Monday, 28 December 2009

Happy New Year

I've been posting a bit less in the last few days because of the demands made by turkey processing: roasted, sandwiched, cold cut, curried, stewed. And still it endures.

The blog will be taking a complete break in the next few days as we go to Cornwall for a well-earned respite from meat work. We will also be there to welcome in the Teenies, as I suppose we'll be calling them.

The more observant of you may have noticed my posts have been a little shorter over the last couple of weeks. This is because I've been beavering away on the novel: a little over 43,000 words so far.

I think I'm going to struggle to get it over 60,000 words and wonder whether this will do. At a shortish 250 to 300 words per page this is 200 to 240 pages. So a short novel but not so short it's actually a novella.

I've read that a minimum of about 80,000 words is required for a thriller. Perhaps I'll bulk it up if I'm lucky enough for this to made a condition of publication. If it's of no interest to a publisher, I'll leave it as it is and self-publish it on Lulu or suchlike.

When it's in reasonable shape - probably by the end of January - I may put it up on its own blog so as to elicit some commentary and criticism, if people would be so kind.

I happen to have been re-reading Thomas Hardy's poems and, without really meaning to, have ended up with a Hardy-related theme running through the novel, perhaps incongruously as it's otherwise about Russia, the City of London and terrorism.

Reading them is a reminder that Hardy was certainly prolific, having written at some point about almost everything. 'The Darkling Thrush' was written on December 30th 1900 as the new century dawned. So perhaps an appropriate one for now. It exhibits his usual strangely comforting miserabilism (poetry only: his novels surely possess few consolations if, indeed, any).

In the event that I don't post between now and then, do have a very happy New Year!

The Darkling Thrush

I leant upon a coppice gate
     When Frost was spectre-gray,
And Winter's dregs made desolate
     The weakening eye of day.

The tangled bine-stems scored the sky
     Like strings of broken lyres,
And all mankind that haunted nigh
     Had sought their household fires.

The land's sharp features seemed to be
     The Century's corpse outleant,
His crypt the cloudy canopy,
     The wind his death-lament.

The ancient pulse of germ and birth
     Was shrunken hard and dry,
And every spirit upon earth
     Seemed fervourless as I.

At once a voice arose among
     The bleak twigs overhead
In a full-hearted evensong
     Of joy illimited;

An aged thrush, frail, gaunt, and small,
     In blast-beruffled plume,
Had chosen thus to fling his soul
     Upon the growing gloom.

So little cause for carolings
     Of such ecstatic sound
Was written on terrestrial things
     Afar or nigh around,

That I could think there trembled through
     His happy good-night air
Some blessed Hope, whereof he knew
     And I was unaware.


Nige said...

Happy New Year to you too, Gaw! (Sorry I missed yr Christmas post - turkey business).
Most novels published today are a good third overlength, so you're probably spot-on.

Kevin Musgrove said...

And a happy New Year to yourself, Gareth.

Good luck with the novel(la).

Bunny Smedley said...

Surely 43,000 words in a very short time is amazingly good going? I get the sense you're really enjoying writing this - which bodes well for the finished product. The chance to read a draft is already shaping up as one of the major discernible bright spots of 2001. (Personally, I am hoping for a lot of rather open-ended descriptive passages, such as the amazing Russian stuff you posted recently - can you tell I don't really read thrillers very often?)

Happy New Year, obviously. And by way of a postscript related to unfashionable poetry of the semi-recent past, thanks for reminding me, elsewhere, that I really ought to read more of Kipling's poetry. I bought his complete verse as a sort of late Christmas present to myself, and am finding it almost alarmingly good in places.

worm said...

personally I've never been able to tell from a distance if a thrush is aged or not, so kudos to Hardy for that! ;)

like Bunny I too am v.v.curious to see some of the book- as I have genuinely, hand on heart never read a 'thriller' in my life, (apart from the first chapter of The Da Vinci Code) so this should be a new experience!

Will also be interested to hear your views about whichever part of cornwall you end up in - I just got back from christmas there. My highlight was spending an afternoon gutting and preparing pheasants for the freezer. :(

Gadjo Dilo said...

Wow, rapid work on the novel, Gaw; I take my hat off to you and look forward very much to seeing it. I also am not by nature a thriller reader but I did recently enjoy working my way through every Inspector Morse book. Happy New Year!

Anonymous said...

Use larger font, more spacing between lines, and lots of photos. Also publish it in a really thick hard back. Worked for me.

Happy New Year

Wayne Rooney.

Gaw said...

Nige: I've been skimming a few contemporary novels with a more critical eye than normal and I have to agree that there does seem to be quite a bit of 'filler'. But it appears to be what the market demands. We'll see.

Thanks Kevin!

Bunny: I've been astonished how the words have come flooding out. About 15-20k words a week seems ridiculous (even if it's crap!)

There's a lot more to Kipling than his popular image might suggest. I returned to him a few years ago having read David Gilmour's excellent biography (he also wrote another very readable one on Curzon).

Worm: I've posted on Penzance - not sure where you hail from?

Gadjo: Happy New Year! Weirdly like you (and Worm) I'm not one of life's thriller readers. Perhaps I only think I've written one, and it's actually something else.

Wayne: Do you get your comments ghosted too? It was pithily well written. Thanks for the advice.