Raw Meat .. Nicola Batty's Newsletter.

Monday, January 08, 2007

RM#76

RAW MATERIALS
It's quite difficult to return to The Space Between after the Christmas intermission (which is a space between in itself). I broke off part way through chapter 5 so I'm including a portion near the beginning of the chapter which I've written afresh and stuck onto the existing Arrested. I don't know if you will even remember Arrested from a year ago, it was one of the first bits I wrote for The Space Between even though I knew that it wouldn't be used for quite some time. Well now is the time for it to be used… only the novel has taken a different shape now and so much of Arrested needs looking at and rewriting. Different characters have come into focus, especially Robbie Ross and even Constance Wilde. The story of Wilde's arrest is such a famous yarn I thought it should be given a new and different slant by telling it from a different point of view and of course Constance's fall downstairs was such a beautiful metaphor that it had to be used. It never ceases to amaze me that Oscar didn’t pick up on his wife's physical fall to mirror his own fall from success and splendour into prison and then obscurity. It’s a perfect illustration of that sweeping arc he talked about so much, that is his vision of life as a work of art in which downhill plummets will come inevitably after success. It's a sad fact that Oscar didn't only destroy his own career and life but also Constance's and I thought that she should get a look in for a change! I recently read the play The Secret Fall of Constance Wilde by Thomas Kilroy and that probably gave me the idea for including the piece you'll find in this issue.By concentrating on Constance's physical injuries instead of Wilde's imprisonment I hope to present the story in a new light and also to allow Robbie Ross a bit of space, which he deserves. This last period of Wilde's life which could be seen as his exile has always fascinated me, in fact I've written The Turn of the Century Party partly about it. I was reading recently in the newsletter of The Oscar Wilde Society that Rupert Everett (one of my many heroes) is beginning work on a film covering these last few years of Wilde's life spent around Europe, until his death as a penniless outcast in Paris… so perhaps it's not just me who's fascinated!! The structure of this chapter is something I'm still not all happy about… I'm concerned that having many little fragments will work against the rest of the novel, which is generally flowing. The way this chapter is working out makes it essential that it should be a central point of the novel, perhaps a halfway point, or a turning point anyway. For so long I've been working towards this chapter, so that now I've reached it I feel quite panic stricken at the realisation that there's still an awful lot more of the novel to go before the end! Not that I have any shortage of ideas or characters I want to develop after Arrested. My only worry is that I have too many ideas; it’s always an effort to keep hold of my imagination and organise my ideas into a coherent order. I want to spend some time in the latter half of the 1890’s developing Harriett’s relationship with Ricketts, and also Jack’s relationship with Freddie… these are both key elements which have been hinted at but need more time spent on so that the next novel will develop on naturally. I’ve still not made my mind up definitely where or when to end the novel. It would be logical in a way to include it with Wilde’s death in 1900 so it will cover the ‘Wilde years’. But I’m concentrating on the disappearance of The Portrait of Mr WH… which goes on long after Wilde’s death! Also because I’ve deliberately avoided drawing too much attention to Wilde himself, it would make no sense to end the novel when he dies. If this novel is going to be called To Be Suggestive then it should have an open ending based on fictional characters rather than real ones. Also it would be logical to end where the scene changes and sees the Portrait of Mr WH transported elsewhere, but I’m not quite sure where yet! Anyway, these are just ideas - the difficult thing is to organise them into a novel format! Although I’m well practiced at novel writing, writing a trilogy is quite different and presents new challenges… it’s more like writing one episode of a soap opera, where you have to keep in mind the ongoing stories of people’s lives. It’s an absorbing task which completely obsesses me… I just hope it all works out!!

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