Back to the written word

The heading is a double entendre, I believe, although I didn’t realise the link until later. After viewing the sketches from last week’s art class, there was no way I was going to advertise them, and with my novel now back on track, I thought a post about its progress might be more inspiring than looking at the worst drawings I have done in some time. The old learning curve at work again! However, I am pleased to be making progress on the novel, coming on the heels of readers’ praise for my recent short story collection.

Fortunately, I run a monthly writing critique group, and I had written another possible introduction to the story for the group to review. They liked what I had written, but I still didn’t feel it was right for the opening, although I felt it made a fluid chapter on its own. Up until this point I had written about 20,000 words, and had typed up ideas for various sections as I went along. I usually make these bold and leave gaps top and bottom, so I can scroll through the script and pick these up easily.

Listening to one particular writer talk about their writing practice at the recent Auckland Writers and Readers festival, my ears pricked up when he said, “I wish that I had done more research at the beginning rather than attempt to do it as I went along.” Mmm. That’s the kind of haphazard way I had begun this novel, which is focussed on one main character’s life over a particular decade.

Once home, I wrote out a new timeline, and worked out where particular scenes or events might go. I then began researching the areas I’d not yet expanded upon. This was mainly from websites, but I also asked people (including friends and family) who had lived in the area through the decade, to clarify some items. It’s been very interesting receiving their reports. Some of the topics have included classes in Philosophy and Te Reo Māori, movies and music, politics, fashion, and art – to name a few. This might sound a tiring task but, when writing a book, it is important to have your facts straight! I could record exactly how much time I spend on this retrieval of facts, but I imagine such awareness may very well put me off writing altogether. And that is something I just don’t want to do!

3 thoughts on “Back to the written word

  1. Yes, I understand research. A lot of work but fascinating. As for your delightful title, never turn your back( for long) to your written work. Return to it, and your lovely sketches, as often as possible. All the best.

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