Over the holiday period, I watched a beautiful film, Brooklyn, based on the novel written by Colm Tóibín. It is about a small-town Irish girl who emigrates to Brooklyn in the early 1950s. In the grand scheme of things, nothing much happens. She lives in a boarding house, gets a job, falls in love, gets married. It is, however, achingly poignant because we can all see aspects of our own small lives in it, even if we’ve never emigrated, even if we haven’t experienced the 1950s.
I am currently reading Normal People by Sally Rooney. It is a beautiful plot, set in modern day Ireland, focusing on the misunderstandings and miscommunications of an on again, off again, on again, off again (and so on) ‘couple’, Marianne and Connell. It is, however, achingly poignant because we can all see aspects of our own small lives in it, even if we’ve never lived in Ireland, even if our teenage years and early twenties have long since passed.
Yes, I have repeated the beginning of the final sentence of the first paragraph intentionally. Novels don’t need to be about dramatic events. They don’t need to be packed full of action to satisfy us. The jeopardies, the successes, the failures, the near-misses can be tiny, but if they resonate with us, they are magnified a thousandfold.
I am currently working on a dystopian novel and yes, there is action, there is suspense, there is misdirection, there are matters at stake that are more than the average person will ever experience. However, there is also the personal, the small events that I hope we can all identify with. There is betrayal, there is misunderstanding, there is anger, there is pain – the stuff of life. The plot needs that in order to feel realistic, to resonate.
I have sent sample text of Anti-Virus to a few editors this weekend and hope (fingers crossed) that I will gel with one of them and the way they work so that when I have finished my line edits, I can submit the full manuscript and wait for their response (eek!). I hope I have managed to interweave the personal amongst the political to a decent enough degree to make these things resonate in a sufficiently good way.
In the grand scheme of things, nothing much has happened this week, but I do feel as if I have made a concrete step towards publishing Anti-Virus. Anyone who has tried something new can identify with that. It’s the small things that resonate.