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It’s all organised in a complex hierarchy on my computer; the parts, the chapters, the sections. It’s like a house I’ve moved into, a few rooms adequately furnished, my scanty belongings still in cardboard boxes in the spare bedrooms. The Novel. It started as a couple of scenes in a screenplay, a radio play; the equivalent of a student bedsit with a few possessions carefully arranged.
Then I graduated to this partly occupied house. Chapters echoingly empty, although I have vague ideas of how they should be furnished. Characters I had not envisaged are coming to stay. The findings of each day are jotted down here and there; 200 words, 300 words, like lampshades, occasional tables, saucepan sets. Each room is furnished slowly and piecemeal. History becomes an IKEA catalogue: that might go well there.
Will it all end up like my friends houses? Manicured, perfect, spacious, elegant? Or become an unmanageable mess of clutter?
As John Braine once wrote, ‘The novel, once put aside, is never taken up again’ (or something like that). But, then, why would I move out of my house?