Saturday, April 21, 2012

I could go on tinkering forever...

Maurice Gee once said this about his writing. He talked about the discomfort (horror?) of reading his work in print where he would 'see lost fictional opportunities...things [he] could have done better...'

I have driven about 1000 kms in the last two days. We left Dunedin 10:30am Friday and arrived back from North Canterbury at 4pm today (Saturday). My husband and I took turn about with the driving and while he drove, I had the lap top propped up on a pillow and worked on the edits of Birthright. When I was driving, I was thinking about the edits of Birthright. Sometimes, I solved a problem I'd encountered; sometimes I made more trouble for myself.

We went to visit a special friend whom I've known from school days and her husband on their amazing farm. It was so peaceful and beautiful and I plan to go back soon and justify it as an ideal (idyllic) writing retreat. Go here to get a peak.

Stories are not static things - even when they are locked into their published state. Ideas shift; characters develop long after the writer has typed 'The End' and sent the manuscript off into the world of cyberspace. Giving your story time has huge advantages and many more eloquent than me have advised this: better story structure, better crafting etc etc. But I think one can over think/over analyze. Yes, of course that would be interesting to make the character do that; it would be just as interesting to make her do this thing as well (whatever that or this is). In the end, the critical thing is whether what you select pushes the story further/deepens our understanding of the character.

In our house at the moment, the mantra is (from my husband and daughters - probably the dogs too if they could speak English) - just finish the damn book! I suppose it's because I'm insufferable and I'm not doing my share of the household chores. I could go on tinkering forever...But I can't. I have a deadline. My patient editor is waiting waiting waiting for the rewrites and I owe it to her and her busy schedule to send her my work to get cracking on.

The other (almost horrifying but weirdly satisfying) thing is that I am deleting large chunks of stuff which I thought deepened the characters etc but all it was was rehashed ideas. I am aiming for a quicker, tighter narrative.

So, in saying all of this, I best get back to it. I've given myself all of Sunday to read over what I've done and hope that I pick up any glaring problems before sending it back to the publisher for its next bit of scrutiny.


J.T. Webster said...

An interesting post. I agree that you can never stop tinkering.The trick is to know just when to stop!!
The farm you stayed at looks so peaceful - a great place to write.
All the best for the new school term and the finishing of your book.

TK Roxborogh said...

Thanks Sue, for your best wishes. Back at you with your tinkering etc

Karen said...

Tinker away T K. We so loved having you all stay with us and incidently when you finally finish your book it will be fabulous as the story line is just so good. Can't wait to read it. xx