Frightened to Start a Novel

I have slipped into the happy rut of short story writing. Well, it’s not always happy, maybe joyous, exhilarating, arse grinding mayhem. I think that sums up short story writing and poetry too. I have retreated somewhat from the latter, not because I don’t have poetry to write, I am just not in the frame of mind to write it. Call it grief after my Dad’s death but I know it is something more. Call it fear. Call it age. Call it something that lurks in the dark. I can never escape the poetic or the lyrical it feeds into my short fiction but in a novel could I get away with it? I don’t want to be accused of Magic Realism, my realism and magic derives from a world long gone, a world of corner shops, chippies on every street, people who gossiped in ginnels, strange places where you met your friends, at a certain time because you told each other to do so and that was law. My magic lies in the nature found in the cracks between houses that were derelict, in mills that closed, in a countryside that wrapped and cosseted my childhood town, post industrial, pre-suburbia, a ghost land of what may have been and what never would be for many.

Image result for car crash 1930s people watching

I am frightened to start my novel because that is the crux of climate change, a ghost world of refugees, displaced people, war, water and food. Dreams of food never tasted. Wishes for water that flows from a tap and a tickertape in my head of numbers getting higher and higher, the count of the dead. If we added together all those that have been here before us and that’s
110,000,000,000 (that’s one hundred and ten billion for us who prefer long hand) that means the death of half our species to climate change is a drop in the ocean of history. I am frightened to start my novel in case it goes nowhere, never gets published but at the same time it scratches at me, bangs inside my skull to be let out. I have a story to tell. It may break me to tell it. That frightens me. To see the human face of climate change is nothing new but to give it a narrative that compels the reader to not look away is like a car crash, happening time after time after time in a continuous none ending loop that lasts the length of all life that has even been on this planet. As we watch unable to look away at our own madness.

You can follow me here each Wednesday through the #clifimadness project which chronicles my research into climate change and how addressing it in fiction, the novel form, may be the answer to reaching a wider audience. I will chronicle my everyday ramblings on twitter and Facebook, please sign up for info there.

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