Two weeks until Easter (or at least until I go away for the long weekend), which means that I have two weeks to write another 5000 words on the WIP fic, which I am determined to do by then. I’ve been on a bit of a roll recently – 8000 words in the past month, despite the past couple of weeks being busy and it being the end of a long term – and though watching rolling news on the Pope interrupted me last night, I’ve got back into it again since Sunday evening and in a mood in which I really want to get on with it. Not least because when I’ve got this out of my head, I will have room for other things, like attempting to write an equally long work of original, and thus potentially sellable, fiction. I just wish that as I wrote I seemed to eat into the remaining word-count a bit more... I suppose that expanding plot is better than shrinking plot.
Speaking of sellable fiction, I’ve just finished reading John Burnside’s A Summer of Drowning, a birthday present from a friend who rightly guessed that “north Scandinavian spookiness” has my name written on it. In fact, though I enjoyed the atmosphere and the prose, the spookiness wasn’t quite right – a bit too much and simultaneously not enough*. I want a bit more resolution to my unresolvedness, a sense that when I’m contemplating the possible ‘what might really have happened’s (which includes supernatural explanations. I don’t believe in the supernatural in real life, but I do in literature) I’m not making them up out of no-where. I shouldn’t reach the end of a book and find myself reaching for explanations like “did they stand on a land mine?”
The following comment in a review baffled me (Liv is the narrator):
Liv, in a sense, is the most frightening character I’ve read in a book in years. When she speaks of another character’s “immense, dark calm” and how, after an awful event, “she had started to relax – but she was relaxing into something terrible, and she was going about the world in a state of complete indifference to whatever might come,” it’s ominously clear what she’s really talking about.
No it isn’t clear! It really, really isn’t! And from the rest of the reviews, I don’t think I’m alone, though the newspapers seem to mind the lack of suggestions less than I do. One challenge is that for this sort of misty what happened, anything could be significant sort of thing to work, you have to have absolute trust in the author that everything that could possibly be of significance really is, and isn’t, for example, the author temporarily forgetting that Norwegians don’t tend to put on outdoor shoes in their upstairs bedrooms. But the author didn’t quite establish that trust with me, and so I reached the end thinking, “well if that thing is actually real, then it means that something else is going on, that could mean A, B, or C, or if it isn’t real it means something else about the narrator, and what if actually the author has just not considered that it requires X?”
For those who have read it . I have decided that Liv is mad and either a long-term resident of a psychiatric hospital, or in her mother’s care. I haven’t decided whether she is in fact a murderer or just sees things a lot, but if there is one thing in the entire book that needs an explanation it is why her mother's work has become darker.