Monday, March 30, 2009

The Crystal Palace

One of my favourite novels is Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides.
I've never been able to feel so completely lost in a story until I read that book (3x!). To be honest, Middlesex was the catalyst for my renewed love of writing.

While I always enjoyed putting pen to paper, I never thought I would consider my writing to be publishable. Hell, I still don't know if I have what it takes but I'm not going to let that stop me.

Jeffrey Eugenides made me fall in love with words again. Writing wasn't just something fun to do, it had started to become a serious part of my life. I owe him but sometimes I curse him because the writing life is far from easy. There are times when I would like to throw my laptop out the window. However, there are times, when I'm 'in the groove' and the words are flowing so easily that I feel so good about my life. It's a roller coaster ride.

I heard that it took Mr. Eugenides nine years to complete Middlesex. At first, I thought that was a terribly long time but once I started writing my novel, I realized it's not that long at all. It can take you years just to find the right 'voice', meaning do you use first-person or third-person? I've played around with both. I'm leaning more towards the first-person, this week.

Another part of the novel that takes a very loooong time to write; the first chapter. We newbies have heard this a thousand times; the first chapter needs to be very well-written and must have killer hook.
So, I think I've changed my first chapter almost 20 times, so far. It still doesn't feel right. But will it ever feel right? I'm scared that I may never know if it's good enough.
The rejection letters will be a sign though, right?

I think the most difficult job for a novel writer is to stay motivated and interested in your story. Motivation has never been easy for me. I tend to start projects and then get tired of them if they are not going my way. I've learned (the hard way) over the years that this attitude will not get you anywhere in life. It especially won't get you published.
So, what keeps me motivated is the fact that I have an interesting story to tell. A family saga, a romance, a mystery--all in one novel. I think there will be a lot of people intrigued by the plot and the dysfunctional yet lovable characters.

I read an interview that Mr. Eugenides did for the Oprah show. I wasn't surprised that he too found it difficult to stay motivated. Makes me feel like I'm in good company.

'It's rare for me to get an idea for a book as large and fully formed as the idea for Middlesex. At a certain point early on, I saw the entire structure of the book in crystalline form inside my head. The elegance of this structure bewitched me. When I felt like giving up—and I did almost give up, many times—the thought of that crystal palace in the distance kept me plodding on.'

-Jeffrey Eugenides in an interview with Oprah Winfrey

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