The Caitiff is the longest piece of writing I’ve ever attempted. Coming somewhere above the 110,000 words mark, it was my first attempt at a novel-length eBook. Unlike my previous, more experimental pieces of writing in the form of the Broken Polemic series, this does have something of a narrative though, even then, I wasn’t too bothered about it being the driving force behind the piece.
This took me around a year to complete; it would have been quicker if it hadn’t been for an internship and subsequent job which quickly started to take up a lot of my time. I approached this novel with the intention of writing maybe 50,000 words, but I found that I still had a lot to say with regards to this character and the setting.
What Is The Caitiff?
I decided it was time to test myself with a narrative that I had rolling around in my head for a while. The Caitiff was, essentially, an experiment in how normal events can be viewed as dystopian through certain eyes. I’ll admit that the character, Cedric Healy, is perhaps even more pessimistic than I am, but once again he is kind of a caricature of what I can feel myself turning into.
I was spending a lot of time in Manchester during this period, and I decided to set it there because the city is turning into everything that Healy is raging against. There were a lot of directions I could have taken this piece of writing, and I even toyed with the idea of making it something of a revolutionary, or even a redemption, story. However, I decided to remain honest to the characters, rather than what I might have preferred.
Once again, it can be fairly dense and difficult to get into, but that is the only way I could try to represent the complex, superior character who sees himself as the last of the Homo Sapiens, or one of the last, as the rest of the world moves into the Post-Human.
I guess I’d probably say there are some pieces of existentialism hidden in this book, somewhere. I was certainly reading a lot of it at the time.
The driving force behind this piece of work was a growing hatred of the money culture. I decided to personalise this through the Money-God, whom Healy believes everyone seems to worship. It was good to have a faceless, bodiless figure to rail against and, in parts, the city itself becomes a representation of the Money-God’s personality.
A lot of this was based on personal experience, though I did take some creative liberties when I felt like there was a particular point I needed to make. I liked the idea of being trapped in a life, or at least I liked the idea of addressing that idea, simply because I am pretty much trapped in a similar life and it seems like most people are.
Am I Happy With The Caitiff?
Overall, I’d say yes. I am happy with The Caitiff, though once again I’d probably try to lessen the difficult sentences and superior tone. Saying that, I didn’t want Healy to necessarily be a sympathetic character; I think he is in moments, but then some decisions he makes should be completely alien and obscure to most readers. Or, at least, I hope they are.
A lot of the lessons I learned from the Broken Polemic series came in useful here, particularly when it came time to talk about the Money-God.
I think, if I had to change anything about this eBook, it would be the cover. Although it is fairly effective, it doesn’t have the same raw DIY feel as Adjective Narcissism’s did. Even then, I am fairly happy with the finished product. There are a few scenes I wish I’d left in, and a couple I wished I’d cut (or at least cut down) but going back and changing the content seems fairly dishonest.
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