Writing: the struggle

This cheeky chappy was my other companion on my @retreatsforyou week of toil and bliss last month. Wrestling a finished draft into something better. ‘Slay that dragon,’ said my brother. ‘It’s a carp,’ said I. ‘Slay that carp doesn’t have the same ring to it,’ came the reply. Sounds like our editor-father speaking. Back in residence at my desk, the struggle continues. Looking for crevices and loopholes in the draft whereby to layer and develop characters and incidents = plot = a better story.

Meanwhile, nice boost, extra orders of Creative Writing: the Matrix, 95 exercises, 21 mini-lectures for creative writing teachers. Back to school in full swing. More here.

Pardon me, I didn’t identify the mystic owl lady of the last post. The painter is Remedios Varo, title Creation of the Birds (Creacion de las aves), in the Museo de Arte Moderno, Mexico City. 1957.

In this post, Utagawa Kuniyoshi in a colour woodblock: Sakata Kaido-maru wrestles with a giant carp. From the British Museum. 1837.

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Writing 3 voices

Okay! Connections made between characters, the two story points-of-view meet in the draft. Now I have to stop and smooth and put the three voices — T, J & fairytale storytelling into one flow. Then go forward. This is a big turning point in the novel (both writing and reading it!). Do the voices work? When I go from T to J, J feels slow. When I’m with J and go back to T, J feels deep and interesting and T feels shallow or a bit cliché and fast. BUT it IS an adventure to write. I don’t know if it will all fit together. Must work out dates, days, weeks.

Speaking of three — spring tulips here doing their dramatic ballet.

Writing in the dark

slkerr-chis-lanterns-shipStill bashing away at the Discovery Draft and I’d written myself into a fab cliff hanger. Next day, Nooooo. I’ve run into a wall of resistance. I need a scene with a drama between T and her father. He’s the wicked baddie… has driven her to lies. So it is a backstory set-up, tense drama but short.

BUT I am writing in bits. Scenes, short chapters, and I’m not even sure of the order and timings. I want to stay loose so as to feel free and invent. Yet I want to stitch it all together to see if the order works. Without nailing myself down. Argh — stuck every way I turn.

This is writing in the dark, bashing on. Meanwhile here’s my photo of a magical lantern show in the gardens of Chiswick House — ships that pass in the night?

Writing NaNoWriMo

2016-09-01 12.31.22 And we’re off! 1st November, day one of National Novel Writing Month. I’m bending the rules of this wonderful writing invention, using it to continue the novel I’m well sunk into. It is extremely a Discovery Draft, a gentle crime mystery featuring a storytelling-therapist. Sometime I know exactly where I’m going. And sometimes I’m lost. And sometimes I learn something I didn’t know at all and totally surprise myself! I haven’t written in this way before — truly an adventure. Never sure what will happen next (a) in the story (b) in the writing progress. Right now feeling quite disorganised (but better since I mapped a Timeline), when that happens I revert to pen and paper.  Using November to push-push-push myself. Click HERE if you need to know more about NaNoWriMo. Do it with writing buddies — it really really works. Not that you actually get a novel done in a month. But it’s far better than not getting a novel done at all.

Writing Once Upon a Time

birdboy-susan-lee-kerrFascinating. I asked in Facebook if I dare re-tell a fairy/folk tale in my new novel, and a whole bevy of friends from widely varied walks of life urged me:  Yes!  They are witness to the eternal appeal of fairytales (or more correctly folktales) and it was great encouragement to embarking on the writing journey. I’m delighted to discover #folklorethursday on Twitter, yet more witness.

Thing is, the novel is also a crime story, but with no gore, so really it’s more of a mystery… with some police procedure and the main character sucked in to being an amateur detective. She’s a story-telling therapist. This brings in archetypes, so I get to treat myself to my shelves of Jung, Joseph Campbell, hero’s journey… as well as Grimm, Jane Yolen, Marina Warner and more.

A Body of Knowledge is set in Chiswick. Great fun to see the place where I live through my character’s eyes and sensibilities. So now you are on the writing journey with me as I blog on about the everyday struggles of writing a novel. The fellow pictured here is Birdren Boy, one of my sculptural papiermache pieces. He’s on a quest. So am I. Are you?