To celebrate the launch of her new novel, Somewhere in the Picture, Patrice Chaplin reflects on the writing process and the strange, special lives that books have – both with and without their authors:
A book has its own life. The writer tells its story.
The writer even thinks he or she owns the story but where does it really come from?
The journey of the book begins with expectation, doubt, aspiration, adventure. It becomes “The Creation”. The pregnancy and finally the birth and then it’s over. Then it goes there out into the world and the writer is separated, as this new creation finds its feet like a child starting school.
And it is liked, applauded or rejected, copied, passed from hand to hand, recommended or otherwise. Some aspects of the book thrill the reader and changes lives. And the writer steps forward proud, trying for an attractive modesty. And tells the book’s story.
And then the book is returned to the shelves and waits to be picked up, and it’s out of fashion and the pages yellowing, the covers a little discoloured with damp, dying on some collector’s shelf or slung in a charity shop, or as a door stopper depending on its remaining strength.
And then a new generation produces an inquisitive reader who finds some long-forgotten review, or even the ragged item itself. And the pages are turned and the story rediscovered and its covers are changed.
The inquisitive reader loves it and its back in fashion, alive again, its writer long passed on.