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PHILIP SALOM

Poet and Novelist

 

Another Novel Hits the ...

It is finished bar the shred-fest of in-house editing. Novel number three. It appeared directly on my computer screen at something like 1000 words a day during the last semester of my lectureship at Melbourne Uni. That was 2008.

This writing was to be a two-way negotiation with myself: to create some form in that last hot semester and, for the first time in my experience as a writer, to set a number (or thereabouts) of words per day and write to that number every day and see what accreted. I chose 1000 words for no other reasons than the nice healthy figure and it being (surely) very do-able. The words could take 15 minutes or three hours, time wasn't the issue; that I was impressed by the words was the issue. I would call it a 1000 only when I had achieved something special each time. I had a few characters to play with and quite unexpectedly an eccentric narrator immediately took over the 'writing' and a comic novel began appearing in front of me. I had never before typed my work directly onto the screen. I write poetry longhand and my two previous novels  were also done in longhand. I wanted to be a real writer! 

I wrote something like 33,000 words that year and in 2009 perhaps 30,000 more and in 2010 I added 60,000 ... so by 2011 I had approx 120,000 words.

2010 also saw the publication of Keepers (it was written in 2006-2007) and in 2011 The Keeper of Fish by Alan Fish arrived, written concurrently with Keepers. In between, I discovered Keeping Carter - a high-spirited and misanthropic burst in 2010, which was topped up in 2011. Now all three books of that dubious trilogy are published and the first two have been re-printed. They are out there on the street bothering people. 

So, back to the novel, which has collected another 10,000 words, and falls with a great thud. There does seem to be a line of continuity in tone and especially satirical humour running through all these books I have written since 2006, ending in full madness in the novel. Its provisional title is The Waiting Room. And its ghost writer-ancestors are Virginia Woolf, Gertrude Stein, Samuel Beckett and possibly Flann O'Brien. If anything of these writers has rubbed off, I'll be very bloody pleased. It's not for me to say. There is little storyline, though some, and there are many eccentric characters, none more so than the narrator - who is not characterised technically but is best described as third-person indulgent. 

Everything is in the detail and the observations and the frequent dialogue.These are not people you are likely to meet very often, and just as well!