Many authors struggle with the task of summarising a book-length project, whether it’s the one-page synopsis we need for submissions, the 10-second elevator pitch ready for the dreaded what’s-it-about question or the blurb to entice browsers at bookstores or online. How do you condense the twists and turns of a 300-page novel into such a small space? How do you tease out the key elements when you’ve lived with those characters for years? Sometimes, it’s impossible to see the wood for the trees.
Another pair of eyes can provide the necessary distance; likewise the passage of time. Almost four years on from the publication of my debut novel, Sugar and Snails, I’ve agreed with my publisher the blurb we worked so hard to perfect could be sharper. To get it right, we need your help.
Although I’ve never been sure about novels about writers, I was keen to read these two: the first about an unpublished novelist ghostwriting a memoir and the second about a poet anticipating a different kind of creativity with her first child. Both these fictional writers are brought into close contact with an unexpected other – for the first, the character whose memoir he is writing; the second, another poet who used to live in the town to which she’s recently moved – with life-changing consequences. Both novels explore the nature of the self and the permeability of the boundary with the other (and, incidentally, feature graphic scenes of childbirth). For another novel about a writer, see my review of My Name Is Lucy Barton.
Happy publication day to me! I must admit it doesn’t feel the huge leap it did the first time round, but I’m still excited, albeit not breathlessly so. There’s a quieter satisfaction in having more than one of my own novels on the shelf, making the transition from writer to author to novelist. This post is to thank those who’ve helped me on my way. While writing is a solitary activity, no writer is an island. Our achievements arise through hard work, good luck and not a little help from our friends.
If you’ve ever held back from having an affair for fear of the hurt it might cause other people, let me offer you a risk-free alternative. These two novels about women with roots in America who stray from marriages to European men can furnish the excitement and eroticism without the guilt or fear of discovery. If you like to read on-screen, no-one need even know you’re having a fictional affair.
finding truth through fiction
Annecdotal is where real life brushes up against the fictional.
Annecdotist is the blogging persona of Anne Goodwin:
slug-slayer, tramper of moors,
author of two novels.
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