I’m developing a novel and it’s going quite well. But there’s a problem — it’s meant to be an allegory of the Trump Era in the guise of a very snappy, accessible thriller. I’m growing a little nervous that while I will finish it, when I try to sell it, the context of the market will be profoundly different than I might ever expect.
The novel I’m developing has zero literary aspirations. It may if you realize it’s meant to be me screaming — in a very diffused manner — about how much I hate extremism, but, lulz. I just want everyone to have a good time. Ok, maybe not MAGA, they can suck it. But everyone else.
I really like this novel because of how character-driven it is. I really enjoy the characters I’ve come up with — especially the heroine. She’s a lot of fun. While she’s a bad ass who will kick your ass as need be, she’s not dark and unlikeable like Lisbeth Salander. She does have a pretty warped background like Salander, but I want you to like her. I want you to root for her.
Of course, I have to balance that will the risk of her coming off as nothing more than yet another sexxxy slutty assassin. I have to make her dark enough and complex enough that women (the audience) like her, but attractive enough that the marketplace (men) can hang their sexxy time fantasies on her in their minds. It’s a very complicated artistic balance.
I just hate the idea that I have to sacrifice my heroine’s likability or sex appeal in some ideological quest to make her a feminist icon. I mean, there IS sex-positive feminism, as Emily Ratajkowski makes clear on a daily basis. (Whoa buddy.)
All that doesn’t even begin to address the issue that because of identity politics I could do exactly what I set out to do and STILL “trigger” people because, well, lulz I’m a man and I should just fuck off. An example of this is a little Twitter tussle I got in with Crooked Media’s Erin Ryan. I will admit that I was a bit passive-aggressive about this very issue with her and she called me out on it, but I did make a pretty important point: it’s unlikely I will ever be able to placate her in my art. Not only am I not wealthy and / or talk dark and handsome, but I’m exactly the middle-aged white male member of the patriarchy she complains about all the time (albeit a very well-meaning loser version of it.)
I think I’m just going to pause here for a moment and have a pity party about how brutally real this concept is.
Ok, back to writing.
I guess the issue is — I want to placate Ms. Ryan with this novel while not being so preaching (ex: Olivia Wilde’s movie Book Smart) that center-Right men won’t be able to enjoy the novel on the face of it as a thriller. That’s my goal — to write a “woke” tenpole, if you will. But really, it wouldn’t be seen as all that woke because I’m going to rant against “woke” and “cancel” culture just as much fucking MAGA.
All I ask is a pandemic doesn’t make it impossible for me to sell this novel. Please?
Development of the novel I’ve been working on for about the last year is going well. But I have to accept there are some existential issues that aren’t going anywhere. I’ve been using Stieg Larsson’s The Girl Who Played With Fire as my “textbook,” and, as such, I’ve picked up some of its macro structure, at least the first part of it.
As you may know, that novel actually has a “first part” that is more of a first adventure for the heroine than anything to do with the greater plot. That’s one of the reasons why that book’s word count is about 185,000 instead of the 165,000 of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo. I’m growing so frustrated with how long development has taken — and it’s actually going really well — so I’ve decided that the metric I’m going to use is results. I’m going to keep going with development, finish it and the write a first, serious draft as quickly as possible.
Though any number of disasters could strike that would make finishing the novel at least more difficult. I know the general plot of the novel so well that it’s really just a matter of doing the hard work at this point. I’m fully prepare to do that, but I also don’t want to wake up and it be a year from now and I’m still struggling with the finer points of this or that plot point. I want to actually finish the damn thing and try to sell it.
I really enjoy this novel for a number of reasons. There’s a surprise on every page and it affords me the opportunity rant — in a very diffused manner — about a wide range of things that really piss me off about the modern Trumplandia Era. If I was a better writer, you wouldn’t be able to figure out my politics. But, alas, while I’m not going to preach at you, I think you’ll be able to figure out I fucking hate MAGA with a white hot creative rage.
I kind of — for the time being — have something of an idyllic situation for developing and writing a novel. I would prefer a pandemic not make that a lot more difficult. But time will tell, I guess.
The thing I realized today is there’s no way to avoid my own personal rage at MAGA from coming out. My hatred of MAGA is so central to the conceit of the tale that I’m just going to have to accept that I can’t do what I really wanted to do, which was write a great tale that was on its surface just that.
As such, if there’s any chance this actually gets published and is a success, there’s a real chance that there will be a lot of hate-readers. The presence of Trump is felt in the very DNA of the story. I want this to come across as a political fairytale for woke Park Slope moms. A guilty pleasure, if you will.
While I may be able to get close to that, I can’t help that it’s pretty obvious who this story is directed towards. My only hope is that the characters are interesting enough that at least some of the center-Right might be willing to put aside my subtle ranting against MAGA long enough to enjoy the story.
The tale is supposed to be an indictment of extremism in general. That’s the goal. But I have to admit to myself that if this story actually gets any traction that a lot of conservatives will be so angry at how much rage I’m directed at MAGA (if in a fuzzy way) that they will bitch and moan about the story in general.
But I don’t know. I just don’t know. This is not meant to be high art. This is pop art. It’s meant to be a snapshot of the Trump Era via allegory. But the main point at this time is to simply finish the first draft.
One thing that’s really important to me is to try to make this sufficiently timeless — much like the movie Network — that it stands on its own terms and is not dated too quickly. We’ll see, I guess. I just have to believe in myself and keep writing.