(Opening Chapter of 'Finding Myself')
This morning, after long discussions with my Agent, I finally sent my
Editor, Simona Princip, the following:
I can't write this in neat, organised sections - you know how I am. So
I'm just going to blather it out whichwise-whatever, and let you on that
basis make up your mind.
FROM THE LIGHTHOUSE
What I'm proposing to write wont be a novel per se (not like my
previous ones, anyway). Instead, it will be a novelisation of something
that really happened. Not something that has already happened, but something
that will - because I make it - one day, one month, August most likely
- happen. Half my job in writing it (the docu-novel, the true-life story,
call it whatever you like) will be to control the actual events.
My idea: You pay me a sizeable advance, with part of which I rent a large
house by the sea (within sight of a lighthouse, preferably). I then contact
a number of my friends - hereafter referred to as 'characters'. What I
propose to them, roughly, is this:
You can come and stay, completely free, for a month, in this lovely
seaside house I've rented. (Good food and plenty of alcohol will also
be provided, gratis.) But you must allow me to write up the events of
the month (yes, August, I think) in a semi-fictionalised form, afterwards.
(In other words: you promise not to sue.) My publisher's lawyers have
sorted all this out. Disclaimers and that sort of thing. Copyright issues.
However, at the end of the proposed book, you will get three full pages
(approx. 1,000 words) to say exactly what you like. If you think I've
distorted things, told outright lies, etc., you can contradict me. And
I, for my part, promise not to interfere editorially with your text in
any way. Even if it is, as I suspect some of it might be, libellous of
me. I am inviting ten other people along, as well. Some of them you know;
some of them you don't.
I would select my characters very carefully: a couple of couples, a quartet
of single bisexuals, an egoist or two, the odd drama queen, someone suicidal,
someone eccentric, someone older, at least one other professional writer
(less successful than me). Mix together. Slosh in the alcohol. Sprinkle
a pinch or two of magic dust on top. And - voilà - cocktail time.
Plus, once everybody has confirmed, I will sit down and write a Synopsis.
This will be a ten or so page prediction of exactly what I think will
happen when all my characters get together. When finished, it will be
sealed, notarised, given to you, and published at an appropriate point
in the book. Then people, by which I mean readers, can see: How wrong
or right was I? Do I know my friends as well as I think I do?
Of course, I won't be able to change a comma of the Synopsis - once it's
in your hands. (I may need to add an addendum, however.)
Finally, if you're worrying that nothing at all will happen and you'll
be left with a no-goer, I can promise that at least one major thing definitely
will. Unfortunately, I cant say what. You'll just have to trust
The cost to you? Well, I'd usually say make me an offer of the sort that
my agent would call 'quite interesting'; but with an idea this good, I
think you might even have to stretch to 'very'.
This afternoon, Simona replied:
Victoria, you are such a genuis!
Count me in, as publisher and participant.
(Can William come, too? Please. He's dying to.)
'Very' is a lot, but let me see what I can do.
I think I deserve a treat, don't you?