The Naïve and the Sentimentalist Novelist by Orhan Pamuk

I must confess… I did it again. I started reading a book in one language and finished it in another one with lots of swapping between the two along the way. I did it with George Elliot’s The Mill on the Floss as with Paulo Coelho’s Aleph. But this time, it’s Orhan Pamuk’s The Naïve and The Sentimentalist Novelist.

Orhan Pamuk

The problem is I’m not that comfortable with writing terminology in Turkish. All the books I read about writing so far are in English. I can safely say that I may have filled the gap a little by reading The Naïve and The Sentimentalist Novelist. And when I look back, I notice that I actually took more notes in Turkish than in English.

The book is a selection of Orhan Pamuk’s talks he delivered at Harvard as part of the Norton Lecture series and it’s about understanding what happens when we write and read novels—as it says on the cover. However, The Naïve and the Sentimentalist Novelist reveals a number of secrets of novel writing. And, that on its own is a total gem.

Before I get to the part of my highlights from the book—although it’s a bit tricky with this one as I have some highlights in Turkish and some in English—I have a list of books, plays and essays mentioned in the book.

Arabian Nights (Thousand and One Nights)
Old Masters by Thomas Bernard
The Red and The Black by Stendhal
Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe
The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera
Ulysses by James Joyce
Swann in Love by Marcel Proust
The Raven by Edgar Allen Poe
Nana by Emile Zola
The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov
Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
The Golden Bowl by Henry James
Confessions by Jean-Jacque Rousseau
Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka
Les Misérables by Victor Hugo
Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert
Sentimental Education by Gustave Flaubert
Moby Dick by Herman Melville
The Blind Owl by Sadegh Hedayat
Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie
The Miser by Molière
The Miraculous Years by Joseph Frank
Aspects of the Novel by E. M. Forster
Life: A User’s Manual by Georges Perec
Sentimental Journey by Laurence Sterne
The Novel as a Spectacle (essay from The Uses of Literature) by Italo Calvino
If on a Winter’s Night a Traveller by Italo Calvino
Shahnameh by Ferdowsi
The Son of a Servant by August Strindberg
Sylvie by Gérard de Nerval
The Theory of the Novel by György Lukács
Three Trapped Tigers by Cabrera Infante
Tristram Shandy by Laurence Sterne
Naomi by Junichito Tanizaki
The Time Regulation Institute by Ahmet Hamdi Tanpinar

Books by Dostoyevsky:
Brothers Karamazov

Books by Lev Tolstoy:
Anna Karenina
War and Peace

Books by Charles Dickens:
Oliver Twist
David Copperfield

Books by Virginia Woolf:
The Waves
Mrs. Dalloway

Books by William Faulkner:
Old Man
The Sound and The Fury
The White Palms
As I Lay Dying

Books by Thomas Mann:
The Magic Mountain
Buddenbrooks

And my highlights from the book:
I would like to reveal to you two of my beliefs, which are firm and strong, as well as contradictory. But first allow me to set the context. In 2008, I published in Turkey a novel entitled The Museum of Innocence. This novel is concerned with (among other things) the actions and feelings of a man called Kemal, who is deeply and obsessively in love. It wasn’t long before I began receiving the following question from a number of readers, who apparently thought that his love was described in a highly realistic manner: “Mr. Pamuk, did all this actually happen to you? Mr. Pamuk, are you Kemal?”
So now let me give you my two contradictory answers, both of which I believe sincerely:
1. “No, I am not my hero Kemal.”
2. “But it would be impossible for me to ever convince readers of my novel that I am not Kemal.”

I wouldn’t want these words to suggest that I hope such agreement will be reached. On the contrary, the art of the novel draws its power from the absence of a perfect consensus between writer and reader on the understanding of fiction. Readers and authors acknowledge and agree on the fact that novels are neither completely imaginary nor completely factual.

Wondering about which parts are based on real-life experience and which parts are imagined is but one of the pleasures we find in reading a novel.

To read a novel is to wonder constantly, even at moments when we lose ourselves most deeply in the book: How much of this is fantasy, and how much is real?

At the heart of the novelist’s craft lies an optimism which thinks that the knowledge we gather from our everyday experience, if given proper form, can become valuable knowledge about reality.

Eventually, we come to love certain novels because we have expended so much imaginative labour on them. This is why we hang on to those novels, whose pages are creased and dog-eared.

In order to find meaning and readerly pleasure in the universe the writer reveals to us, we feel we must search for the novel’s secret centre, and we therefore try to embed every detail of the novel in our memory, as if learning each leaf of a tree by heart.

…the task of writing a novel is to imagine a world–a world that first exists as a picture before it eventually takes the form of words. Only later do we express through words the picture we imagine, so that readers can share this product of the imagination.

To derive pleasure from a novel is to enjoy the act of departing from words and transforming these things into images in our mind.

Büyük İnsanlık Kendi Sesinden Şiirler by Nazım Hikmet

I have recently read/listened Nazım Hikmet’s Büyük İnsanlık Kendi Sesinden Şiirler which lead me to write this post.

It’s a poetry book of Nazım Hikmet in Turkish and it comes with a CD. I remember buying it from Turkey during one of my trips.

Nazım Hikmet

There is an interesting story behind the book and its recording. Since you cannot get the book in English, I thought I would write about it for English speaking Nazım Hikmet fans out there. Kathryn Stripling Byer in particular who was one of the judges of Nazim Hikmet Poetry Festival in North Carolina.

The CD contains real recording of Nazım’s voice, reading out his own poems. There are two poems in the recording which are new to Nazım’s fans one way or another. One of them has never been published before, neither in Turkish nor in Russian. The other one was published in Russian but not in Turkish.

The Story of the Tape Recording
Nazım Hikmet and Bedri Rahmi Eyüboğlu (another famous Turkish poet) got together in Paris, perhaps in 1961 to record Nazim’s voice, reading out his own poems. At the time, everything about Nazım Hikmet was banned. As a precaution, Eyüboğlu starts reading one of his own poems, Mor (Purple) in the beginning to make it sound like it’s him all the way through, not Nazım Hikmet.

The book and the CD contain fifty-eight poems by Nazım Hikmet. I must admit, his voice is nothing like I expected to a degree that I’m now struggling to match his face to his voice.

Hiding the Recording
Bedri Rahmi Eyüboğlu constantly changed the hiding place of the recording in his home as the place was raided and searched by the police regularly. Eventually, after Bedri Rahmi Eyüboğlu’s death, Mehmet Eyüboğlu (his son) and Hughette Eyüboğlu (daughter-in-law) inherited the reel. However, it was after Mehmet Eyüboğlu’s death, his wife decided that it was time for the recording to be published.

Because the recording was always well hidden, when Hughette Eyüboğlu finally decided that it was time to hand it over to Eyüboğlu’s publisher (İş Bankası Kültür Yayınları), it took her a week to locate it within the house. She was also looking for something else: Nazım’s portrait done by his mother, Cemile. Nazım had given it to Badri Rahmi Eyüboğlu years ago (see photo below). Now, it’s in the inner cover of this book, protecting the CD.

Nazım Hikmet

Copyright Issues
After the famous ‘Nazım Hikmet’ ban was lifted, all of his poetry was published by Yapı Kredi Yayınları. On the other hand, Bedri Rahmi Eyüboğlu’s publisher was İş Bankası Kültür Yayınları. Since there are poems in the book which have been published before, you would expect some copyright issues here, wouldn’t you? However, through a unique collaboration between the heirs and the publishers, it wasn’t a problem. Everyone seemed to have focused on getting the book out unconditionally. And for that reason, the book has two publishers.

Nazım Hikmet may not have been able to return to Turkey or even burried there but because of this unique book/CD, at least his voice returned to his beloved country. It just took some fifty years, that’s all.

After NaNoWriMo 2016 (National Novel Writing Month)

NaNoWriMo 2016

On November 30, I typed in ‘The End’ and finished my new novel; Bonded in Heaven as part of NaNoWriMo 2016. We celebrated with a bottle of vintage Morton.

This year, I wasn’t well prepared—just a very big research on each character and their countries, that’s all. And yet, I managed to write 60,433 words in 30 days. Well, two of those words are ‘the end’ of course and you might like to subtract them from the total word count. But if you do, I name one of my nasty characters in my next book and kill you!

Last year, I hit 50,000 words benchmark pretty much around the same time as I did this year but the story wasn’t finished. I stopped writing. I thought I would go back and finish the manuscript during January. I didn’t. Once I was out of dangerous waters and swam to safety, I simply wanted to stay there. On top of that, I had no idea about tying up the lose ends and conclude the story. The idea of the right series of events to match the ending I had planned came to me very recently. It’s scribbled on a tiny piece of paper, waiting to be inserted into the novel now. I promised myself not to make the same mistake with my second book. So, I now have a finished shitty first draft.

Even though I wasn’t at all prepared for this year’s NaNoWriMo, I had cleared my schedule properly; I cancelled my singing lessons, didn’t go out much, didn’t even shave (much), got groceries and everything else (sometimes even meals) delivered, Olly didn’t get a bath and remained in his ‘skunk’ state till the end of NaNoWriMo 2016.

The topic of Bonded in heaven was an incredibly difficult one to write. It is the kind that makes my blood boil, shreds my insides and turn them out to expose to the outside world. On top of that, I killed six ‘darlings’ in my novel while I was carrying their load all the way through November. I lived with those imaginary people who became very real for me in the end. Actually, each one is based on a true story. It was pretty hard going, Peoples.

NaNoWriMo 2016

Now that I finished my shitty first draft, I can shelve the manuscript for at least 6 weeks before I go back and edit and rewrite (you know how it works). In the meantime, I need to shave, give Olly a bath, clean the house, book a hair appointment, mail Xmas cards and put the tree up or even order my NaNoWriMo winner t-shirt. While I’m doing all of that, I will also be visiting my last year’s manuscript and finally finish it. Promise.

Book Review: Outlining Your Novel by K. M. Weiland

book review outlining novel K. M. WeilandBook Review: Outlining Your Novel by K. M. Weiland

Outlining Your Novel: Map Your Way to Success by K. M. Weiland entered my life at the right time and in the right way. The right time part is all about learning to write in an orderly fashion before I make a mess. It happens, you know, especially if you are new in this writing business. And I am new! The right way part? This is really cool: I won the book! Along with Katie’s Structuring Your Novel book. Give-aways usually don’t cover Australia but I was lucky this time. My booksarrived, smelling like strawberries and they were both signed. Jealous?

Book Review Outlining Novel K. M. Weiland

I was convinced that I would be an outliner even before I read Outlining Your Novel. It suits my personality; I am Virgo and I thrive in orderly environments. However, if I needed any further convincing or just plain reassurance, Outlining Your Novel did that, too.

Outlining Your Novel: Map Your Way to Success covers:

• Benefits and misconceptions about outlining
• Choosing the right type of outline for you
• Different outlining tools
• Brainstorming ideas
• Creating and developing characters
• Organising your scenes
• Discover backstory of your characters
• Key story factors like motive, desire, goal, conflict and theme
• Character interviews
• Discovering the setting
• How to format your finished outline
• How to put your outline to use

Outlining Your Novel also includes exclusive interviews with authors like: Becky Levine, Larry Brooks, Elizabeth Spann Craig, Roz Morris, John Robinson, Jody Hedlund, Aggie Villanueva, Lisa Grace, Carolyn Kaufman and Dan L. Hays and you can the interviews at the end of each chapter. The authors answer these important questions:
• Can you describe your outlining process?
• What is the greatest benefit of outlining?
• What is the biggest potential pitfall of outlining?
• Do you recommend “pantsing” for certain situations and outlining for others?
• What’s the most important contributing factor to a successful outline?

Please note that Outlining Your Novel has a workbook (see photo below) which can be bought separately. Book Review Outlining Novel K. M. Weiland

About the Author

K. M. Weiland lives in make-believe worlds, talks to imaginary friends, and survives primarily on chocolate truffles and espresso. She is the IPPY and NIEA Award-winning and internationally published author of the Amazon bestsellers Outlining Your Novel and Structuring Your Novel, as well as Jane Eyre: The Writer’s Digest Annotated Classic, the western A Man Called Outlaw, the medieval epic Behold the Dawn, the portal fantasy Dreamlander, and the historical/dieselpunk adventure Storming. When she’s not making things up, she’s busy mentoring other authors on her award-winning blog HelpingWritersBecomeAuthors.com. She makes her home in western Nebraska.