Mrs. Darwin is Writing a Novel

A draft in a month!  An example to us all.

[Photo source.]


  1. Jonathan Webb says

    Is it about rabbits like Watership Down, or is it about people?

    I’m tired of people. Soylent Green is made out of people.

  2. I don’t know anything about Darwin. Did he come before or after Nietzsche? But I think if your instincts were less repressed you would write a little better.

    • Virginia (Ginnie) Greenhill clatters down on high heels…She offers (Daniel, the vicar) tea, shortbread, comfort. She has a sweet face, round, with round glasses resting on round pink cheeks…She settles down in her own armchair…Daniel is drowsy. His telephone rings.

      “Remember there is no God.” (the caller says this)
      “So you have said before.” (Daniel answers)
      “And because there is no God, do as thou wilt shall be the whole of the law.”
      “So you have also said before.”
      “If you knew what the meant. If you really knew. You would not sound so complacent.”
      “I hope that is not how I sound.”
      “You sound stolid, you sound blinkered, you sound one-dimensional.”
      “You never let me say much, to sound anything.”
      “You are not supposed to mind that. You are supposed to listen to what I have to say to you.”
      “I do listen.”
      “I abuse you. You don’t respond. I can hear you turning your other cheek. You are a Christian parson or person. I waste your time. You waste your own time, since there is no God. …”
      “You want me to dislike you,” says Daniel, carefully.
      “You do dislike me. I can hear it in your voice. I have heard it before. I tell you God is dead, and you dislike me.”
      “I listen to you, God or no God.”
      “And haven’t once told me I must be very unhappy, which is very clever of you, since I am not.”
      “I am reserving judgement,” says Daniel grimly.
      “So just, so restrained, not a fool.”
      “The fool hath said in his heart, there is no God.”
      “So I am a fool?”
      “No. I just said that, because it seemed to fit. I couldn’t resist it. Count is unsaid, if you like.”

      “It is my calling to call you and tell you there is no God. One day you will hear me, and understand what I say.”
      “You don’t know what I understand. You are making me up.”

      “Ah, you are riled. I’ll go. Until next time.”
      “As you will,” says Daniel, who is indeed riled.

      “Steelwire,” says Ginny Greenhill. She has given this name to the death-of-god-monger, because of his voice, a clear BBC twang, a produced voice, plangent and metallic….” He won’t usually talk to me. It’s you he likes. He just tells me there is no God and rings off. I say, yes dear, or something inane, and he rings off. I’ve not idea if he’s upset, or malicious, or what. Down here, I suppose, we are likely to over-react, to suspect someone who merely wants to rile you, of being desperate, even if he isn’t. We see the underside of the needle, I suppose.”

      Her needles tap. Her voice is comfortable, like honey and toast. She is in her fifties, unmarried. She does not invite questions about her private life….She is a devout Christian and finds Steelwire harder to take than masturbators in phone-booths.

      –From Babel Tower by A.S.Byatt

  3. There’s a difference between repressing something and acting on something.

    • Matthew Lickona says

      Well, yes. If you repress it, you’re not acting on it. If you act on it, you’re not repressing it. Perhaps you meant that there’s a difference between repressing something and NOT acting on something. If that is what you meant, then there is indeed a discussion to be had. But you know, I think there’s a lot to be said for repression when it comes to writing well. There’s a reason we have so much wonderful English literature. And I don’t know if a truly, altogether unrepressed soul would ever bother to write. It’s the repressed thing that returns, after all – isn’t it?


  4. Angelico Nguyen, Esq., OP says

    Great news. I’ve been hoping for a while that one of the Darwins would draw out one of those ‘Orphan’ ideas into something more. Good luck, ma’am!

    Now to get cracking on my 1930s Shanghai Graham Greene choose-your-own-adventure novel….

  5. Jonathan Webb says

    I’m going to a nudist camp and work on chapter one.

  6. Oh you kids….

    I don’t know whether I feel more like the blank page, the empty cup or the burning candle in the photo. But I welcome all constructive advice from the Korrectiv crew.

    Just today, in fact, I found myself staring at my draft and murmuring, “God is dead. I’m too busy.”

  7. I don’t have time to write drafts – and am not offering to read any either!

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