I haven’t written very much about my novel on this blog because I am not so naïve to believe that me talking about my own novel is anywhere near as interesting to anyone else as it is to me. But I have a policy when it comes to Thing of the Week that I have to be completely honest about what my Thing of the Week is and not just claim that something that isn't my Thing of the Week is my Thing of the Week because it sounds like it might be more appealing for other people to read. (Same goes for my Dream Today Vibe.)
I left my job a week ago. Managing a restaurant took up so much of my time & energy that it's been ages since I've been able to write properly as much and the way I want to. This week, I am making up for lost time. I'm writing like how I used to write, when I woke up every morning with ideas in my mind and the drive to turn those ideas into sentences. My heart is beating fast again. I am hyper & alone & it is beautiful.
I started writing my novel two years ago. I had the idea of it in my head for while before that, but it took me some time to admit to myself that it was an okay thing for me to write about. My nov is a fake memoir written from the perspective of the imaginary female drummer of the Beatles. It's a feminist reinterpretation of a very male story. I love the Beatles so much, but sometimes feel troubled that the thing I love most in the world is so aggressively dude-oriented, so I'm fixing that. The only thing that could make the Beatles better than they were would be more girl representation. In my opinion.
(Sometimes when I tell the concept to people they feel really sorry for Ringo, but it’s okay, guys. Ringo is going to come into the story and get some representation for being the nice chill Ringo he is. You don’t have to worry about Ringo. He’s safe here.)
I was nervous to start writing my novel because I felt lame for writing a novel that is basically fanfiction, but it’s chill fanfiction. It’s literary fanfiction. It’s a “historical novel.” I still feel embarrassed to tell people what my novel’s about, I’m afraid they’re going to be all, “Oh, Beatles girl, so obsessed with the Beatles, look at her Beatles tattoos, get another interest besides the Beatles,” but fuck it, I guess. I do love the Beatles best, and even if you don't care about the Beatles at all, you have to admit that it's a real romp of a novel-concept.
Sometimes I think to myself, “If I ever have a kid, there’s no way I’m going to love it as much as the main character in my novel,” and I think if there’s anything the past few days have taught me, it’s that I’m right. I don’t know a whole lot, but there are a few things I know for sure. One is that push-ups work, another is that listening to Hey Jude fixes almost everything, and the last is that I will definitely love my hypothetical child less than I love Marty McCartney. That’s her name, the drummer. She’s Paul’s little sister, because having my girl drummer be related to one of the other Beatles is the only way I could have it make logical sense that the Beatles would allow a girl into their band in 1961. I chose Paul to be the brother because he’s the only Beatle who would have been sweet and loyal enough to let his sister join his band, and also because the idea of having Paul McCartney be your older brother is really appealing to me. I love Paul McCartney so much more than I ever thought I could now that he’s become the person I love most in the world’s big brother. Marty has such a hard time of it, sometimes, and he’s always so nice to her. They’re the rhythm section together. Two steadfast McCartneys, holdin’ it down.
I’ve written what I’ve written of my novel so far in chronological order, from 1944 up to 1967, which means that the beginning of it was really sloppy, because I didn’t know what the fuck I was writing about when I first started writing it. I didn’t really understand who Marty was yet. I started writing her as being this super-classy old lady, and also I was still in Canada, so I was trying to impersonate the way I thought English people talked in an extremely over-the-top way that was very embarrassing for me to edit. I swear I used the words “bollocks” and “rubbish” like five times per sentence. It was some pretty impressively bad writing.
I had a revelation about how to fix the beginning of my nov a couple months ago while walking home from work and listening to Say You’ll Be There by the Spice Girls on my headphones. I had a vision of the opening to the Say You’ll Be There video where it goes from Spice Girl to Spice Girl to Spice Girl and says “Victoria as… Midnight Miss Suki,” and etc, and gets you really hype on the idea of each individual Spice Girl as being her own self. I wanted the beginning of my novel to feel just like that, only with each of the Beatles plus Brian Epstein and George Martin instead of Mel B or Emma Bunton or whatever. It felt really exciting to go back in time and rewrite those parts as actual Marty and not just fake Canadian-English-accent Marty. It’s hard to write about the 1950s because I don’t actually give a fuck about what the 1950s were like, so I had the idea to keep those parts as sparse as possible, and distance them from having any real connection to actual place or time. I wanted them to be able to happen anywhere, any year. The only major cultural references I left in are Buddy Holly-related. Marty McCartney loves Buddy Holly the same way I love the Beatles.
After I solved that problem I fixed up the cooler, later chunk of my novel, which starts in 1963 and so far only goes up to 1967. I edited all like 80,000 words of that over the course of one extremely weird afternoon, which was yesterday. It was the first day I’ve had in about ten years where it took me until 5:30 PM to take a shower.
There are a bunch of parts of it that I get a kick out of and read all the time, like the part where Marty drinks Gevrey-Chambertin ("As light-bodied and acidic as your average Bob Dylan") with Bob Dylan, & the part when Marty takes acid and loses her shit at Mick Jagger on All You Need Is Love day. There’s also a really cool part where Marty gets an eye infection, because why not have there be an eye infection chapter in my Beatles-novel? There’s literally nothing in the world I’m better at writing about.
But the nicest thing that happened to me on editing my entire novel day was that I got to read back some parts that I forgot I ever wrote. I got to have the very cool experience of reading the sentence, “But then they both ended up declining my invitation in the name of going home to their wives, which is pretty much the dictionary definition of what it means to have a situation blow up in your face,” and laughing at it. Poor Marty. I also got to have the equally cool but also somewhat tragic experience of reading back the part where Marty gets her heart broken. I cried at it. I don’t know if everybody in the world would cry at it, but maybe somebody would, and I guess I want them to. I sent out this big draft to a bunch of people the other day, and I’m excited to hear what people have to say about it, but mostly I just want them to love her. I understand that probably no one else will love her quite as much as I do, but it would mean the world to me if they might even love her a little bit.
LIZ'S THING OF THE WEEK: Ireland
I'm going to Ireland next year. Here are some of my Ireland inspirations:
Also this paragraph from Birds of America by Lorrie Moore:
"The Irish countryside opened up before them, its pastoral patchwork and stone walls and its chimney aroma of turf fires like some other century, its small stands of trees, abutting fields populated with wildflowers and sheep dung and cut sod and cows with ear tags, beautiful as women. Perhaps fairy folk lived in the trees! Abby saw immediately that to live amid the magic feel of this place would be necessarily to believe in magic. To live here here would make you superstitious, warmhearted with secrets, unrealistic. If you were literal, or practical, you would have to move - or you would have to drink."
And and and this song, the most beautiful/dramatic & rudest & most novelistic love song in the world, which - combined with "Don't Change" by INXS and "Jump in the River" by Sinead O'Connor and "Termite Tree" by Helium and "Big Black Car" by Big Star - is a very solid representation of what I want my book to feel like: