The Year of the Whale

Screen Shot 2014-05-24 at 15.53.44

Last night, with slightly more than an hour to go before the deadline of the MMU Novella Competition, I finally finished my novella The Year of the Whale. The image above is a randomised cloud of the most common words in the manuscript, which is a really satisfying way to look back on what I’ve made.

I started writing it in 2009, and it has spent entire years untouched, waiting for attention in the dusty recesses of my hard drive. It’s written in first person with a very particular voice, and it’s been strange to return to it so sporadically over the years, and take up the mantle of that voice again. I’ve wanted to finish it for a long time – it was one of my New Year’s resolutions, no less – and I’m thankful to the competition for giving me the spark to get it done. I don’t expect anything to come of it – that way madness lies – but I’m thrilled to have wrapped it up last.

The Year of the Whale is the story of a man called Henry Cowx. He is a fisherman and walking guide in Morecambe Bay, riddled with arthritis and wracked with guilt. His story explores that guilt, and gives some quiet thought to what it means to remember. It’s about walking and place and ghosts and folk tales, and our connections with the land. It’s at the heart of my obsession with threshold spaces. It’s a meditative, elegiac story, and a long way from where I’d like to develop my work – but Henry has never been far from my mind, and I’m glad to give him closure at last.

I discussed some of the genesis of the story in my Thievery post for Kirsty Logan.

I’m working my way through some film jobs at the moment, but it’s almost time to get back into The Hollows.

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5 comments

  1. Pingback: Flow | Simon Sylvester
  2. somewhere nowhere

    An inspiration Simon, for setting out on a task, and bringing that old material to life, and reminding us how good it feels to do that, and the sense of ease when there is completion. Thank you and good luck in the competition!

    • simonsylvester

      Thanks so much, Harriet – I’m already wishing I’d had another week for redrafts! Good to wrap up an unfinished job. Hopefully catch up soon.

  3. Pingback: The slow life | Simon Sylvester
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