I felt two moments of relief, of ‘closure’ during the process of writing Scribbling On Foucault’s Walls. The first was when I finished writing the last words of the final scene – and you can see how much I wanted it to be the end when I tell you those words were ‘It’s over’. The second was after my wonderful first reader had read it and given me comments, and I’d edited and modified it to produce the final manuscript.
But since then, this process has proven to be never-ending. I in my usual ahead of myself, but so slow to learn anything way, had of course predicted that never-endingness of the process of fiction writing. In a very memorable (for me, and me alone) discussion on Mark Simpson’s blog, a while ago, about Susan Sontag, I compared fiction writing to therapy. Mark said he hoped my book would ‘settle the score’ but I replied:
‘Nobody ever settles the score. The story is in how she fails.
‘As Freud realized that neurosis was the human condition, he came to understand that every analysis is a failure. It has to be. A”successful”analysis would be monstrous’.
-Janet Malcolm, The New Yorker, 1987′
Damn it, Janet, you (and Freud) were right.
It’s not over.
As Barthes, my dear original Roland has suggested in his last lectures before his death (which have recently been published), about The Preparation of The Novel, the novel is only the process of thinking and writing. It never really ‘exists’ especially not for the writer. This view is summed up by David Winters:
‘So, the novelist dreams of a single moment in which every ruinous thing she has done will be redeemed. Yet she is never delivered into this moment; her novel is a lie she tells herself, and literature is on the side of death. In the end, the novelist knows that she belongs here too, with literature.’
But I hope that in writing this thing I will have gained something, some insight, some clarity, some basis for peace of mind. And I hope that once the shock of it being out there, and the flush of shame of knowing that some people who are crucial to the story, have already read it, has subsided, I might start resembling a ‘normal’ human being (or at least not a total crazy nutjob one).
It had to be worthwhile didn’t it?