David Mitchell's Insight: "Wrong versions become the scaffolding that you use to build the novel."
What did the writer David Mitchell mean in stating, "Wrong versions become the scaffolding that you use to build the novel"? He explains in an NYT interview, "A Master of Many Universes" (August 24, 2014), written up by Alessandra Stanley, who gets Mitchell to talking about his most recent novel, The Bone Clocks, apparently an intricately structured work about the life of the main character, Holly Sykes:
When he began writing the novel four years ago, Mr. Mitchell envisioned an even more intricate structure. He tried to write it as 70 short stories that each took place in a single year of Holly's life, from 1969 to 2039. After writing 13 of the stories, he got stuck.Mitchell then concludes:
"It's one of those ideas that sounds good, but when you start writing it, you hit the problem: 'Ah, that's why no one has done this before,'" Mr. Mitchell said. But when he started over, he had much of the novel mapped out.
"Wrong versions become the scaffolding that you use to build the novel."An insight for writers to remember. And the book sounds good, too, if you like what you read in the following plot-spoiling paragraph:
"The Bone Clocks" opens in 1984 England, where a rebellious teenager, Holly Sykes, runs away from home and unwittingly gets caught up in an occult war that has been raging for centuries. In classic Mitchell fashion, the narrative transgresses time, space and genre, jumping from 1980s England to contemporary Iraq, the medieval Swiss Alps, the 19th-century Australian outback, a Manhattan townhouse that serves as a metaphysical portal, and finally to an Irish village in 2043, where an elderly Holly struggles to protect her grandchildren after an environmental catastrophe. As the story progresses, Holly learns that she has been a pawn in a battle between two rival camps of immortals, the Horologists, who reincarnate by taking on new bodies, and the Anchorites, who stay eternally young by preying on the living.Not everybody's cup of tea, I reckon, but it sounds good for me, and I'd bet that starting in 1984 is some sort of fictional nod to Orwell.