Sunday, 27 June 2010

"Learning to Swim" - a bit of an Epiphanical book (if there's such a word)

I finished reading Clare Chambers' novel, 'Learning to Swim' this morning and after I'd put it down (gently, because, believe me, this book is as precious as any book can get.  It deserved more than quilted protection, it should have been cosseted in finely spun silk from the poshest silkworms, but as usual, I digress...) I had what I can only describe as a mini-epiphany. 
It is not the first time a book has had this kind of effect on me - 'The Help' was another and so was 'Her Fearful Symmetry'  (which my lovely writer-friend Michele also adored and blogged afterwards that it made her want to lie face down on the bed sobbing because she'd never write anything that good - she will, though, she's a fabulous writer).  But it IS the first time a book's made me stop and mull and think about what I truly want to achieve from my own writing endeavours.
And the conclusion I came to was that if I only ever wrote one book that carried with it even half the depth and humour and incredible observations and took a reader on such an awe-inspiring journey of discovery such as this, then I would die a happy bunny.
I used to think that writing 'bookS' - plural - was what I ultimately wanted to achieve, but if I could write just  ONE that's as perfect as this one is (even Lisa Jewell heralds it "a perfect novel") then all my hard work will not have felt in vain.
And I'm not sure I would cope very well with writing subsequent (published) books for fear of them not being as good as the first - I'd worry so much I'd disappear into a pool of perspiration. 
So these four books I've thus far written are merely my Practice Papers, my Mocks for the One.  And it will come, of this I am certain.
(Even if it's posthumously, although I'd prefer it not to be...)
But you MUST read "Learning to Swim".  It's an absolute joy.

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