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.
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