Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Re-finding the voice

I've been working on my novella for a proposed anthology based around my story Angels, Oddities and Orthodox Habits, and I've been struggling a little. It's partly because I'm not 100% sure what I need to add to the story to make it fuller, and better, and party because I'm finding it very hard to get back into my narrator's voice. Angels was originally an experiment in writing Southern Gothic and uses a very overblown, lush narrative style. When I wrote the beginning part of it, many years ago now, I found the florid language funny and enjoyed pushing myself to write in a style completely unlike my usual clean, simple and straightforward one. When I extended and finished the story last year, I found it a little difficult to find my way back in, but managed. Now, I'm having trouble.

I wrote at first part of this story after practically overdosing on Nick Cave's music. I've been a huge fan for about 25 years now, but had kind of let my passion for his work slide a little. I owned all his older records on vinyl or cassette, and with CDs becoming popular (guess I'm showing my age here), I didn't re-buy everything again. Then, after more than 10 years of trying, I finally had the opportunity to see him on stage for the first time. I was completely blown away. He held a second show a week later and I went again and loved it just as much.

I went out and bought all the old records again on CD over a period of about 6 weeks, listening to each and every one over and over again, remembering why I had always loved it so much. If you're not familiar with the work of Nick Cave, his songs are very narrative driven. There are characters and stories in every one, usually not very nice ones. But there's always a sense of humour about it. Death and murder and blood feature often, as do criminals and spurned lovers.

So I guess it's no surprise that the sordid little town in which Angels is set sprang from my imagination after being mired in this music for several months. Maybe to find River's voice again, I need to listen to Nick Cave a lot more than I have been recently - to be honest, except at work where it's just background, I barely listen to music anymore - and then I'll find my path with this particular project.

Now, where did I put my headphones?

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