More romance – make that Romance – this week, in the form of the opening of my first novel, The Ragged Believers (DreamCatcher Publishing 2003), which is about holding on – to a threatened way of life, to forlorn love, to lost love, and above all, to belief.
The opening paragraph is another example – one of the very few – of something I ‘just wrote’, as opposed to my usual process of wrenching stuff word by word from my floundering brain, then deleting it in disgust at its pathetic inadequacy and starting all over again. After struggling for weeks to come up with an opening, I woke one night and wrote this and hardly changed a word. It’s always been one of my favourite passages.
On sunny afternoons in summer the girls in their white dresses lay on the rocks by the sea, as vacuous and unglamorous as the gulls wheeling above them, as serene and languorous as the seals on the further rocks. They talked of the men they had transported the night before, and joked, not unkindly, of their clients’ foibles and confessions, their weaknesses and frantic lusts. Often I joined them, and they discussed my forlorn love for their colleague, Jenny, the prostitute who befriended me and lived with me, but denied me her love. They gossiped and drowsed the afternoons away, like sirens on the rocks, luring not sailors from the sea, but travellers from the dusty highway across the meadow and beyond the Seashore Boarding House.