Wednesday, May 26, 2010

This road I'm travelling ...

I glanced at the calendar this morning and was more than a little shocked to see it’s nearly June. Where on earth does the time go??

Anyway, with the year nearly half done I decided to take stock of where I’m at with my revisions, and how I’m traveling on my writing journey.

Here’s a little of what I learned:

That I can kill my darlings. At the last count I’ve rubbed out five characters (well, one I’ve kept, but only for one scene), and many scenes have either been excised altogether or cut down in length, some down from pages and pages to just a few paragraphs. Who’d have thought I was such a cold-blooded killer? :-)

That there are several scenes I was sure I’d written, and it turns out I didn’t. They exist only in my mind and in a few, short, scrappy notes. Damn.

That I should listen to my gut. The niggling feeling that something is wrong usually means something is, even when I can’t pinpoint it.

That next book, I will PLOT like a madwoman before I write, to avoid the extensive, time-consuming rewrites of the first half of my story that I’m doing now, because I didn’t do exactly that in the first place … then write in the knowledge I’ll still end up deviating from my nicely sorted plot. But at least my first draft may stand a chance of looking like a book from the start, instead of the bunch of loosely connected scenes I’m working on now. Grumble.

That most days I still feel like I’m flying by the seat of my pants. But slowly, surely, and to my great relief, the abovementioned bunch of loosely connected scenes are solidifying into something that resembles a proper book. Phew!

That I really do need to print out my manuscript once I’m done with this first go-over. I need to see - and feel - the beast in its entirety to get a good handle on the work that is still to be done.

That I still have days when writing is like trying to cut bread with a marble. And I always will.

That despite all its flaws - and even after four years of writing it - I still love my story.

That I need to flesh out my MC’s love interest. “Cardboard cut out man”, is how I refer to him, in the early scenes of my book at least. He gets better as the book goes on, though, so that’s something.

That I will always, always, adore Paris. I will get there some day, even if it’s only to have my ashes scattered on the Seine!

That not writing on the weekends is a good thing. I haven’t done so for a few months now, mainly due to not having the time, what with all the kids’ sporting commitments and general busyness, and because weekends are about the only time my husband and I get to see each other in daylight hours. And I’ve found that having a life means I fill my creative well, and I then have something to bring to my writing. Pretty cool deal, and a routine I aim to stick to (unless I’m on a deadline and my editor is emailing me every day begging me to finish the last chapters of my book so it can be sent off for its 50,000 copy print run … hey, a girl can dream!)

That making this book as shiny and bright as it can possibly be will take as long as it takes. Heck, it took six years of full time study for me to finish my law and arts degrees; I expect my writing apprenticeship will take just as long, if not longer …

So - what are the most important things you’ve learned on your own writing journey?


  1. Scenes you think you've written... Bwahahaha. OMG, I've done this TOO many times. I'll sit down and be like, now, when the hero comes into the...hey, WTF? Where is my scene? Yeah, it's in my head. :-P

    As for what have I learned?

    The biggest one for me is to let things go. My book isn't only a product of me. I am the architect but the house is built by many. So, I've learned to put my stuff out there, and not sweat the little things.

    And that as much as writing is an art, and you the creative artist, it is a trade. Somedays, you are going to have to rely on plain old workman-like crafting skills. Just plod through, fix the problems, get her done. If that makes any sense.

  2. It's seems beautiful picture.I enjoyed it.

  3. Great post Rachel. I've been meaning to do a post in reply... Perhaps later on this week...