Lizzie Borden, process, the second project
Leave a Comment

Never Lets Me Go

I don’t think I’ve ever truly known when to walk away from the work, think of it as done. This may explain why it takes me too long to finish a novel or a short story: this created planet, spinning on its axis, keeps falling into rhythms of day and night that I then eventually accept that’s the way things are, that I have to continue living in the world long after I have to so that the story I’ve told feels authentic, alive.

Even today I thought of new ways I could make Lizzie grow into that house on Second Street, make it small like a pocket: there she is hiding dirty clothes in the walls; there rubbing her back against a door knob; there singing at the top of her lungs; there holding clandestine dinner parties while Andrew and Abby are at the Swansea property; there at night going up to the attic to watch Bridget sleep.

The same could be said for all the characters in See What I Have Done: they keep living in the house, keep knocking loudly on my dreams, keep telling me their stories, hoping I might add something, anything, to the novel and see how it pans out. Even Benjamin, the fiction character I have inserted into the overall Borden story, is such a strong presence in my everyday thoughts at the moment that I’m tempted to write a novella all about his missing years (if you ever do read the novel you’ll know the years I refer to) just so that I can feel that I’ve explored every aspect of him as much as I can. I see him travelling along the East Coast of America, knocking on doors asking to be let in. I see him in punch up after punch up, collecting broken teeth,  strange tooth fairy. I see him hide in woods, hunt deer, hunt revenge, see him as war soldier, a drifter. I see him.

I know other writers go through this and I know it won’t be the last time I experience it either. What shocks me the most is how this world building has sustained itself even as I edge closer to the very last edits and proof reads of the novel. I am so over this novel that the very idea of writing anything more makes me want to slip from my skin.

And yet.

What is this thing that I’m experiencing? Is this an inability to let go of something that has been a part of my life for so long? Could the novel genuinely do with more? Am I creatively afraid to move onto the next family in ‘Blue Mountain’ because I think I wont know how to write new people? Have I let Lizzie orbit around me for so long that I’m stuck with her?

Is this a type of love?

This afternoon I listened to an interview (podcast) with Michael Robotham at the Sydney Writers’ Festival and was relieved to hear him speak about writers and obsession. Maybe I should just accept this and embrace it?

Check that podcast out here


This entry was posted in: Lizzie Borden, process, the second project


writer, observer, reader, procrastinator. My debut novel, See What I Have Done, published by Hachette (ANZ), Tinder Press (UK), Grove Atlantic (US), Piper Verlag (German), Editions Payot & Rivages (French), Hollands Diep (Dutch), Edizioni Piemme (Italian), GW Foksal (Polish), Palto Publishing (Turkish), MunhakDongne (Korean) Represented by: Pippa Masson, Curtis Brown Australia Dan Lazar, Writer’s House (US) Gordon Wise, Curtis Brown (UK) SEE WHAT I HAVE DONE (Awards and Some Praise) WINNER OF THE ABIA LITERARY FICTION OF THE YEAR 2018 WINNER OF THE MUD LITERARY AWARD 2018 Longlisted for the Women's Prize for Fiction 2018 Shortlisted for the Indie Book Award for Debut Fiction 2018 Shortlisted for the Strand Critics Awards for Best First Novel Longlisted for the ABIA Matt Richell Award for New Writers 2018 Longlisted for the International Dublin Literary Award 2019 For the originality of its voice and the power of its language and imagery, See What I Have Done deserves to be considered a Gothic classic - THE SATURDAY PAPER See What I Have Done is a meticulously researched and boldly imagined book that crackles with tension throughout. Schmidt's portrayal of Lizzie is haunting and complex, a deeply psychological portrait that forces the reader to question their preconceptions about what women are capable of - for better and worse. Both disturbing and gripping, it is an outstanding debut novel about love, death and the lifelong repercussions of unresolved grief. - The Observer Schmidt is a consummate storyteller whose account of the Borden murders is utterly compelling. - Australian Book Review Schmidt's writing is rich and confident, painting a vivid portrait of a household with something rotten at its core. It's a strong debut that promises much from an original and compelling new voice in Australian literature. - The Guardian There are books about murder and there are books about imploding families; this is the rare novel that seamlessly weaves the two together, asking as many questions as it answers. - Kirkus Reviews [An] unforgettable debut ... Equally compelling as a whodunit, 'whydunit,' and historical novel. - Publishers Weekly Heralds the arrival of a major new talent ... Nail-biting horror mixes with a quiet, unforgettable power to create a novel readers will stay up all night finishing. - Booklist This novel is like a crazy murdery fever dream, swirling around the day of the murders. Schmidt has written not just a tale of a crime, but a novel of the senses. There is hardly a sentence that goes by without mention of some sensation, whether it’s a smell or a sound or a taste, and it is this complete saturation of the senses that enables the novel to soak into your brain and envelope you in creepy uncomfortableness. It’s a fabulous, unsettling book. —Book Riot Eerie and compelling, Sarah Schmidt breathes such life into the terrible, twisted tale of Lizzie Borden and her family, she makes it impossible to look away. —Paula Hawkins, author of The Girl on the Train

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s