May 25: The Novel

My friend Emily emailed the other day and wondered whether because there hadn’t been much mention of The Novel, if perhaps it had fallen by the wayside. Non! It’s definitely progressing. I’m at the point now where I feel very guilty if I don’t write – except on Mondays, my day off. I’ve got a fairly good routine going, writing in the mornings after Joel leaves. Procrastination and the inner critic are my biggest enemies. I’ve learned, however, that if I just keep going, something will appear on the screen. It’s like diving in to cold water. You can dither and dither on the beach, but once you’re in, swimming feels fine.

Ted's hairy foot

I’ve been referring to The Novel as a hairball for years. Cat owners will know that cats develop hairballs from all the groomed fur they ingest, and eventually they have to be spat out, preceded by lots of cat-coughs. I’d prefer not to have ingested the cultural belief that, to paraphrase Jane Austen, a literate woman in possession of a good laptop must be in want of a publisher. I read a statistic the other day that one in every three French people wants to write a novel. I’m sure that can be extrapolated for all developed nations.

Would life have been a bit less complicated if I was more comfortable with paints instead of words? I see people all over Nice with their little easels, painting various shades of sky and sea with their portable watercolour sets.They couldn’t all be aiming for the National Gallery. People don’t say, oh! But you should exhibit! What about people who can play the guitar? Or the piano? I know plenty of people who sit down and enjoy the music they produce without people saying, oh! But you should join the Boston Symphony Orchestra! What about people who are excellent tennis players? Oh! But you should aim for Wimbledon!

Joel’s quite a taskmaster for me, but he’s quick to assure me just finishing The Novel will meet our little deal’s requirements. After that, it’s out of my hands, literally. Our friends Isabella and Ralph have turned one of their bathrooms into a proper print room, with prints (mostly of a fencing champion great grandfather, if I remember correctly) lining the walls. I’ll ask Isy to help me do something similar, in the proverbial way, with publishers’ rejection letters – though I guess they’re emails now.

Dancers on the tram

On Sunday I had the pleasure of not writing and NOT feeling guilty. My sister-in-law Daniele invited several family members to lunch at the restaurant, and that morning there was a vide-grenier (an empty your attic sale) with 300 exposants! How could I not go? We need a little table for a desk, as well as a couple of old road bikes. Just the place to find such things, though all I ended up with was a sunburn and an abacus for Michele to put by the till. When I got onto the tram on the way there, I was surrounded by a troupe of 30 or so traditional Nicois dancers in full costume, including goatskin cloaks. Surreal!

Dancer on the tram

I should be makng up the lost day by writing extra long now, but I am already procrastinating this morning by writing this. The hairball is nowhere near out yet. This blog is the human equivalent of a cat-cough.

At the vide grenier sale

Cat at Musee d'art naif


About Suellen Grealy

In 2011, a series of coincidences led my husband Joel, our cat Ted and me away from London, where we lived quite happily for 30 years, to Nice, where Joel grew up. While he and his sister ran their restaurant, I wrote a novel. Family being family, Joel and his sister no longer work together. Writing being writing, the novel lingers on... Meanwhile, we've found ways of living a completely different life from the one we had in London, including running our own restaurant together, 7 Villermont. The only constants are our Ted, our now-battered Peugeot, and each other. Everything else is a complete surprise
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One Response to May 25: The Novel

  1. Lori says:

    Just keep coughing honey. I, for one, am looking forward to the hairball.

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