Archive for October, 2010

I have “finished” writing my novel

Late last night, after about 18 months of hard labour, I finally “finished” writing my novel for children set in Nepal.

I have written “finished” in quotes because, in reality, the process is far from complete. Because this novel is my thesis paper for my Master of Arts in Creative Writing, it needs to now go to my supervising lecturers for one last look, mainly proofreading and final checking. It then goes to an independent examiner for marking. After that long process I may graduate. And then starts a whole new ball game: trying to find a publisher. That game could go on for another 18 -24 months or longer. [Sigh]

In its current form the novel is in its 10th draft. Some sections have been through more drafts than that. The final draft was essentially just proofreading on my part; very few words were changed and I found only a handful of punctuation errors – even after all those times reading through it.

The hard work doesn’t end there however. Today I focused back on my exegesis essay which must accompany the novel. In this essay I explain the origins of the story, the problems I had along the journey of writing it, some of the technical questions encountered and how I solved them and the influences on my writing from my research, reading¬† and studies. And its another 10,000 words, of which I’ve written about 3,500. Time to stop blabbing on here and get back to the essay.

Wish me good writing!

Deleted scene from “Hamlet”

I have it on good authority that Shakespearian experts have discovered a previously unknown snippet deleted from William Shakespeare’s play Hamlet.

Apparently the bard originally had Hamlet, Prince of Denmark, sitting at a table with a blank sheet of drawing paper and a range of drawing pencils in front of him.

Hamlet, looking at the pencils, scratches his head and says: “2B or not 2B, that is the question.”

Still editing my novel

I haven’t had much time to add new posts here on this site for some time. I am in a frantic rush to finish my novel for children in the next few days. Then I will be submitting it as my thesis paper for my Master of Arts in Creative Writing.

I’m currently working on the 9th draft and essentially all I am doing is proofreading. I’m checking that my last rewrite – from third to first person – scraped through with no glaring errors, especially with the changes to the pronouns used. I’m finding a few but not as many as I thought I would.

One of the amazing things about this draft is the errors I’m still finding, mainly missing words. Although this is officially the 9th draft, in reality it is probably the 15th time I’ve been through the manuscript – some sections could well be more. And I’m still finding little errors!

Aaaah!

Who’d be a writer?

Good writing.

Checking my novel

Over recent weeks I have been rewriting my novel for children.

It is now in its 8th draft in which I changed from the third person to the first person. So far, so good. I think it has been worth the effort. While I was at it, I made some significant changes to many phrases and sentences, including cutting out whole paragraphs – but also adding quite a few words and phrases here and there. The nett result is an increase of about 500 words over the whole manuscript while at the same time cutting at least a thousand words.

Now this week I am going over the whole manuscript again – this time meticulously. I’m looking for typos, spelling errors, punctuation mistakes, redundancies, and especially the misuse of pronouns, a problem which occurs when one changes point of view. All this editing and checking is wearying but essential.

It is essential because I want this book to be the very best I can do.

Good writing.

An inspirational effort

I don’t get too many opportunities to watch sport on television these days but when I do I am often inspired by the efforts of elite athletes.

Over the last week I have been watching the television coverage of some of the events in the Commonwealth Games in Delhi, India. These games, like the Olympics, are held every four years in a country belonging to the Commonwealth of Nations. The countries involved include Australia, England, Wales, Scotland, South Africa, New Zealand, Canada and many of the other countries that once made up the British Empire. The Commonwealth Games are often referred to as The Friendly Games with a much more relaxed approach to the event. Competition in the field and pool are still fiercely competitive despite this friendliness, and many records, including world records, are broken.

It is pleasing to me that a country like Australia with a relatively small population base does so well in these and other games. During the last Commonwealth Games in Melbourne in 2006 Australian athletes won more gold medals than the next four best countries combined. The trend this time is going the same way again though host nation India is having a big impact on the results.

During any games events there are many outstanding athletic achievements. Several competitors have already gained three or four gold medals with still five days of competition to go. One effort, however, stands out for me. Australian swimmer Ben Austin is not a household name even here in Australia. A few days ago he won a gold medal in the 100 meter freestyle event. His time would have won every gold medal in this event up to the 1974 Commonwealth Games.

So what, you ask?

Ben happens to have only one arm.

Ben swims in the EAD events. EAD stands for Elite Athletes with a Disability. His classification is S8 (above elbow amputee).  His times are not all that far behind swimmers with two arms. What an achievement. And how inspirational is that achievement?

What has this got to do with writing? Too often writers – me included – grumble when things go wrong, a story is not developing as we’d like it, we have a headache, a poem gets rejected by a publisher or some other minor inconvenience and we feel like giving up. It is times like this we need to remember the Bens of this world. He has achieved great things despite having only one arm.¬† And what about theswimmer in the last Paralympics who won the hearts of so many because he swam the length of the pool with NO arms?

Don’t give up – Good writing.