Professional writer = good

19 12 2008

There are good things and bad things about having a professional writer as your spouse.

Good things:

  • You can go to them for feedback and usually the feedback is the right feedback
  • You can bounce ideas off them
  • They often have insights that enhance your original concept, taking it in an entirely unexpected direction or just making it better

Bad things:

  • Never available – paying work and deadlines ALWAYS take precedent

I experienced both the good and the bad over the past few days.

My wife’s been meaning to read my novel for the past few years and she’s made valiant stabs at beginning it but she has never quite got all the way through (or much past page 100). This is primarily because of work pressures. Obviously I’ve been understanding about this (I’d be a bit of a jerk otherwise) but Kirsty has been REALLY guilty about this. Almost, “Can you ever possibly forgive me?” type guilty, you know, the kind of guilt you experience after doing something really really bad. Now, I’m not entirely innocent, I suppose I have played it up to get the latest computer games (maybe I am a jerk?) but I totally understand why she hasn’t got around to reading or giving feedback to me. Paying work ALWAYS takes precedent.

Having started the 4th draft of the novel, I thought I’d take a novel (heh) technique to get her reading it. My plan: to drip feed her small bite sized sections of the story. It kinda worked.

First the bad: it took her three days to get around to reading 5 pages. But you know what, bite sized chunks work – she READ it! Yay, Kirst!

Then the good: she immediately found the flaw in what I had written and suggested a solution. I had this feeling that some of the motivations were slightly off, they were okay but there was an element of this could be much better going on. Her solution is elegant and simple and when I incorporated it it ended up taking up less words. Yay, brevity!

Kirst also helped with suggesting a name for another key plot point – actually it was more like we bounced ideas off each other, but still it worked! Yay, Kirst!


gorilla dancing

25 09 2008

As he often does, Joe Abercrombie has provided an invaluable insight into the process of writing. What makes this even more exciting for me is he’s describing the exact process I am going through right now and DOUBLY exciting is the fact that for the most part my process is the same as him. I feel like doing a little gorilla dance over that fact.

Yeah yeah I know, you really want to picture me dancing like a gorilla – if you only knew that I DO dance like a gorilla (and an elephant and a tiger and a chicken and a … you get the idea) at least twice a week in my day job as a Children’s Librarian. At first you get all self conscious about it, after all it’s not just the under 5 set watching you but their parents, guardians, grandparents and general members of the public, but then you just blot them out and focus on the kids. And I tell you what, there’s nothing as awesome as going into a kindy and having 40 little people calling your name and hanging on your every word and action. It’s like I’m the Wiggles or something. Anyway, I digress.

Why would I be dancing in the first place? It confirms that what I’m doing is the right thing, AND it’s coming from a successful writer. That’s always a good feeling.  

A bit scary however is his assertion that at 235,000 words his novel is too big. As it currently stands my novel is over 260,000 words. Ouch. I’m determined to send it out in this format and see what reaction it gets but I have a feeling I might need to ultimately reshape it by splitting it in two. Ah well, I’ll deal with that later.

editing = double plus good

23 09 2008

I’m slowly starting to enjoy the process of reviewing and editing my novel. At first it seemed a struggle, I was of the attitude that “It’s done! I don’t have to do any more to it” and I was literally forcing myself to read it. Then I realised that that’s not a good thing. If I have to force myself to read it then how can I expect a reader to read it? So I changed my attitude and its working. For the past few days I’ve been enjoying my novel both as a writer and as a reader.

I think the break that I took from it helped. I tried to write other things in the meantime but none of them really drove and inspired me like my novel did.

The break also helped me realise that I need to “kill my babies”. If I’d begun my revisions immediately following the completion of the latest draft I probably would have let some sections slide but now with distance I realise that I can slice out that beautiful observation on a character’s past. I know it but it doesn’t really add much to THIS story.

So yeah editing = double plus good