As part of the NaNoWriMo event, I have decided to write my next book in front of everyone, posting the words onto this blog and commenting on the process on its sister blog; kenthinksaloud. My aim is to complete 60,000 words by the end of November and publish a revised version in December. Please feel free to share your thoughts, comments, encouragements, criticisms and point out errors as you read. These will help the revision process immensely!
A Life Lived through Stories: Introduction to the blog version
This is a book, but it is not a book. This is an autobiography, yet it isn’t. This is a novel, except that I can’t call it that because it is a collection of unrelated short stories. In short, I really don’t know what it is even though I have a very definite plan in mind and, though the parts are not yet written, the choreography of this little dance has been well and truly rehearsed.
To be fair, some parts are more rehearsed than others. Some have been virtually written for years just waiting for the right moment to unveil them. Others aren’t written, yet have pretty much written themselves – it’s just that the words are currently scribbled in my head, filling nooks and crannies and waiting like sweets bulging in a sweet machine, straining against the dispenser and ready to gush out into eagerly accepting hands, rather than fixed and static on a piece of paper.
This is a book about me. Only…that’s not at all true. Not one word of it is about me. Basically, I’m about to tell you a whole stack of lies. Whopping great humongous ones; outrageous ones; stories which would I would be ashamed to bring up in front of my mother because she would ‘wash my mouth out with soap and water for telling such falsehoods’. Despite this, to the discerning reader – and certainly to those of you who have the misfortune to know me personally – my life will be mapped out in these pages.
Sometimes the best kind of lie is the truth.
A truth presented fully, as it were, in the basement, hidden under a cloth and with the light bulb taken out, but there nevertheless and ready for all to see if they will take the time to peer into the dark, snoop around and spot it for what it is. Of course, one could argue that all books are really about their authors whether we like it or not. So even if you can’t see through the lies, I guess you’ll see me anyway – perhaps parts of me I had no intention of sharing?
There is a chronology to what follows. It will tell my life from childhood right up until the current moment (except it won’t of course) but, as I’m churning out this first draft in front of you all, I will take the liberty to bloody well write in whatever order I like! You’ll have to wait until I polish away, remove the dross, shine up what little is left and generally rebuild it all and turn it into a book proper before you’ll be allowed the see the true chronology and get a better idea where the door to the basement is located. Yes, it is an unashamed publicity stint in some ways. You will have to buy the book to find the answers even though, even then, I won’t be telling them to you – at least not directly. It is also a practical thing: some stories are easier to write than others; some will take a good number of tears.
But I’ve gone off on a tangent and not explained what I meant at the beginning when I said this is a book yet not a book blah blah. Let me put these engimas (piffling though they are) to rest. There are plenty of mysteries (though this is not a collection of mystery stories per se) to come so it would be unfair to tax you too much in just the introduction. Instead, I will explain a little more here and now.
This is a book, or at least will be once the last word is penned, but what you read on these blog pages won’t be the book which is published at the end. They’ll be similar, sure; some will come and others undoubtedly go but most will be recognizable. But, for now, this is a book project which I hope you will find interesting to be part of. Perhaps it will become a book during the process? Who knows? This is stepping out into unknown territories for me too so forgive me if I’m waxing philosophical here.
This non-book, then, is autobiography because the stories are constructed around my life, the people I’ve met, the lives I’ve experienced, the things I’ve heard. But I won’t directly relate anything that has happened to me. If you think you see yourself in a character then let me assure you: it isn’t you. As they tell you in the movies, any similarity between the characters and real persons is coinicidental. At the same time, not one aspect of any character is entirely imagined by me. Every part is from someone, somewhere, I once knew; but don’t worry – there’s no Tracey Enim-like tent here (or if there is then it is well disguised). Your secrets are safe with me.
Some stories are metaphors for tales which are too painful to tell in plain words however. These will be the ones you’ll have to really read carefully and ponder just what is it that the old boy is trying to tell us here? I hope you enjoy the process and find the game of figuring out which story is metaphor and which is just story stimulating. After all, that’s what any author hopes for. The book which is ignored is simply not a book at all; it’s an imposter; a fake; a sham; a pretence. On my page at the NaNoWriMo website I’ve listed this book as ‘literary’. I don’t entirely know what that means, truth be told, and the dictionary is no help. In plain terms, for me, it implies a need to read beyond the text; to apply an ideological viewpoint – or several – to better understand the meaning of the words.
That’s fair. Most of these stories are not meant to be taken as pulp fiction, delicious though that genre is, or can be. I want you, the reader, to think about what you read here and bring your own reflections to the table which, if you share them, I thoroughly expect to help me better understand myself. However, I hope you won’t find these stories ‘heavy going’. Indeed, some of them I hope you’ll find to be light and perhaps even mildly humorous. Not all literary works need to be dystopian and bleak even though there will be a tendency, for the sake of interest, to head in that direction.
This book (non-book, whatever) is a novel in that it fictionalises a life (mine) lived from beginning to end (end so far, I should say) in some form or other. Yet, on first glance it is nothing more than a collection of short stories largely unconnected though there will be some themes running throughout and even a character or two reappearing. At least, that’s the plan. Who knows what will actually come out in the end? I’m looking forward to watching my carefully laid plans shift and alter like pebbles on a beach buffeted by the waves; always there, never seen to be moving, yet imperceptibly turning into something else over time and with repetition.
Welcome then, to A Life Lived through Stories. May you enjoy the journey as reader as much as I intend to as writer.