Monday, January 11, 2010

How you are feeling affects what you write (warning, long post)

I've had fantastic feedback from my agent and editor about the first 45,000 words. Both say very much the same thing and have identified an (easily remedied) flaw. I thought about what I was doing at the time of writing those bits and I can see how much they have affected the tone of my novel:

I was very, very busy at school - lots of marking and reports and teaching. Then there was the publicity and launch of Banquo's Son.

Also, since the beginning of August we, as a family, have been going through a very difficult time and though we are a tight unit, I was very affected by what happened to the agrieved person. I have spent a lot of time crying all hours of the day and night and not sleeping and being really, really angry.

What we believe is a huge injustice has consumed me and, though I have tried to do as Malcolm tells Macduff in Macbeth 'Let grief convert to anger; blunt not the heart - enrage it', this has sucked a lot of my creative energy and focus.

Now that I have been on holidays for a few weeks, I am able to gain some distant from the source of pain and turn my attentions back to energetic writing.

Interersting thing that I've notice these past few days: I have tried to write 3,000 words a day but I can't physically do it. I'm averaging about 1,200-1,500. I get tired. The scene I see in my head needs drawing out but I don't have the stamina.

A number of times, impatient just to get on with the story, I will write in square brackets 'more here' or 'fix this up' or (esp if I'm too lazy to find the accurate term) 'whatever the thing is'

I don't think this is cheating; I think it is a way to stop myself getting bogged down with detail when I know the thing I have to do first is get the bones of the novel finished.

A while ago, Rachel King asked the question: Are you a putter in or a taker out (see her blog post here).

Me: I think I put in during each draft. Kinda like how my mother paints her oils - layers upon layers until it's almost 3D.

So my advice: don't write if you're tired (your work will most likely read dull), don't write action stuff when you are sad (your warriors will more likely be wandering around angsting rather than weilding claymores) and don't write when you are angry because you will transfer that to your characters and that may not be what they need.

I have tried to leave my author self at the door before I sit before my computer. I then take a moment to pray and then mentally picture where I am (I being the reader) and who I am (I being the character) and then I begin.

Seems to be working so far and what I've written this past week is good - I don't think I've said 'I'm writing crap' even once (I said this a lot last term!)

1 comment:

Ross Calverley said...

Interesting insight Tania.