Words, words, words (With bonus Angela Slatter Interview)

Before I begin, let me direct you to this: Marshal Payne’s Super-Sekrit Clubhouse has a new interview with my Write Club peep Angela Slatter, which should give you a pretty good insight into why I usually use words like “awesome” and “inimitable” when discussing both her and her writing.

Angela remains one of those folks who fuses talent, hardworking dilligance and bucket-loads of smarts in her approach to writing (although she’ll refute the latter with Simpson’s referenes, giving half a chance). She speaks wisdom and her writing is good – so go read about her now, while she’s still an ’emerging writer’, and then  you can join me in the nodding and looking smug when people start talking about how this awesome new ’emerged’ writer in the years to come.

And if you don’t, well, I’ll mock you -with a very mocking mock – because that’s the kind of guy I am.

Okay, back to the entry. Or, to put it another way, a Cold Cases update

It appears that if you past your writing progress in the forms of Lord of the Rings references they become a lot more palatable in this newfangled world of social interactivity, so allow me to adapt from one of yesterday’s twitters/facebook updates and say this: I walk, I walk some more, there is a swampy bit, and I keep reminding myself that if I keep walking I should be hitting Mordor in the near future and tossing the deadly weight of the unending draft of doom into the volcano (and I’ll stop the metaphor there, of course, because the next step would be talking about tonight’s Write Club and I suspect any attempt to position Angela Slatter as the metaphorical Samwise Gamgee in the process would result in some form of bodily injury. Although it also reminds I should do a post about the psychology of write-club once I’m done with the novella).

In less fancy terms, the update goes something like this: rewriting continues, two more chapters got added, and I’m within striking distance of hitting the end. I don’t like the book at this point, but that’s kind of natural in the writing process. After all, I’ve just spent five days looking at it and focusing on the things that are wrong wrong wrong and nothing seems to be working. And the weight of it keeps dragging at my attention, reducing the world down to words and more words and more words, with the occasional break for food and sleep.

Every now and then I take a break and re-read a fragment of an old nanowrimo peptalk:

“The last novel I wrote (it was ANANSI BOYS, in case you were wondering) when I got three-quarters of the way through I called my agent. I told her how stupid I felt writing something no-one would ever want to read, how thin the characters were, how pointless the plot. I strongly suggested that I was ready to abandon this book and write something else instead, or perhaps I could abandon the book and take up a new life as a landscape gardener, bank-robber, short-order cook or marine biologist. And instead of sympathising or agreeing with me, or blasting me forward with a wave of enthusiasm—or even arguing with me—she simply said, suspiciously cheerfully, “Oh, you’re at that part of the book, are you?”

I was shocked. “You mean I’ve done this before?”

“You don’t remember?”

“Not really.”

“Oh yes,” she said. “You do this every time you write a novel. But so do all my other clients.”

I didn’t even get to feel unique in my despair.

So I put down the phone and drove down to the coffee house in which I was writing the book, filled my pen and carried on writing.

One word after another.”

I suspect it’s all about tension at this point – a fight between fixing the longer structural problems “this story makes no sense” rather than the short-terms problems like “this scene has too little tension” or “why do I keep setting things inside cars” or “wait, wasn’t it daylight when I started this scene?” In short, there is much to do, and the evil writer brain wants to tackle them all in an omnivorous burst. The spokesbear tells me to go scene by scene and trust in the process.

As usual, the spokesbear is smarter than I am.

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