This week has been a week of more downs than ups, and I find myself perfectly in tune with my current read, Home, by Marilynne Robinson. It has been sitting on my bedside table for some time, waiting for the right moment to arrive – I had dipped into it before and set it aside – which just goes to show that there is a perfect novel for every moment in your life, and that there is a place for haunting, lyrical, reflective writing. In fact, there is a very real need for it.
A quote from the Weekend Australian sums it up perfectly: ‘In an age when books must shout to be heard above the cacophony, the success of Marilynne Robinson – indeed the existence of this writer – is a lovely miracle.’
Like many others I suspect, I have been advised that my writing is ‘too quiet’ for the current market. It’s something I’ve thought long and hard about, because anyone writing with a view to publication has to battle between the demands of that market and the work they want to produce. And even compromise may not be acceptable.
I recently exchanged emails with a successful published writer:
HIM: Never had a plot issue that corpses couldn’t solve. Me, I dismember them and scatter them round (Insert name of City here).
Although flippant, there was truth in the content. And yet I would prefer one review that said, ‘I found this the most involving and moving novel I have read for many years. Emotionally true, painful and challenging’ (taken from Amazon) to a top 10 paperback I didn’t feel I could take pride in.
For now, my solution to finding myself out of step with the current market is self-publishing. I am reassured by the fact that the Sunday Times describes Marilynne Robinson as ‘one of the greatest living novelists.’ Even if I can’t aspire to that accolade, I can still take heart from it.