect of it being published. I haven’t had anything published since the early 1990s, having put long-form writing aside in favour of reviewing and a more full-on commitment to my career in education.
When my full-time career in education came to an end in 2013, rather than return to writing, I took up portrait and fashion photography. That carried on, right up to the start of lockdown. I haven’t done a shoot since February 2020 and my full-frame cameras and portrait lenses are lying idle. The only cameras I currently use are two 10-year-old Fuji cameras acquired second-hand, the x10 and the x-e1.
The novel, called On Arigni, developed from a few sketched lines in a notebook…