I should be walking the dog right now but I’m slightly concerned that the black smoke billowing out of the gutters up the road might still be billowing so I’ll post here instead (it was like that monster from Lost). This is a bit of a sidestep from the poems I’m posting, a little break (an aside – the link will be startlingly clear in a bit) and I hope it doesn’t make people think I’ve given up on Lyrpole and the Jarg Flim because I haven’t, I’ve just had a day focused on tidying my novel Ark Noon. Would you like to know a bit about Ark Noon? Okay, I’ll begin.
I’ve been writing it for a while. Maybe that’s wrong. The genesis of the idea has been there for a while. It was about 5 years ago I think. I was getting a bus to work and I got so soaked in the rain I had to get off the bus near my mum and dad’s house and just dry out for a bit (drink tea, steal my dad’s suit). I remember that when I got on the next bus I started writing notes for this idea. The world was one big mess of rain and water. I think, or rather I sort of believe it now, that one of the first things I wrote was the tile, the main character’s name – Ark Noon. That’s what I tell myself now. I always knew the story in my head – a world somehow flooded, a boy living in what’s left of the Pennines (maybe), goes off to look for his dad. Originally there was a mysterious figure turning up, this was the catalyst for the father leaving rather than simply his breakdown, madness. I spent a year writing the first chapter but not going further than that. I spent the next few years writing things in my notebooks, to do lists, like ‘Plot Ark Noon’. It was always there. But I wrote young adult stuff, fantasy. I wrote a book about a wolf hiding under a table. I wrote a book about a metal monster who, it turns out, is terrified by the sun, I wrote a lot of poems. It was only last year that I came back to Ark. I wrote about 30,000 words and then stopped. I took the core of his character, this disillusioned kid and I started thinking I was writing something that though attempting to be ‘real’ was too much fantasy, I told myself to write something contemporary, a bildungsroman, a coming of age book. I wrote Atlas. Rory Molyneux gets an Atlas from his uncle and falls in love with a girl I don’t know, it’s there, complete, but when I read it I sort of hate it. So when I was having a ‘poetry is only for middle class bastards’ period back in January/February I bought some notebooks and started to write. The first words I wrote were ‘and the water and the water and the water’. Right away I guessed I was writing about water. And then it hit me, Ark was back (this isn’t true, I just wrote it and didn’t get struck by Ark’s inevitable return because I meant to write about him, it was not a shock). Anyway I wrote the Ark section pretty quickly. I say the Ark section but originally this Ark section was the whole book, around 40,000 words and I wanted it to be a sort of novella like Heart of Darkness, slim and stark and raw and dark. When I started typing it up I kept having this niggling feeling that I was missing something, that I wasn’t doing what I set out to do. I considered embellishing a character, Eddie Croasdale, but I didn’t like that, it felt like I was taking the focus too much from Ark and it also felt like it didn’t add to the book. What eventually came to mind was the idea of using ‘asides’. I started writing little sections such as ‘The Day Sarah Penny Died’, ‘Father Leigh and the Witches’, ‘My Radio Loves Me’, ‘Letters from the Dead World’, ‘God Likes Jazz’, ‘Pod, You Are Pod’, ‘What Happened to Pandora Grey’. They were sort of little sections dealing with other characters, none of them in the first person. They would appear in the book as ‘1st Aside’ etc. They didn’t intrude on Ark, they gave the story more scope. I liked them.
One other thing about Ark Noon is how it’s written. The Aside are written in pretty standard prose but when I started writing in the notebooks I found myself doing something weird. It wasn’t meant to be a gimmick, pleas believe me. What I did was I just didn’t stop for fulls tops. It became just one continuous sentence, the pauses coming in through ‘but’ and ‘so’ and ‘and’ etc. I hate it when people say the character comes to them and dictates how they write but I really feel like when I was thinking of Ark, of the story, I had to write it in this way to actually write it if you get what I mean, like the reason I hadn’t written it for so long was because I couldn’t get at Ark’s voice but when I discarded a normal prose structure and sort of went to a more poetic, prose poem-y kind of feel, I couldn’t stop writing. That was it with the notebooks, I couldn’t stop writing. Maybe when I’ve read through the whole book a few more times I’ll change things, put in sentences. It’s quite hard to get the flow right when typing it up, you have to sculpt things a bit, shape the, er, stream of consciousness (eek).
I’ll post a chapter here and maybe a couple more. I haven’t sent Ark Noon anywhere yet, I think I will but maybe if people specifically email me to tell me how shit it is I won’t (please don’t do that).
Here it comes, next post. Now I’ll risk the billowing black smoke monster because the dog is looking at me with a disturbing look of intense desire/love/suspicion/resentment/anticipation.