Saturday, January 14, 2006


Perhaps new years resolutions aren't meant to come at the start of the year, but gradually, as the year dawns - or perhaps these are more like new years revelations. Possibly a quiet start to the year has cleared my head a little, but I keep getting minor flashes of clarity, seeing things as they are - as I walk down the street, or as someone says something to me - and I think, yes, I should write this down. Yes, I should write this down. This has to be one of the drivers, hasn't it? Something to say! At last! (And the opposite of that "having an opinion" that everyone seems to have at the moment on such peripheral topics as George Galloway on Big Brother, or Ruth Kelly and the sex offenders register.) But I'm not sure how to say the things. You know how it is - you suddenly notice an absolute truth. Say, that people not only aren't having children any more, but they're studiously ignoring biological clocks, and just accepting that's how its going to be. Or: that the streets do seem a little safer than they used to; that crime and civil disobedience, though stil there, aren't quite as prevalent as they once were. Or: that our cities are becoming just a little bit more European, but only a little. Or more minor things than that - there's more blonde haired girls in Manchester than London, for instance. Or that literally EVERYONE has an iPod nowadays. If I had a newspaper column (or a blog?) then I could just bang them out. But I want to take these ingredients and put them into a fictional/poetic mix. I want to write something that could only be written at this point in time - a time both more comfortable than I can remember, and yet more fearful. I can't quite put my finger on what it is I'm trying to say, but feel that if I could write it down in fiction then I'd be able to say, yes, that was it. What's stopping me? Well, technique, I guess. All the models that I think of using - thriller, short story, essay, reportage - seem unfit to the task. I need, somehow to find a better writing frame on which to stretch these ideas. I need the places and characters which will inhabit the story. I need the appropriate technique for dealing for this material and making it make sense. What I notice, as well, is that the only models for this that I'm finding are not written ones, but filmic or musical. That's where the lessons need to be learnt from. Let us begin.


Quillhill said...

Two thoughts: 1.if you write something that could be written "only now" will it be immediately dated, meaningful only now, as opposed to timeless? 2.I have always been fascinated by the thought of writing a novel like an opera, to somehow convey the opera experience through a novel--never have figured out how to do it, though.

Adrian Slatcher said...

If you write truthfully about "now" I don't think being dated is a problem. Ironically, its the later versions, e.g Hollinghurst's 80s that are the more selective, the less authoritative. I'm intrigued by the opera idea since opera is, I guess, the heightened story. Perhaps Dos Passos "USA" or Michael Moorcock's Cornelius novels aspire to this?