More than a month now since I took time off for reflection, and long enough to realize I shall be impossible to live with if I don’t write those other **!?** novels cavorting in my head.
It’s an odd situation, really. feeling pressured to publish books that few people are going to read. Why not leave them in their draft form, gathering dust on my shelves? They are written. And I enjoyed writing them in the first place. Why bother to dig them out, go over old ground, work on improving something I produced years ago?
Truth is, years ago, I was a Kept Woman and for three glorious years, wrote every day and produced four novels, several plays and a special book for my daughter. During that time, I found an agent, who tried to sell my first novel When the Bough Breaks, but alas, without success. Apparently, all the publishers said, “Difficult times. Do let us see her next.”
So I kept going. Unfortunately, she didn’t like the next, The Man with the Key, so I found a second agent, who did. But responses here were lukewarm too: “Too difficult to sell these quiet psychological novels. If she would write a best-seller, we could sell this then.”
A best seller? How do you write one to order? Some people apparently know, but I was completely baffled.
My time as a Kept Woman came to an end, and the realities of making a living seemed to dry up the creative juices. I changed tack. If I was writing “quiet psychological novels” without realizing, perhaps it was time to study psychology properly? When my children all left home for university, I decided to follow – and became a Mature Student at Oxford University, studying Experimental Psychology.
Not exactly what I had expected. In the early Eighties, scientific psychology was so restrained by the need to prove it really was an objective science, one might have thought the mind, the psyche, did not exist. But disillusion did not last. Extraordinarily ingenious experiments were devised to demonstrate the operations of the mind, and I discovered that this science was the most exciting and illuminating anyone could study. Which perhaps explains how it came about I was invited to stay on and do a doctorate in what was known as social psychology. Relations between people. Just the thing for a secret would-be novelist.
Actually, not. My novelistic ambitions faded into the background, and I became a psychotherapist instead – dealing with real people with real problems. It was only when I retired, after nearly 40 years as a scientist turned therapist, that I again felt that powerful urge to write my own versions of reality.
I still have no idea how I am going to deal with the need to publicise these books if I do publish them. I shall fall off that bridge when I come to it. First, I must finish The Porcupine’s Dilemma, my next “quiet psychological novel”.