NaNoWriMo Inspiration: (Day 6) Why It Doesn't Matter What You Write

Have you read A Girl Is A Half-Formed Thing by Eimear McBride? You may have heard of it. It's the novel which won the Baileys Women's Prize for Fiction and it has received much attention for a number of other reasons.

One of those reasons was that the book was consistently rejected by publishers over many years, and another reason is the way it is written.

Now, I have not read the book, but I have read several reviews and each one has contributed to something of the very confused state I am in about whether or not I should read the book.

The reason I do and don't want to read it is the same thing. Because of the way it is written.

"Abstract" would apparently be a good way of describing it. "Experimental" has been the over-used term.  And I've also seen the words "stream of consciousness" and "radically disoriented" pop up in reviews.

Comparisons have been made with the work of James Joyce and Virginia Woolf and while I have not yet attempted Ulysses or other works by Mr Joyce, I have made several attempts to enjoy Ms Woolf and gee whizz if I didn't give up on Mrs Dalloway about a third of the way in and with a headache for company.

In this review specifcially a number of phrases are referred to which immediately draw me closer to the book; "And I loved swimming to your touch", "Poke belly of baby that’s kicking is me" and the poetic "Nail me right inside the blackness" which is stolen as the review's title. But then I turned to Goodreads and found the following statements lining the poor book's page...

"At a certain point, this book became more about trying to PUNISH me for reading it than anything else...." (2 stars)

"I appreciate the stylistic theory behind her tortured style, but I also couldn’t help but wish that these linguistic shenanigans would get out of the way once in a while and let this plaintive story come through unimpeded." (2 stars)

"...a novel I would recommend to only the most adventurous and dedicated readers. Finishing it felt like the literary equivalent of running a marathon, and I was mostly glad to be done just so I could say I was--and move onto a novel I enjoyed more, even if it's not as accomplished or inventive." (3 stars)

I'll stop copying and pasting to bring us back to the matter in hand; NaNoWriMo.

What does an award winning experimental (see, I'm just as bad as the rest of them) have to do with your NaNoWriMo challenge? 

A number of things. I think I'm going to use bullet points.

  • A Girl Is A Half-Formed Thing proves that you can write whatever you want. That's what McBride did and she won an award.
  • A Girl Is A Half-Formed Thing proves that you can write whatever you want, however you want. You don't even need to write full sentences.
  • A Girl Is A Half-Formed Thing proves that you can write whatever you want, however you want and some people will love it and some people will hate it.
  • A Girl Is A Half-Formed Thing proves that you can write whatever you want, however you want and not abide by a single grammar rule or even write full sentences.
  • A Girl Is A Half-Formed Thing proves that you can write whatever you want, however you want right now. Remember you don't need permission.
  • A Girl Is A Half-Formed Thing proves that you can write whatever you want, however you want right now, because if you think that McBride didn't edit her disjointed prose for months, if not years, you are very much mistaken.
  • A Girl Is A Half-Formed Thing proves that you can write whatever you want, however you want because you need that first draft to exist before you turn it into an award winning, love-hate book.
  • A Girl Is A Half-Formed Thing proves that you can write whatever you want, however you want, then edit it for years and believe in it so firmly that you will survive rejection after rejection after rejection to see it into a reader's hands.
  • A Girl Is A Half-Formed Thing proves that you can write whatever you want, however you want, because nobody else can write the words that you have to write no matter how weird, strange or higgledy-piggledy a way you choose to put them together.

So get to it...

Bookmark this page for NaNoWriMo Daily Inspiration Posts, every day in November 2014.

Frances M. Thompson

Londoner turned wanderer, Frankie is an author, freelance writer and blogger. Currently based in Amsterdam, Frankie was nomadic for two years before starting a family with her Australian partner. Frankie is the author of three short story collections, and is a freelance writer for travel and creative brands. In 2017, she launched WriteNOW Cards, affirmation cards for writers that help build a productive and positive writing practice. When not writing contemporary fiction, Frankie shops for vintage clothes, dances to 70s disco music and chases her two young sons around Amsterdam.
Find Frankie on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and Google+.

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