Novel Journey 8: The Decision

I have made a terminating decision: I’m going to shelve Sylvia Grey. By shelve I mean leave well alone for a period of time. I don’t know how long this period will last. Although I expect it to go on until I’ve finished my master’s, at least.

As you know, I’ve been struggling with her since the last few days of Nanowrimo. Every time I tried to work on her over Christmas the same concerns stunk out my mind. When I read the following in Gardner’s On Becoming a Novelist, I instantly thought of Sylvia.

‘I myself have kept going for years mainly by avoiding the one serious novel I mean to write someday. There it sits, five hundred rough-draft pages of it, watching me from the shelf like a skull. Nothing else I do is significant, by comparison, at least in my own mind. I am free to scatter words as an October wind scatters leaves.’

After all, she was supposed to be the big one. The one in which I capture exactly what it means to be human, today. And maybe I’m just not ready for that, yet.

If I said that my tutors’ comments on my creative assignment, extracts from Sylvia, had no influence on this decision, I’d be lying. I’d been thinking about shelving Sylvia all Christmas but I might have soldiered on a little longer had I not received those comments. The truth is that I’d been intending on using more of Sylvia for my dissertation but I saw that this would be a bad idea. Maybe I will make a novel out of her, someday, but I won’t by the end of August. Besides, I couldn’t disagree with most of them. In fact, reading the comments of the first marker was like seeing all of my own concerns put down in black and white, which was comforting, even though he was a little scathing in places.

All of this means, of course, that this is the last post in the series, Novel Journey, for now, at least. So, since I believe in democracy, I’d better get working on suggestions for another ‘what next’ poll. I’ll post that later on today.

Well, I hope you’ve enjoyed this series, in all its brevity. And who knows, maybe this won’t be the last you’ll hear of Sylvia. As always, only time will tell…


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