Thursday, July 05, 2007
Two days ago, by chance, I found out that a co-worker of mine has published a novel. And not just now, but in 2004. In the mean time, he’s finished the first draft of another one, but he’s saying that he can’t work much on it because of lack of time. The guy is 26 years old.
I must admit the news came as a freezing shock to me.
It’s not in my nature to be envious. So, I don’t think it was envy that I felt. But, definitely, it was a complete, mind boggling amazement, and also a horribly sinking feeling of loss, and lost time, and narrowing possibilities – a parade of “goodies” that come to you when you’re over thirty-something…
Once past the above - that is the next day - after wallowing the whole evening in the blackest thoughts possible, and after working till one in the morning at one of the stories I’m writing, I only felt a grand admiration for him, and that’s what stays with me now.
The book is in French, 150 pages, pocket format. The story has elements of fantastic in it and its target readers are adolescents/young adults.
It appears that the book was taken out of bookstores because it hasn’t sold much. It’s a small publishing house with very limited resources. The publisher has, basically, forced him to buy three hundred copies, and he’s selling them by himself. The guy has them in his drawer. I bought one, of course – out of curiosity, and camaraderie, and as a reminder to myself that it can be done and that I have to do it.
And the book is good, really good. It flows well; it keeps your curiosity alive; it makes you turn the pages eagerly. I love it.
I would’ve never imagined this guy to be the literary type. It’s true though that I see him reading at lunchtime – mostly Fantasy and Science Fiction. But when I talked to him about his writing, he said that – given a choice - he’d do just that rather than engineering, but that he has to earn a living. Don’t we all? He also said that, through writing, he escapes to a world of his own, much more interesting than the “real” one. For an instant, I felt as if I were looking at myself in a mirror – what a weird sensation!
And all seemed so easy for him, so light-hearted. I asked him how he did it, and he told me that he’d sent initially fragments and then the whole thing to somebody who was offering advice and critique over the Internet. This someone is a writer and the owner of a publishing house, and he helped him to essentially rewrite the whole thing. In the end, he gave him a letter of recommendation for another publisher. Sounds like a fairy tale?
I think this has somehow put things into perspective for me. All the fuss, and the stress, and the lamentation, and the introspection, all that soul-consuming anti-productive sickening crap, seem to me now like swimming pointlessly in circles. Of course, I will go on with it, for what is the blog for and what else am I doing right now? But I’ll have to do more of the rest, the “real” thing, the “true” writing.
I feel at the bottom of a well, with the sky just a teeny-tiny patch of blue high up, at an astronomical distance. Oh, where to get the ropes and the pitons from? I could also use my hands…
The picture in this post comes from the superb Ian Parker's Gallery.