MSt tutor Wendy Brandmark: “On Letting go of a Novel”

On Letting go of a Novel
head shot Wendy

Wendy Brandmark

The launch of novel is an odd experience. Suddenly a book which never let go of me, no matter how exasperated I became with the puzzle of its story and bothersome group of characters, is finally making its way in the world.

My second novel, The Stray American, came out just before Christmas. I’ve been delighted to hear from readers who identify with Larry’s lonely journeys through London, who enjoy the comedy and have favourite characters and scenes. The novel is no longer mine. It’s true there were editors and writers who read the book before it was published, whose comments affected the revisions: the ending changed and most recently the title. But I miss the writing of the very first drafts when a tangle of relationships emerged from what had been just an image of expatriate Americans in London.

When asked why she wrote, poet Denise Levertov once said, ‘I like to make a thing.’ We spend much time thinking about agents and publishers. Somehow a book is not alive until it is published, and we as writers can only be validated in this way. But looking back, I think the real satisfaction was in early days when the novel began to take shape. That lone journey.

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MSt tutor Wendy Brandmark’s novel The Stray American is published by Holland Park Press.