I had big ambitions when I began working on my current novel-in-progress. And even though it’s coming up on three years since I started on that first chapter, I still recall them pretty clearly.
Firstly, there was the mix of genres. I wanted to combine elements of comedy, fantasy, romance, adventure, satire – not to mention anything else that struck me as I went. Secondly, I wanted to write a story with multiple narratives. I’d never tried that before, and it was a challenge I wanted to see if I could meet.
But there was one particularly important element I wanted to work into the story. One that was absolutely fundamental. I wanted the story to be joyous. I wanted it to uplift the reader. When they got to the end, I wanted them to close the book and feel great – exhilarated and energised and ready to deal with the world. I had pretty good reasons for this. I’d been dealing with a number of personal challenges and the previous couple of years had been kind of shitty. At the core, what I really wanted was to bring some joy into my own life,
Well, what a difference three years can make. How good intentions can change.
I feel like I’m living in a world that is very different from the one three years ago. Everything seems harder and more complicated. Issues seem less able to be resolved. People are picking sides, and neither side can agree on anything. Everything seems nastier. Everyone is angrier. And I can’t escape it.
I feel like I’m getting angrier too. As I read the news or watch the telly or scroll through the web, I can feel the hair on the back of my neck rising, my pulse racing, and my blood beginning to boil. What can I do? Should I throw the paper away, or turn off the telly and the internet? I don’t want to cut myself off from the world. I still want to keep myself informed.
No, I do what I usually do. I channel the fear and anger and frustration into my writing. Into that strange multi-genre, multi-narrative story. As I mentioned, one of the genres is definitely satire. And the more I think about that satirical vein, the angrier it gets. I just can’t help myself. My book is getting angrier and angrier.
But that doesn’t nullify my original intention. I still want this to be a joyful book. I still want to leave readers feeling exhilarated. So what do I do? I have to get the balance right. If my book is getting angrier, it has to get more joyous as well.
So there you go. I’ve given myself another challenge. Write a book that is both angry and joyful.
I’ll add it to the list and keep you posted on my progress.
Posted by Jonathan Gould and tagged as