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This blog makes liberal use of AB's journals, letters, travel notes, and other sources.
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Wednesday, 25 September 2013
Today I began a long novel. At 3.30 p.m. The hour has an interest - but only for me. I have not written a long novel for years. As a man with a secret tendency towards idleness I prefer to write a short novel. It is easier. Not easier to do but less of a strain on the creative faculties. What generally spoils long novels is the untimely supervening creative fatigue. It is a calamity which the author has very little power to prevent.
I reckon that this novel will fill 900 pages of manuscript. How do I reckon? I don't reckon. I just know. Experience has taught me pre-knowledge. When I began the "O.W.T." I announced to the domestic hearth that it owuld be 200,000 words long, divided into four parts. Well it was. The new novel will be 150,000 words long, and probably not divided into parts. I think I have now grown out of dividing novels into parts.
I know the main plot but by no means all the incidents thereof. I know the three chief characters but by no means all the ins-and-outs of them. They won't alter - I would never allow any character to get the whip-hand of me - but I shall fill them out. I know the 'feel' of the novel. That won't alter either. And I have the whole of the material of the novel, indexed, in a notebook. I would sooner lose fifty pages of the manuscript than that notebook.
I have been fighting for years against the instinct to write this particular novel. About thirty years ago I was taken to the Savoy Hotel for tea, came out, went home, and wrote "The Grand Babylon Hotel" in three weeks of evening work. The "G.B.H." was merely a lark but a big hotel de luxe is a very serious organisation; it is in my opinion a unique subject for a serious novel; it is stuffed with human nature of extremely various kinds. The subject is characteristic of the age; it is as modern as the morning's milk; it is tremendous and worthy of tremendous handling. I dare say it is beyond me. But nobody else has caught hold of it, and if I am not audacious I am nothing. Today I wrote 3 pages. 897 left to do! The thought is terrifying. Any serious novelist will agree with me as to the terrifyingness.
See also 'Subject for a novel?', February 2nd., - http://earnoldbennett.blogspot.co.uk/2013/02/subject-for-novel.html
Additionally for September 25th., see 'Thinking of H.G.' - http://earnoldbennett.blogspot.co.uk/2012/09/sunday-september-25th.html
I have recently been writing to H.G. to recommend that he consult Raphael Roche about Jane's cancer. Roche made a favourable impression on me when I talked to him for two hours in July. He does not claim any cure but does suggest that his 'treatment' is, at the least, an effective palliative; what is there to lose?