Wednesday 27 August 2014

Books are a problem, by Louisa Young (note the importance of a comma . . . )

Todays blog is short; forgive me.
Also, it is a question, and a request.

I am due to deliver a novel in October.

For perhaps four years I have been reading books about the time (1930s), setting (Italy), characters (Jewish Romans), theme (how was fascism for you, if you were both Jewish and fascist? - or, more broadly, how is it for you when you are one thing and also another, and one thing turns against the other?). 

You'd think I'd have read quite a lot, and you'd be right. Our illustrious leader Mary Hoffman provided me with a splendid reading list earlier this summer - already way too late, in the grand scheme of things, for a book which is already up to 90000 words - and it is keeping me busy. And yet yesterday I popped into Daunt's and bought Antonio Pennacchi's The Mussolini Canal (550 pages), Memoirs of a Fortunate Jew by Dan Vittorio Segre, and Susan Zucotti's The Italians and the Holocaust . . .  

I suppose it's procrastination. Distraction? Desperation?

Is it?



Dear ladies, I can't write more. I have a book to write and, more fool me, books to read. Help!


Ann Turnbull said...

Louisa, I think this is your fear that if there is a book out there you haven't read, it will contain the one piece of information that will (a) be essential to your story, or (b) show you that you've made a critical mistake that invalidates the entire plot, or (c) be a nugget that is perfect for your story or proves that something you made up is true. (That last thing happened to me recently and had a quite magical empowering effect, and it reinforced my feeling that if you are meant to find something, you will.) But you can't read everything, and if you have to deliver in October you MUST stop now! Skim the indexes and chapter headings and then put the books aside. Write your own book. It will be brilliant!

michelle lovric said...

Ann is so right. But also remember that all this material can be read after you hand the manuscript in, and if anything important arises, then you can add it for the next draft. Moreover, you can find lots of great material for History Girls Blogs when your wonderful book comes out next year. Courage, Louisa, write 'The End' and sign your name with pride.

Sally Zigmond said...

I do so understand. Anything I hear about a book I've not read or noted, either fiction or non-fiction, featuring medieval nuns, I panic as I dot the i's and crossing the t's of my final draft. I am so grateful to the previous comments for putting it all in perspective and for Louisa's post that makes me realise I am by no means alone. Thank you.

Carol Drinkwater said...

I am not far behind you in tearing my hair out, Louise. Bon courage Cx