Sylvia used to be a man. That’s right: she’s had a sex-change. When the idea, which later became her, first came to me, it was to write a modern-day everyman novel. That’s man, not woman. I think I’d been inspired by watching the TV series of Any Human Heart. (If anyone’s read the book, by the way, I’d love to know how it was, or, more specifically, whether or not I should bother reading it.) I wanted to write a novel that captured what it meant to be human, now, by following the life of one character – who would, of course, be a man. Clearly, I’m not the feminist I thought I was.
Or perhaps I am, for the idea quickly developed into that of an everyman-and-woman novel, i.e. I’d have two central characters – one man and one woman – who would, of course, be in a relationship. The purpose was to get both sides of the story – what it means to be human for a man and a woman.
However, having written something of a first draft, I’ve decided to ditch Dylan (the male lead) and focus solely on Sylvia. This is because I’ve written most of the novel as an internal monologue (I’m not sure when I decided to write it like that – sometimes these things ‘just happen’) and I really struggled with ‘his’ passages. They just didn’t come naturally. I guess the reason is because I’m not a man and therefore don’t know how men think. Perhaps it is no different from how women think but I just don’t know. Of course, he’s still in the story, you just never get his point of view.
As for the rather ambitious aim of writing a novel that captures what it means to be human in the modern world, that kind of remains. Or perhaps it’s now more about capturing what it means to be a women. I’m not sure. To be honest, there’s a lot I still don’t know about this novel. I thought I’d figure a lot more out during NaNoWriMo then I did, but that’s life, I guess. Nothing turns out the way you expect.
Next week: The Build up to NaNoWriMo