Saturday’s Herald Sun featured a Q & A interview with author Tom Rachman, who is described as a London-born, Vancouver-raised, Rome-based journalist. As I read it, I was struck by how similar some of our thinking was, given that I’m your average home-brand Victoria-born, Victoria-raised, Victoria-based journalist/author.
One of the questions asked was, “Was it always your goal, even before you became a journalist, to write a novel?” Mr Rachman’s reply is: “I became a journalist because I wanted to write fiction, as backward as that seems. I had planned to be a film-maker…but toward the end of my time at university I realised that it was fiction and stories that I really wanted to be writing…”
I entered university with no real idea what I wanted to do for a crust. I knew I wanted to write, preferably fiction. I considered script-writing but the career information seminar made it sound too cut-throat. (I think the phrase “like being raped by a two-tonne gorilla” might have deterred me.) I decided to have a crack at journalism, my logic being that I could write news stories by day and fiction by night. Naive? Totally.
Mr Rachman then speaks of being more confident in his work with his second manuscript, compared to his first. “I felt much more technically able… I had the misconception that a lot of people have about writing: that there are people who have talent and there are those who don’t. So when I sat down at my computer I was terrified that maybe I was one of those who didn’t, which was incredibly inhibiting, because you write something and then look at it and say, “My God, that doesn’t sound like Tolstoy to me, therefore I am completely untalented”. But in my case … I realised what was most important was having an idea, and, very, very incrementally, reaching that idea. And that involves a heck of a lot of work.”
OK. Let’s just say I know what he’s talking about. I read my stuff sometimes and wonder whether I should give up and go back to lawn-mowing. Or breaking rocks. My confidence ebbs and flows big time. Low tide is like, way, low, as my teen workshoppers might say.
I wouldn’t say I was any more confident with this manuscript than my first – apart from knowing my ever-enthusiastic agent would read it. But I certainly believe in the worth of fresh ideas and the power of perseverance. I’m on my 8th draft of Five Parts Dead and the final deadline is approaching fast. More sweat has gone into this story than anything I’ve written before. So I certainly understand the “incrementally” comment. And the “heck of a lot of work”.