I’m struggling to complete my 4th novel. I thought I’d finished it, but something doesn’t feel right. Unlike my third novel, Trompe l’Oeil, where each character is driven by a desire to obtain something from life which life refuses to give, the latest work is even more character driven. With fewer plot twists than the last, the drama arises from the inner turmoil a character feels when confronted by his or her contradictory natures. Outward events are not the story. They create the dilemmas which force the principals to examine themselves.
I’d begun to feel sorry for myself and my struggle when I came across an interview with Tom Stoppard, novelist, playwright, and author of numerous screen plays. (“Between the Lines,” by Thomas Grey, Town&Country, 3/13 pgs 118-121.) I’d read only one of his works, the play, Rozencrantz and Gildenstern Are Dead, but was blown away by its brilliance. The man had out-Shakespeared Shakespeare. What marvelous audacity.
Reading the article, I learned the writer was near my age and that, like me but unlike the writer Philip Roth, he had no intention of retiring. He intended to go on writing as long as there are those with eyes to read what he writes. As to talent, there the comparison between Stoppard and me ends. Still, he gave me hope because he said of his characters “You have to catch the ambiguity in all of them.” (Ibid, pg. 121.) Yes, yes, “ I cried as that was the very heart of my struggle. “But how?”
The answer to that question is a private journey for every serious writer and while I am no master of the art, I am serious. Let others tell a story. I want to expose the joy and sadness that resides in us all. Tom Stoppard has worked that magic again and again. I will go back to my 4th novel determined to get it right at least once.
(Tom Soppard, courtesy of www.telegraph.co.uk)