Writing My Novel…

I am writing a novel set in Sri Lanka during the early 80s. I originally wrote it as a novella a few years ago and then put it in a drawer. I applied for a grant from the Canada Council for the Arts to develop it into a novel, and they said yes. So, I was forced to take it out of the drawer. I read the thing and decided it needed radical revision, far more than I originally thought. I’m not sure if I would have continued if it hadn’t been for the grant, so I’m truly grateful for this. I wrote some new material during a Freefall workshop this spring, and then fell into a slump, dug myself out by writing a page a day on anything (see earlier blog posts), and then, committed to writing a page a day on my novel starting June.

So, this is what I’m doing, more or less. It’s like chewing coals, most of the time. But some days are good, and it’s always good when I write. Even if what I write is crap. For the most part I’m rewriting from scratch, although this is quite painful as I’m the sort of person who hates to go back over old ground. The novella was split up into several narratives, from several points of view, which made the work very shallow. Or rather, I was not able to make it deeper. So now I’m concentrating on two narratives, both third person.

Helen, an English woman with a history of petty thievery and depression, and Raghunath, a homosexual Tamil of low-birth living in Anuradhapura. Helen is running away from a court case in London, running away from herself, and Raghunath has lost his first love, Sarith, a Sinhalese teacher who has been kind to him. Sarith has disappeared in the killings of Black July, 1983.

They meet in Anuradhapura, where Uta, a German woman who has befriended Helen runs an insurance scam with dire consequences for Raghunath…

So. There it is.

One page at a time.

About Sandra Jensen

I am a writer. I was born in South Africa and have British and Canadian citizenship. I have over 40 short story and flash fiction publications, including in: World Literature Today, The Irish Times, Descant, AGNI, The Fiddlehead and others. My work has received a number of awards including winning the 2012 bosque Fiction Competition and the 2011 J.G. Farrell award for best novel-in-progress. I have been awarded Professional Writer’s Grants from the Canada Council for the Arts, the Arts Council of Ireland and Arts Council England. The novel I have recently completed, Ten Virtuous Acts, is a literary adventure set in Sri Lanka during the civil war. I was a guest writer and panellist at the 12th and 13th International Conference on the Short Story (Little Rock, Arkansas and Austria); an invited participant at The Galle Literary Festival, Sri Lanka in 2011 and a six-time participant of the Sirenland Writer’s Conference in Positano, Italy. I attended The Banff Centre’s Wired Writing Studio in 2011/2012. I administer the In Memory of Vučko and AWABosnia websites, raising awareness and funds to stop animal suffering in Bosnia-Herzegovina. I live with my partner, David Crean and my foundling cat, Rónán.
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