Sunday, 9 October 2011

Work in progress


Hello from the depths of my study, amid teetering piles of research material and pages of notes! Hope you’re all well and enjoying the start of autumn. I’ve been working hard as I intended: at 25,000 words into the first draft, it’s “so far, so good” with the new book, even if there’s a long way to go yet.

I always think of this stage as the word equivalent of painting a big colourful picture. You need to fill the canvas completely with broad brushstrokes to block in the main features. It’s an undercoat – little more than a guide for the more detailed work that will form the top layer that you’ll gradually build up. This really is one of the fun parts, because it’s all about experimenting and it doesn’t have to be perfect.

The allowing of it to be imperfect is key to the whole process, for me at least. It completely eliminates writer’s block, as putting words down fast kick starts the imagination. How many of the current 25,000 words make it into the finished book? I’ve no idea. They are the building blocks. The good parts will survive to the next stage, and the parts that make me cringe will be cut or rewritten.

It’s a good time to write key dialogue and conversation scenes, though, because they have to sound spontaneous and new all the way through to the finished book, and sometimes I’ll hardly change these from this first enthusiastic charge into the heart of the book.

It’s not a good time to read any reviews of previous books. I think I’m very open to criticism and have a strong sense of how I might take feedback and improve. With the new book, for example, I’m trying hard to inject some rocket fuel under the plot right from the start, and to rein back on superfluous description.

But there comes a point when writers have to be true to themselves and what they are trying to achieve – which is not necessarily what a proportion of Amazon reviewers were expecting, and failed to find. I don’t want to abandon characteristics of my writing that many other readers have written to me personally to say they’ve loved.

And whenever I feel daunted, I make myself smile and remind myself that this is fun. I never forget that I might otherwise be commuting to a job I hate, or be a square peg in a round hole of any number of work situations, and that I’m very lucky to have the chance to do this in the first place.    

22 comments:

Richard Moisan said...

Tu as raison, Deborah, c'est beau ce que tu fais. Mais n'as-tu jamais pensé à écrire un scénario de film que tu pourrais venir présenter à Cannes?

renilde said...

dear Deborah, it's interesting to read about how you start a new book, about the freedom you allow yourself to play and search. i can understand the resemblance to starting a new painting, the sketching, the seach for the right composition and colors.

autumn has the same effect on me and many of us, it brings us the wind, the abundance of rich colors and along comes some kind of energy, very different from the spring energy, propulsive but not so jumpy ....at least that's how it feels to me :)

wishing you enjoyable working days and lots of magical inspiration. xx

vanessafrance said...

You have been getting on well - 25,000 words is a lot. And it's good advice to allow it to be imperfect. I always make the mistake of trying to polish on the spot, which makes progress painfully slow.

Keep up the good work and let us know how you're getting on.

Kelly Hashway said...

I'm in about the same place you are--26K into my WIP. Though progress will not be as steady this week because I have a lot of editing projects going on.

Janel said...

How exciting to feel the rush of a new project still carrying through at the 25K mark. I find it interesting that you keep much of the dialogue unchanged in later drafts. Obviously, what you're doing is working! Have fun and good luck!!

Tameka said...

Deborah, reading this reminded me of when I was working on my first novel. It is a lovely feeling! I learned so much through that process and even though the work hasn't been published just yet, no one can take that experience away from me! Good going on your progress and we are all looking forward to your creation. I still have yet to read The Lantern, but I will definitely get it before the holidays.

Blessings and writers bliss to you!

http://lyricfire.typepad.com/lyric-fire/2011/10/lyric-fire-my-journey-in-the-key-of-c-poem-for-breast-cancer-awareness-month.html

Julia Munroe Martin said...

I love your tree photo -- and so glad you let me know it was up! Beautiful! I'm surrounded by research materials and notes too while I make my way through an edit/revision of a first draft. And as with you -- I feel lucky to have a chance to do this, too!

MuMuGB said...

Deborah, I think that it is important to stay true to yourself. You are a very talented writer. I can't wait to read the new book, and I wouldn't worry too much about Amazon. Don't change a thing. I actually like reading your descriptions.

Lisa Erin said...

Great to see these 'smoke signals' from your study. I relate to your process, as it's much like mine. I call it my 'stream of consciousness phase'.

Autumn is here, and in full force. Rather rainy today, but the cooler temperatures, changing leaves, and just the over all autumnal vibe...so very welcome.

Happy writing!

Elizabeth Young said...

Happy Thanksgiving Deborah! Because you have a thankful heart and appreciate what you are able to do you are doubly blessed. Here in Canada it is Thanksgiving this weekend. Gorgeous weather - 80 degrees, so the natives are happy! LOL

Pet said...

It is nice to hear from you!

James Kiester said...

I hear ya, I'll even write key scenes out of order just to get them down. Good luck hun.

louciao said...

And we're very lucky to catch these glimpses of you doing your work. So interesting to read about your creative process of letting it flow. Much the same with painting, I find. Plenty of time to invite the inner critic in later, as long as she's the one who speaks in your true voice.

BookGeek said...

You've just inspired me to kick-start my WIP as soon as I get home. Thank you Deborah. Best of luck to the next 25,000 words!

Gabby Nesiba said...

This was so inspiring, Deborah. I'm right at the beginning of my very first novel; I mean, early early research stage. Right now it seems so daunting trying to figure everything out...trying to get enough history to pave the path for my story. Thanks for reminding me that it doesn't have to be perfect to start off with. You're right; it should be fun!

-Gabby

www.gabriellenesiba.blogspot.com

Deb said...

I just had this very conversation with a writer friend last night. I think it's so important to learn how to dismiss subjectivity and concentrate on the critiques that make sense to you as the creator and writer of your world. But what worries me bit? I was hoping after the first pub that I'd somehow become immune. Are you insinuating that's not true?? Now, I'm in trouble. haha.

Cottage Garden said...

Hello Deborah and greetings from a little cottage in Suffolk.

I'm so glad to have stumbled across this space in the blogosphere! I have been leisurely (I don't know for how long, the time has just flown by!)scrolling through the whole of your blog from top to bottom. I love the seamless way you have woven parts of your book and the fabric of your life into this mesmerising blog.

I also love France and have spent many holidays in the south-west so it is with interest that I read of your adventures in the countryside around your home.

Good luck with the next stage of your novel. I hope it doesn't keep you away from your blog for too long - having only just found you!

Jeanne

aguja said...

It is so refreshing to read your description of how you begin to write. I agree with you that to get words out there onto the page is essential. Also, that this is the fun part - wild creativity within a vague framework, just to get going.

I especially want to thank you for this post as I thought of you when I was away in England and wondered how you set about beginning a new book.

It is also encouraging to us writers, and an inspiration, to be allowed to 'peek in' at the workings of another.

You are right not to read reviews at this time as it would bring into play other thoughts and feelings other than those you wish to immerse yourself in.

Best wishes for another beautiful novel in the making!

Jacqueline said...

How exciting! Also I love the colors in this photo.

Blue Muse said...

It's interesting to get a peek inside the process. This is what rang out to me... But there comes a point when writers have to be true to themselves and what they are trying to achieve and I think everyone should live that way! I will follow wherever your wonderful words lead. Go, Deborah, go!
:)
xo isa
ps thanks so much for coming by my little blogland world. I love the company.

Stacey Donaldson said...

I so needed to read this Deborah! I am trying to get ready for Nanowrimo and the closer it gets the more anxious I am becoming. After reading your post I realize that part of my angst is because I am expecting perfection, which will not happen on the first round. I must give myself permission for it to be flawed and remember that it's fun! I love it! I can't tell you how much this helped me :-)

Blinds Installation said...

You have been very busy! Creative inspiration is wonderful. I am looking forward to that next book!

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