Sunday, August 24, 2014

A 'romantic' at heart

I think I may have finally found my way on the path to my next novel. I think. I hope. It has been a real struggle to bring together the ideas, characters and storyline that I find I need in order to write convincingly. I have had some of these elements and made starts, only to run out of steam after a while. Some of the good pieces I nevertheless produced may eventually make it into this new project.

It may sound very corny, but I do need inspiration to fire my writing. I cannot write just for the sake of it. Well, I can, but without the passion to keep it alive it fizzles out, with a whimper.

Passion. Inspiration. These are essential ingredients for me in the writing process. For this reason I would hate some kind of publishing contract for x-number of novels. I could never become a book factory. The passion arises from the ideas which drive the story and from the characters who populate it. I have to have strong feelings for the characters, whether positive or negative.

In my first novel, Maybe they’ll remember me, I was really exploring the nature of love, commitment and companionship, mostly against the background of wartime and post-WW2 Britain. Can romantic love only be maintained by avoiding responsibility? Are companionship and security incompatible with romantic love? Can a relationship develop and be sustained without the latter? As a second theme I was exploring the ‘free spirit’. Does responsibility ultimately stifle the free spirit? Is the free spirit, in the final analysis, selfish and narcissistic? I needed strong characters to carry these themes.

In my second novel, Angel’s Harp, I turned my attention to more overtly spiritual themes, although not in a religious sense. ‘Cosmic forces’ however understood, whether real or imagined, play a role here. What is the nature of mystical experience, and its relationship with psychosis? Are experiences such as those described by Jung’s concept of synchronicity always uplifting, or can they sometimes be devastating? Is being open to the ‘music of the spheres’ always a positive experience?

And in my third published novel, Life Drawings, I explored themes of youth and awakening into adulthood, sexuality, the effect of past experience on development. Again, the characters and relationships are uppermost here. How do people deal with the painful experiences of the past?

I am something of a romantic at heart, in the technical, rather than the ‘romantic’ sense of the term. It has nothing to do with ‘romance’ as popularly conceived, as in the title ‘romance novel’. Romanticism, as a movement in art, politics, philosophy and literature, at the end of the eighteenth and first half of the nineteenth century, validated aesthetic experience as a legitimate path to knowledge, apart from the purely rational and intellectual. Those who are aware of my scientific background may be surprised at this. But I have a quite rational basis for valuing aesthetic experience. The complexity of the neural pathways of the brain allows for much more than simply logical, linear thought processes. We can perceive the ‘whole’, the gestalt. We can perceive connections and relationships. Indeed, we sometimes see them where none exist. Sometimes the rational must correct the aesthetic, and sometimes the aesthetic much correct the rational.

Writing (and reading) is as much an aesthetic as it is a rational process for me. Hence I must feel for and with my characters. Hence the story must move me as well as entertain or inform me. I must be passionately involved in the process of writing. It can never be a dry, mechanical process. I guess this is another reason why my writing will never make me materially wealthy.

Don’t forget, you can find my novels here....

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