Happy new year everyone. I hope you had a safe and wonderful time. My family and I went on a cruise – through the Pacific and we had a blast. This was my first cruise and I wasn’t sure what to expect but it was great fun. Other than some sea sickness on the first day – even the crew complained it was the worst they had seen it- I rode the waves quite well. It was relaxing, the kids had fun doing their own thing and we came back refreshed and ready for another school and university year.
What else has been happening? I had pain bad enough to go to the ER just before Christmas and they found a gall stone and thickening and inflammation of the gallbladder and said that puppy has to come out. I was having some terrible stomach issues that were mysterious and annoying and that gave me an answer but I also found out I have a gluten intolerance and so I researched some recipes, found some good cook books and have been experimenting with different kinds of grains. I even made my own bread and cookies. I’m feeling much better and all the symptoms of the gallbladder have gone. More research is needed but I am seeing the surgeon later this month. I’m sleeping better with out the wheat, bloating has gone, and some skin irritations are gone as well. Interesting.
I hope you are all well and forging on through the new year.
trumpeted announced, I finished the first draft of my latest attempt at writing. Now comes the editing process which can often take longer than the actual writing. I think, no, I know, that the editing of my last novel was what led to it being cut from the publisher. I just couldn’t get the rewrites to work in a timely and successful manner. Let’s not dwell on that. Instead my goal is to learn to edit affectively. Many of you have wonderful posts in your blogs about just that thing. I will spend the next few days riffling through your entries, opening old draws and looking in your cupboards for those illuminating ideas. Please feel free to give me links.
I will be using Robins words. I will be doing a lot of chopping. There may be tears. There will be lots of coffee. I will be seeking enthusiasm and reminders to keep editing. Then do it all over again.
After some thought, I think these are important editing tips.
- Let the novel stew for a period of time. Coming back with time between yourself and the pages gives a new perspective.
- Look for repetition and redundancies, particularly important in long pieces.
- Look for unnecessary words.
- Be aware of showing, not telling.
- Is the point of view and the tense right for the story?
What do you think is your top editing piece of advice? Is editing an exciting time for you or a chore?
Is there research in your novel? Are you lost in an endless loop of finding facts, verifying facts, having too many facts, lost facts and ….
Needless to say I was stuck. I was so caught up in the research that I lost sight of the writing. I love me a bit of research. I’m a history buff and soak up the history channel like a sermon on the mount. My novel has a back and forth aspect that moves from the present back to the 17th C in journal form, so there was a lot of lovely research to get my hooks in. I haven’t, to the best of my knowledge, lived in the 17th century and couldn’t find anyone who had. I was reliant on books, diaries, cookbooks, gardening books, fascinating books of the period. I am fortunate to live in the capital city of my country and have the National Library at my disposal and the lovely librarians are ever eager to find any kind of paper I might need, be it in their own database or anywhere around the world. Like me, that get very excited at the idea of finding that mysterious recipe from 1611 for cough drops. They were giddy at finding prints depicting the livery of the time, or what indeed was considered authentic undergarments. There was hyperventilating when I asked for information about pamphlets advertising London coffee houses of the time.
I had masses of information, nicely categorised in shiny plastic pockets, cross referenced and ready to go. But then I didn’t stop. I began researching things not at all related to my story, simply because they were interesting, and may have provided another plot line. I began going over things I already knew. I gathered other opinions until historical documents were dancing around in my dreams, and still I wasn’t writing.I was caught in a research round-a-bout.
I needed an intervention.
One of my favourite authors, Kate Morton, writes in a different era and her research is impeccable. I wanted mine to be authentic and correct, just like hers. Fortunately I read her blog and she gave me a bit of a nudge, reminding me that getting too caught up in the finer details can take my piece of fiction into the non fiction genre very quickly.
But how was I going to take the enormous amount of research and use it? Honestly I used maybe 25% of it. I don’t consider the other 75% to be a waste of time. I felt it gave me a sense of the period, the language, the style and personalities that seeped into the writing. While I may not have used my copious knowledge of undergarments, I knew it and I feel some of that confidence of the era came through.
Have you ever read a review of a debut novelist and blanched a little when you read they are in their 20′s or even 30′s? I have, I admit, and not because they are young; I am genuinely happy for anyone who can write a book and have others read it. It’s because I’m no longer in my 20′s and 30′s and envy that span of writing time. Another ten, twenty years to write. Yes, that’s on my christmas list this year. Then I am reminded of all the novelists who started out late in the evening.
One of those was Bryce Courtenay, who began his career in writing at the age of 50. Courtenay, who died of stomach cancer in his Canberra home last week, was working a 9 – 5 job when he decided to quit and concentrate on writing. He went on to write 2o novels and sell millions, have them made into movies and brought a lot of joy to readers. He was a lovely man and a generous one to local writers.
Bryce isn’t alone in starting out late in the evening. Laura Inglles Wilder published her first book in her seventies. Frank McCourt published Angela’s Ashes at 66, going on to win the Pulitzer. That’s not a bad effort. Raymond Chandler was 45 when first getting to print. There are loads more of course.
There’s no good time to start writing. No better time than now.
Phew. I did it. I ploughed thought doubts and typos to finish my manuscript. It’s not ready to be sent off to the illusive agent, but it has a beginning, middle and end and that’s more than it had a few months ago
I took some things out of my life to find that precious time to work on it – this blog was one of them, vacuuming was another- and I spent a weekend at a local hotel ( thanks husband) so that I had no distractions. I wrote and drank copious amounts of coffee. I found out baths are fantastic for thinking, when the door isn’t being pounded with one kid or another asking where the milk is. Seriously, after all these years, they still ask that. I slept in an enormous bed, all by myself, with my paraphernalia around me and woke up at odd hours to type frantically. I ate buffet breakfasts, sneaking plates back to my room to snack on. I looked out the window a lot too. I watched people walk from car to reception via the courtyard I overlooked and I listened to very noisy reporters coming in to sleep at 3am after covering the royal visit. Blast my timing. Having said that, I highly recommend a weekend away in your own town. Thank you Diamant Hotel in Canberra for taking care of me. Thank you husband for delivering dinner and enthusiasm.
Now I’m editing- that horrendous process that should be listed as an illness with a pill to cure it. Where’s my aspirin?
Anyway, it’s lovely to see you all again. I hope everyone in blog land is well, rested, happy and writing.
We’ve heard a great deal of fuss in the media this week about the hard time our athletes are having. Interview after internee has one athlete or another looking down the camera and saying “It’s been a really hard week, I haven’t done as well as I wanted.”
Excuse me athletes, but you are not having a bad week. Your in London on your countries tax dollars. You earn your living doing something you love. Many of you are paid millions for your sport or in sponsorship. You are not having a bad week.
If you were diagnosed with cancer, you’re having a bad week. If you’re a new mum, up all night with your newborn, you’ve had a hard week. If you care for a disabled child, you’re having a bad week. If you are struggling to work and pay your bills, you’re having a bad week. If you are a low paid teacher or nurse who work for your community, you’re having a hard week. If you have MS, you’re having a hard week.
James Magnusson, Stephanie Rice and co….you are not having a bad week. It’s a sport and I can assure you that the majority of your fellow Australians who are getting up for work this morning don’t care about your performance. We care about the millions of dollars it took to get you there and how that money could have been spent more sensibly.
Isn’t it time, in this world were we have so much more going on, that we stop idealising people who can run, jump and swim and start supporting the people who are doing things that matter. Scientists, teachers, doctors and nurses deserve our sponsorship and our support.
As we go into August and the camp out is rolling into town, I’m planning to put my fingers to go use and knock out those 50,000 words.
Fingers crossed…..not when I’m typing though, that can be dangerous.
To anyone else doing camp NaNoWiMo, good luck.