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Repeat until you discover something new

I’ve been walking through the old hospital again, been imagining George and all the other men, those lumps of flesh and memory, sitting under verandas, under trees, under beds, under, under. This walk I’ve done again and again since the second novel began, these same buildings, same gardens. Nothing new to look at. There’s a section of the hospital around the back that always compels me to stop. I’ve never been able to figure out what it is exactly that I’m drawn to, only that when I’m there, I see images of men jumping from the roof, images of horses hoofing dirt. And I know on some level that images like these make the stitch of the novel. I revisit this spot because it allows me to build image into character, into narrative. But lately I’ve wondered whether something else draws me here, something I haven’t yet unlocked in the novel.

I have been walking through the old hospital again, to the back of buildings. The scenery hadn’t changed. And yet. Something different. I stood, imagined men jump, horse hoof, and right at that moment I felt something inside me click into place. It happened when I was staring at this:

These lights without globes. Sun without heat. Here was something!

I looked closer:

Those dirt-lace cobwebs. Flies; a meal.

Closer still:

That feeling of eye to eye, of moving closer, of wanting to reach inward.

And then I felt it. Structure. A way of developing this novel’s point of view. It had been there all along. Was this why I always stopped at this point? Is this why repetition is so important to me, all these rituals?

I now have something even more tangible to work with. The structure is right there in image. Why does it take so long to understand what the novel needs? Why can’t I think quick enough? Why is it so difficult to arrive at something that now seems so obvious? What else is yet to be discovered?

I’ll keep walking, keep revisiting. Persist.

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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)

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