Tuesday, 31 July 2007
Sunday, 29 July 2007
Well, as you know I spent last weekend reading Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Continuing in the tradition of the last couple of HP books, I went away with some friends to focus on it completely.
The first time we did this was for Order of the Phoenix. We went down to Anglesea on the day the book came out and read like mad until we'd all finished. We spent a lengthy session on the Saturday night reading it aloud to each other, which was really companionable. (We also wrote 'Weasely is King' in the sand down at the beach . . .)
The second time was for Half-Blood Prince, and although we had a lovely weekend, the HP side of things fell a bit flat because we delayed a few weekends and people had already started or finished it!
This time we again went away on the day the book came out, and there was an air of delicious anticipation. In fact, I think we chatted and mucked about before actually sitting down to read -- all part of the build-up.
After reading the first four chapters to ourselves, we decided to try reading aloud again. And we kept going . . . and going . . . until those of us doing the reading were hoarse! By this time it was about midnight and we went to bed.
In the morning, more delicious anticipation as we wandered down the road for a disastrous breakfast, before returning to more HP7. And still we read aloud.
The fabulous thing about reading it aloud with friends is that we could stop and exclaim and postulate and discuss as we went. It got to the point where I no longer wanted to read it to myself, as I couldn't stop and discuss with people. The 6-book build up and media hype made the Deathly Hallows an experience to be shared. And even when half our party went home before the end, two of us persevered together, taking only an 80-page (or so) break to read silently and give our voices a rest. And even then, we stopped a chapter short of where we'd agreed, as things got far too exciting for the solo effort.
The experience was wonderful, and I thought the book lived up to the hype and had a thoroughly satisfying ending. And that's all I'm going to say here, because I've promised no spoilers. I am immensely glad to have taken the Harry Potter journey.
Saturday, 28 July 2007
One major idea came to me during my Thursday afternoon walk. It's nothing that will affect the plot, but it adds character depth and ties in with one of the plotlines so incredibly well that I'm excited.
I don't have ideas that often when I'm walking. I've tried it in the past as a vehicle of creativity, but my mind tends to go blank instead, which is why I've taken to listening to books or music. But on Thursday the creative juices were really flowing. Must have had something to do with the gorgeous coastal scenery. I think the whole revamped Act 1 came to me in some form or other. I think it's going to be so much stronger and tighter and better.
I can't wait now to get back into it!
Thursday, 26 July 2007
I could obsesses and stress about all these things forever. My current dilemma is whether or not my main character is heroic or not. She’s not. Not in this book at least. Others are, but not her. I ask myself over and over whether this matters.
But, I said, enough!
I am now telling myself I just have to go with my instinct. OK, so in the past, my instinct hasn’t been that great when it comes to plotting, but I have been working hard on this, and there comes a point when you just have to trust yourself. The story is written, for good or ill. I can strengthen motivation and conflict, build on character, backstory and setting, ensure certain events are foreshadowed and setup, weed out useless scenes, add new scenes, raise the stakes . . . but even after all that, the bones of story will remain what they are.
I just need to get on with it. I think, if not for this week away, I might have avoided the whole process for another few weeks, so it’s been providential to be here alone, with little else to do, with my computer staring at me, with the knowledge that next week it’s back to work and I need to identify NOW what I’m doing next Monday at 6:30am.
So, the next step is to read it through with a pen and highlighter, and to stop being such a head case!
Kitty Miller Bay is a small bay on the south coast of the island. On Tuesday it was deserted, save for a small family of three muddling about in the sand. I took a small track along the ‘cliff’ top to the next bay across, where stands the rusted wreck of the SS Speke, a barque that ran around here in 1906. The track ends here, but I battled bravely on along through the tufted grasses and pricklebushes and made my way down onto the sand. Before backtracking to examine the Speke, I kept going, not another soul in sight, and trekked across the base of the dunes into the next bay, across the silver stretch of sand to the base of Helens Head. The top revealed a wonderful view of the rugged island coast and Bass Strait.
Down on the beach below, a single set of footprints marked my progress along the beach.
There is something special about a deserted beach. Remarkably, it’s just a ‘hop-skip-jump’ away from the tourist-packed Summerland Bay, where the Little Penguins waddle in every dusk to much touristy fanfare. Obviously the locals know about this secluded stretch of coast, because their farms roll down right to the edge of the dunes. Lucky cattle! Lucky sheep!
I am still exploring the other parts of the island, but already I know that the south coast and the SS Speke will be a place I return to. The beach below the head will afford an amazing 360-degree view of the night sky, and next time there’s a comet or planet or meteor shower to see, I know where I’m going!
As an added bonus, the coastal landscape is remarkably similar to one of the settings in my novel, so as I contemplate my rewrite it’s handy to feel so inspired by said location!
Friday, 20 July 2007
Wednesday, 18 July 2007
Tuesday, 17 July 2007
I am really feeling it this winter. So very cold. A few people have postulated the theory that it's because I've lost my padding! Could this be true?
OK, so our coldest day in 9 years reached 9 degrees, then plunged to 5 degrees for most of the day -- and now there are many people in the far north of the world laughing, because they have to deal with -30 degrees C. But for Melbourne, it's freezing!
My heating has been going non-stop this evening. It came on at 6pm and it has still not reached the steady-state temp of 20 degrees. I wonder if it will?
Monday, 16 July 2007
Sunday, 15 July 2007
Well, I have a house full of it.
Nevertheless, I have purged this weekend and made some progress. I have fitted out my pantry with a mountain of Tupperware that has been stacked on my kitchen table for over a month. This necessitated some rearranging and liberation of other cupboards to make space for everything. So, after about six hours of solid rearranging, emptying, tossing, I can actually see the surface of my table . . . for now. And my pantry is looking somewhat spectacular.
I have also filed about six months worth of bills, bank statements, and general miscellany; tossed more clothes out of my wardrobe after trying on about 10 pairs of pants, most of which are now too big (propelling me into a suit crisis); plus pruned pruned pruned various bushes in the garden and weeeeeded until my back broke.
I feel better, but still kipple remains in the form of boxes of stuff to go to an op shop, plus things in my study I haven't gotten around to finding homes for yet. And thus it will most likely stay for another few weeks!
Saturday, 14 July 2007
A week or so ago I sent another polite letter requesting clarification on the following point: that since they had acknowledged the existance of the sign I sent them a photo of, how was it possible that there should also be a sign stating restrictions on Sunday. Could they tell me exactly where it is please?
So now they have sent me a very polite letter withdrawing the notice. Yippee! I win!
Friday, 13 July 2007
Wednesday, 11 July 2007
Monday, 9 July 2007
Not sure what to do now. Do I leave it to gestate for a few weeks? Do I maintain the good rhythm I've had for the past three weeks and immediately start the rewrite?
There are many many things I need to address. It's still very rough, particularly in the second half, where I was really trying hard not to get bogged down by 'perfection'. There are many ideas I need to seed, settings and characters to flesh out, narrative and dialogue to clean up etc etc.
Do I get up at 6:30 tomorrow morning?
BTW, this draft is just under 98,000 words long. Not sure if it will grow or stay the same during the rewrite. I expect it will grow, but that's OK. I was originally targeting 120,000 words. What I can say is that it won't be a rewrite from a blank sheet. That's what this was, more or less, which is why I'm calling it the 1st/2nd draft.
I think I'm going to leave it until my week off in a couple of weeks. Am going down to the island, and that will be a good opportunity to start reviewing the draft. All 228 A4 typed pages of it (mostly 11pt Times Roman, 1.5 space).
So now I guess I'm on holiday!!
Saturday, 7 July 2007
Thursday, 5 July 2007
Wednesday, 4 July 2007
I know that whatever I write now can and will be revised, but somehow I would like to finish with some oomph, something other than . . . "[work out how to end this later]". It will not seem real until I close off with something that at least feels right for now.
But how to finish? In desperation I have feverishly searched the pages of Ship of Magic, Book 1 of Robin Hobbs' Liveship Traders. She ends different story threads in different ways. Some characters are filled with new resolution, others end on a conflict, yet others confront new and promising possibilities. This has been helpful.
Yet still I sit and stare at the screen, wondering if the last few hundred words should be deleted, or at least repurposed (probably). Wondering whether it matters which POV character I finish with. Wondering just what will hit the spot with the reader.
We have all read wonderful books with crappy endings. The endings may be crappy because the wrong thing happens (in which case you just get cranky with the author), other times the end is crappy because there's not enough of it, or alternatively too much. I despise novels that end before I've done with the characters, before I'm satisfied that they've come out the other end of all the drama with a sense of resolution.
Whatever happens, I have made up my mind that it will be finished this week. Then the task will be to commence revisions, because it's not fit for anyone to read just yet. I am really looking forward to the revisions, because I have so many issues I want to address, characters to flesh out, settings to embellish, seeds to sow. Really exciting. Seriously thrilling.
Tuesday, 3 July 2007
Monday, 2 July 2007
- The Mordant’s Need duology by Stephen Donaldson
- The Lions of Al-Rassan by Guy Gavriel Kay
- The Ruins of Ambrai by Melanie Rawn
- The Kushiel’s Chosen trilogy by Jacqueline Carey
- The Liveship Traders trilogy by Robin Hobb
Reading these novels fills me with inspiration to create my own worlds, my own beloved characters, my own human journeys. I truly owe my love of writing fantasy to these amazing novels by amazing writers. If only I could write like any of these novelists . . .