Our scholar Zoe has written his first novel. In this intimate blog, Zoe writes about the emotional impact that writing has had on him, and shares his novel. You can see from the blog, that he is a novelist in the making.
There are many joys involved in writing a novel. There is the inherent thrill, the feeling of accomplishment, the sense of pride, of arrogance and of valour. When you walk you feel an inch taller than everyone else. You feel like the world is under your feet, like you have all control.
You reach a level of intimacy with your story, with your novel. You feel drawn to her pages, to spend time with her, to know her more. She’s like a blank cheque, able to be molded into any shape and turned to any direction. She’s always there and always cares about your opinion because it shapes her.
As you progress in your literary journey and are moving ever so closely to the end of your creation, it feels like an overload of exciting emotions. There is a manic pleasure involved in writing the last few pages and a final surge of emotion as the last words are being written.
Then afterwards there is a mental tiredness and drowsiness, the spirit is willing to continue, without stopping, in the pursuit of a new book but the mind is exhausted and emotionally depleted. It will take some time for the mind to be ready once more.
Such is the case when writing a novel, especially your first.
It is quite common to grow attached to one’s first novel, as one would grow attached to a first love. This is because the feelings are new and were previously unknown to you. Therefore, your brain seems to create a direct connection between that pleasurable feeling and that particular book only. Upon the completion of the novel, it stands to reason, that one will experience what I call a literary heartbreak – involving a profound sadness and regret, wishing they could once again embark on the very same journey the very same way. It is said that it is not the destination but the journey that matters, this is particularly true for novel writing. The journey becomes so adventurous that the destination is rendered a bit bleak.
Authors appear to deliberately delay the completion of their books due to this phenomenon. They, therefore, take as much time as possible in trying to hold on to their work, their potential masterpiece, their most cherished accomplishment – knowing fully well that if they keep it for themselves they are only depriving the rest of the world of her beauty. I believe authors like Arundhati Roy, who took nearly five years to write The God of Small Things, as well as J. R. R. Tolkien – who took 12 years to complete The Hobbit’s sequel – and famously, J. K. Rowling – who took five years to write the first Harry Potter book, suffered from our writers’ malady.
It seems to me that the affairs of an author and his work mirror the Christian beliefs about the relationship between God and Jesus. Like God giving Jesus to the world, knowing they would seldom appreciate him like he would, the writer must give their work to the public, knowing that they will most likely not grasp her intelligence and ingenuity.
It is probably an agonising pain to see one’s beloved novel tossed aside like trash, but such is life and such is literature. The cream always rises to the top, they say, but just like beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder, shouldn’t the cream be subject to debate? What gives them the right to decide the fate of our novels? If we novelists choose to go by the title ‘critic’ and endorse our works, would they then be considered good enough to be cream? Would they still be burnt like chaff?
Did you know that, according to an article from HuffingtonPost, roughly 96% of all manuscripts end up rejected by agents each year? Yet new writers keep mushrooming around Africa, and the world at large, every single day. Even though the chances of succeeding seem very faint, aspiring authors keep going anyway. But Why?
Why can’t we all just quit? If not, why can’t we make sure all novels are distributed equally and read by all?
Why can’t we find some other outlet for our creativity? Why do we keep going? Why do we do anything?
I guess when it comes to writing, its pleasures and joys are just too seductive to resist!