About this blog

This is a window into the weird world of Anglicanism, as experienced on a Cathedral Close. Has anything much happened since Trollope's Barchester Chronicles? You will still see the 'canon in residence' hurrying across to choral Evensong, robes flapping, as the late bell chimes. But look carefully and you will notice he is checking the football score on his iPhone as he runs. This is also a writer's blog. It charts the agony and ecstasy of the novelist's life. And it's a fighter's blog. It charts the agony and ecstasy of the judo mat. Well, the agony, anyway.

Thursday 29 September 2011

WEEK 38--Finishing Writing a Detective Novel

If you are in a nit-picking mood, you could point out that this doesn't actually qualify as a New Thing, because I didn't nominate it in advance.  I have no time for small-minded pedantry of this stamp.  Go away and read the blog of the Apostrophe Preservation Society, if that's the kind of mood you're in.  And yes, that sentence did end with a preposition.

So, New Thing no 38.  You know what, I think that's a pretty big new thing--huge though the whole tartiflette episode was.  Obviously, I've finished novels before.  Many more than I've had published, in fact.  A lot of very kind people have asked me over the years why I don't write another novel.  Perhaps they thought it hadn't occurred to me.  But anyway, a detective novel is different.  Especially if it's a fantasy detective novel.

To tell the truth, I opted for a fantasy setting because I could not be arsed to research police procedure and the entire criminal justice system.  And I think you really have to do that, or your more well-informed readers are going to mutter their way through your book: 'That would never happen!  He didn't have a warrant!' etc.  Plus you probably have to set it somewhere gritty and urban, like Sheffield.  Which would mean visiting Sheffield.  (An observation, not a value judgment.)  The minute you try and set a detective novel somewhere like Lichfield, it tilts into slightly camp comedy of manners.  Deepest clergy-sleuth territory.  And it instinctively wants to be set in the 1920s, not 2011.

So there we are, it's finished.  Waiting to hear back from the agent.  I thought that would feel brilliant.  But somehow I'd forgotten what it's like.  Here's what New Zealand writer Janet Frame has to say: 'When the work is finished and the nothingness must be endured, the self may take a holiday.'  The nothingness.  That's what you feel at the end of a big writing project.  I keep telling the self to take a holiday, but it keeps fretting on, trying to do stuff.  So the self had a migraine instead.  That way the self could take to its bed with a clear conscience.  An afternoon in bed is a mini-break, if not an actual holiday.

No comments:

Post a Comment