Archive for the 'General' Category

Writing a novel is a marathon event

I am in the last stages of finishing my work in progress, a novel for children set in Nepal. This 40,000 word novel, and the accompanying 10,000 word exegesis essay, is the final stage of my Master of Arts in Creative Writing.

I’ve been working on the novel for over 18 months and finally it is getting near to ready to submit to examiners in the coming weeks. Then I plan to start it on its journey around the various publishing houses, so fun continues. This novel writing game is not a sprint, and more of a marathon. In fact, sometimes it feels like having to run a marathon every day.

Despite the weariness, I am pleased with the final product and I’ve learned so much along the way. With the help of my critiquing group, friends who are critical readers, and my supervising lecturers, my skills have been honed and my writing has improved way beyond what I had thought possible.

I have learned, above all, not to be precious about my words. I have learned to be ruthless and to cut anything that does not work, anything that is repetitious, redundancies, passive voice, switches in POV and many other stumbling blocks placed in the path of writers everywhere.

Must get back to the finishing touches.

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.

Writing on a new computer

I have a new laptop computer. Yay!

My old laptop was just over six years old and was getting really, really slow.

I mean – r e a l l y  s l o w. There wasn’t much space left on the hard drive either, which was causing me a few headaches too.

That’s all in the past now that I have my new Lenovo T510. Plenty of space, some new features and a lovely new feel. Now I have no excuse – I should be very productive.

My son is the techno wizz in our family and he helped me transfer all of my files from the old computer to the new one. Everything seems to be working fine, though I am still getting used to using Windows 7. One of the things my son is very careful is making backups of all one’s computing files. I don’t do this often enough on the separate USB drive I have for this purpose. I did do a full backup of all files before leaving on my current holiday visiting my son in Sydney. He is also very careful about backups of all files and he has set up some safeguards for my files too.

All I have to do now is get on with my writing…

…but I am on holiday for another week.

Good writing.

Some thoughts about writing from Tom Keneally

Adelaide Writer’s Week 2010

I had the privilege of hearing Australian writer Tom Keneally speak several times during this year’s Adelaide Writers’ Week. On each occasion he was in fine form and proved to be not only a brilliant speaker, but also funny and instructive – often at the same time.

I didn’t take many notes during the week but preferred to just sit, listen and soak up the wonderful atmosphere while listening to such a fine parade of great writers. I did take a few notes for one of Tom’s talks.

“I am the one who needs my books – the world goes on perfectly well without them. I am no longer under the delusion that the world needs my books.” Tom Keneally, Adelaide Writers’ Week 2010

This is a sober reminder about the world and about books. He is perfectly right, of course. The world will continue functioning as it does without that novel or short story or poem you are slaving over. It will make no difference at all if that piece of writing is never published.

Tom is also wrong

At the same time, I believe that Tom is also wrong. The world may not need that novel, non-fiction book, sonnet or article, but there is surely someone out there – perhaps only one person, or a handful of people – whose lives can be changed, influenced or even enhanced by what you write. This is why we must, as writers entrusted with divine words, always strive to write the very best we possibly can.

Our writing can – and should – make a difference.

Good writing.

Tom Keneally opening Adelaide Writers' Week 2010

Tom Keneally opening Adelaide Writers' Week 2010

Opinion: a ridiculous state of affairs

Some things really rile me. They get under my skin and irritate me like the itch of a hundred mosquito bites.

Today is a public holiday throughout South Australia for the running of the Adelaide Cup.

Ridiculous if you ask me.

The Adelaide Cup is, at best, a second rate horse race when compared to say the Melbourne Cup. It interests only a few thousand people and for that a whole state grinds to a halt. It just shows how morally bankrupt our state has become. It is a ridiculous excuse for a holiday in an era when our state should be doing everything possible to be productive.

But then – the same thing could be said of many of our public holidays.

I hope you have a wonderful day, and if you live here in SA,  enjoy your break.