On the loom, constantly hand over your work. A spider doesn’t have to be asked, it sews, reinvents, waits, catches, repairs, like an aerial fisherman. The same applies to blood mesh.
I first met Annie Goulet, the editor in charge of my novel at VLB. The meeting took place at Juliette et Chocolat’s, just before my choir rehearsal.
Until now, we had only exchanged e‑mails decorated with vouchers. And it was, therefore, during the first half-hour, still charged with this politeness that we approached the novel.
The novel is certainly good, but Annie sees two major flaws (I use this word, she has never spoken like this): 1) the description of the dialogues is not literary, closer to “didascalia” (theatrical instructions), 2) the dialogues themselves sometimes lack naturalness. Annie would prefer a less polished language.
We then discussed several approaches. She asked me several questions, putting on the table a possible rewriting, the very abandonment of characters. For a while, I felt certain vertigo when I saw the text being deconstructed in this way and at the same time, I had to defend my way of approaching writing.
It was certainly dangerous to use the voices of several characters, I could have approached the story from the sole perspective of the “I”, I could have made the writer more involved in describing the dialogues, in short, I could have made some passages more literary. I understood all these things she was proposing to me and I felt alienated from literature, using my literary inability or lack of practice as an excuse.
Of course, it was a cold reaction. What she noticed, I noticed too. Annie’s right. I’ve always had trouble describing, because I may be visual, but I should probably have done better to write a film script. At the same time, if there is one mode of expression that has aged badly, it is the writing of novels. Theatre, cinema, opera, music are enjoying a renaissance, helped by technology and special effects. The novel, on the other hand, retains its syntactic shagreen, especially the French novel which, after many experiences, has difficulty getting out of its old canvas which it stubbornly patches up.
The only future probably rests on the author’s breath, who looks more and more like an ascetic forced to settle for his bowl.
So I’m looking for my breath ; there is no Photoshop for writing, no more After Effects, no Final Cut of the syntax.
Anglophone novelists may enjoy a little more freedom than francophones because their language likes rhythm, does not get entangled in long dashes to express dialogue, makes a spectacle of itself with all these consonants and contractions. I, who read a lot in English, would like to dust off the use of quadrants, get rid of cumbersome French quotation marks.
Are they just tricks ? Only excuses for my literary weaknesses ? I doubt it. I say it again, I’m looking for my breath. As I was saying to Annie, human thought is a maelstrom that, from individual to individual, does not differ greatly. I am very interested in this “poetry of thought”, this thick, sometimes suffocating chaos that our decency and our fear of the truth suffocates with convenience and punctuation.
That being said, I immediately agree to rewrite the novel to clarify my discomfort. I will redraw the web not by cutting in the characters, but by making sure that every word will be the result of a nourishing ember.
There are many dialogues in this novel. We need to find a way to bring them in, Annie and I. I say “we” because it is a team effort like English speakers do so well. I am pleased that VLB is taking on the role of editor at its true value. Among the English, a distinction is made between editor and publisher. The one who edits, and the one who publishes. An editor is not a reviser, a more clerical role.
In the middle of the meeting, I asked Annie if we could stop the “vouvoiement”. Francophones can be so polite and cold when they want. She burst out laughing frankly, her face immediately changing, friendly blood on her cheeks. “I’ve never talked that way to an author for so long!”
I wonder why I was imposing this distance. I look like this Serj from my novel, who surrounds himself with a volcano of silence. Finally, the ice is now broken and I’m going back to my adventure.
Oh, one last thing. I asked the question : “Does this title, Les Mailles sanguines, fit ? »
Annie was not asked to answer : “Well ! When you have the title in front of you, it passes, but when you tell someone, it gets stuck. »
I realized that. The Mesh… The enamel… blood, otherwise ? Every time I had to say the title to a caller, I would deliberately pause between the “Blood” “Mesh”. That’s not a good omen.
So everything is back on the table. I, who usually start with a title to write, now I am being taken away from the chair with which I was trying to reach my biscuit.
When I opened my photo management software, I came across this spider, photographed four years ago. The canvas… Is that a lead ? Aren’t these four children who return to the family circle after fifteen years of absence falling into the net of the past ? There you go, the writer’s machine is going crazy.