Writing a work of fiction is every bit as daunting as it sounds. Did I mention first novel? Then double the daunting. It’s not until you’re finally closing in on the end that you even begin to consider the other huge half of the equation – who might want to publish your masterpiece? And if by some slim chance someone does, be prepared for the huge slog of marketing and publicity.
Everyone’s baby is the most beautiful in the world. And that’s how it should be.
It’s a fine line though between imagined greatness and self-delusion. I’d like to avoid both scenarios. It isn’t why I wrote my novel. So what triggered my interest in that slow and often painful journey between the first few fumbled words and the final full stop?
Strangely enough it was an image – a photograph of a middle-aged man driving a convertible along the freeway with a series of giant background billboards that remind us of lost youth. Behind it all we sense a powerful yearning. This image remained with me for quite some time as I wrestled with its meaning.
The image was snapped through my windscreen, camera in left hand and hoping years of practice and intuition would pay off. It did. My timing, angles and composition were almost perfect. It didn’t matter that the guy in his convertible gradually fell from my story. The important thing is that he triggered a whole series of ideas inside me, determined to make it into print.
I had to adapt and ‘lose’ my protagonist for it to become a better story. It was the birth of the novel I titled ‘The Pitch’. There’s an irony there too, because in a way the novel has to undergo this very process to see if there is a real market, or audience. All art is a high-wire walk. We walk that finest of wires hoping not to fall, but in this risk is the possibility of exhilaration. It was also the birth of the architect Maxwell Buck and a whole cast of characters whose lives intertwine in Melbourne, Florence and Dubai.
And I have to remind myself that while I believe the book has plenty to reveal, aspiring and experienced writers around the world believe just as passionately that their prose deserves the widest audience and wild acclaim.
I discovered writing and photography in my late teens. What I didn’t discover immediately was my own style and voice. That was to come. Hopefully that voice comes through loud and clear in my photography, camera work and writing. Photography and literature are like giving birth of course. You have to believe and have faith in all of those revisions and moments of darkest self-doubt.
In the end a good novel, just like a great photograph, helps us to re-evaluate our place in the world. Hopefully my book finds a place in the hands of an appreciative audience. If it doesn’t, then it won’t be for lack of trying or walking that high wire.