I’m grateful (as I often am) to Jane Smith of How Publishing Really Works for reminding me in a recent post that there are no rules about the process of writing. We all have to find out what works for us. I often feel frustrated on hearing about authors who sit down and write a novel ‘in one draft’ having done all the research and plotting in advance. For me this simply doesn’t work. I can only uncover the story I’m trying to write by writing it (!) This inevitably means I have lots of false starts and dead ends. It also means I have lots of drafts – some that only get to chapter three or four, others that get almost to the end before they are abandonned. I consider myself to be on the ‘second draft’ of the WIP on the basis that I already have a sketchy first draft that tells a complete story. The truth is that I’ve actually embarked on it anew around four times!
The only way I can explain this is by comparing writing a novel to telling a joke – one of those that involves a bit of a narrative. If you’re anything like me, you start telling it then realise you’ve remembered it wrongly and the punch-line isn’t going to work. ‘No, sorry, that’s not it,’ you say to your listeners, then you go back to the beginning and start again. I find a novel is just the same. You get half way through, but if the pace or the plotting is wrong, you have to start again to get it right. Crazy or what?
I’m now resigned to this iterative approach to writing, and also optimistic that ‘draft 2’ is going to reach a conclusion. Of course with another 50,000 or so words to go, I could be wrong.
Just for fun (and just too late for Christmas!) I’ve added a link on the right hand bar to Jacquie Lawson animated e-cards. I think they’re great and now have a subscription that allows me to send as many as I like in a year. Well worth it for such charming creations – and no adverts!
Finally a very Happy New Year to all my readers, especially fellow bloggers like Jane, Juliet and Maureen whom I can always turn to for advice, ideas, photographs or other random distractions. We all need them!
4 thoughts on “Once more with feeling”
Thank you, Ali, and a very Happy New year to you, too. I hope 2009 will be a very productive and satisfying year for you.
Thanks Maureen. I’ve just added you to my blog roll – thought I had done it ages ago!
Just found your blog … from the comments on Random Distractions. Good luck with your published novel and with your wip. When I first read the title I thought I had hour book in the TBR pile but I was wrong. The book I have is Nicole Krauss’ The History of Love (similar title!) But I’m intrigued by the first chapter, and will now add your novel to my wish list!
Margaret – thanks for visiting. Sadly ‘New History’ has not been published – so far. Maybe I will self-publish one day – in which case watch this space!