Sunday, 25 March 2012

27. At Last

“I think that to write well and convincingly, one must be somewhat poisoned by emotion. Dislike, displeasure, resentment fault-finding, imagination, passionate remonstrance, a sense of injustice–they all make fine fuel.” – Edna Ferber

FYI Writing is very hard, and no, I'm not just figuring it all out now, I thought it better to say aloud to get it off my chest. I don't think anyone chooses to write, if it's in you, it takes you and there is nothing you can do about it, so shut up and do as the voices say.

                        (I blurred the last line of the story, I have friends reading this blog, you know?)

I have two main reasons for writing this blog, firstly...

While I think it is pitiful that this is my first post of the New Year, I do have a good reason, and that reason is obviously writing related. In my previous post  This Woman's Work I spoke about completing Nanowrimo. The good news is I think so far I've been able to keep the discipline it enforced, by writing consistently and swallowing back the excuses I've got a lot done, hence no blog posts. I finished the Freak Shows!!!

Do you remember when I said I didn't really enjoy writing the last 15,000 words of it? Yeah, well, I printed the novel out and after a lot of reading and note taking (consistency, characterization, and dropped threads) I'd say it was those last 15k that needed the most work.

               (so many hours of work, late nights and early mornings. Yes, I even write on my LoveFilm letters.)

Oddly enough, although it has been a very long week, I'm looking forward to getting back on the computer with my notepad beside me to make the story even better. I've given myself a two week deadline to complete this process, it's taken me a little over a week to do the first half which was reading it like a teacher and making extensive notes (asking and answering questions like 'Why is this scene necessary? Would Kit really react this way?) It has been really enlightening to find the answers and study them, and read them over. It was a great feeling to see it all falling into place, character motivations, formed connections and the desperation that breeded unthinkable acts all tying to each other.

I don't know if that's a bad sign, to actually enjoy the hard work of going through the story with a fine tooth comb, though, truly, I don't think it was the hard work I enjoyed. It was the realisation that I had come out the other side, reached the final page after sticking with it every hour I had to work on refining and colouring it some, you know? To make it pop.

I don't know if I'm the only one who does this, but with some of my stories, I notice it has a colour. It sounds weird, but when I picture Freak Shows, I see a tint of colours, like bokeh and camera flare from the sun every time I imagine the world and the people. There are a lot of yellows, blues and greens.

Also, it might surprise you to know that although I have over 12 pages of notes, the major parts of Freak Shows won't be changed.

                                                               (So colourful =D )

Are you still talking? This leads me to the second reason I wanted to blog, and that’s the old writer's trap we fall into. I've had this chat with Jenn (Doody) my part-time, whenever she can and isn't swamped with school work editor; we were talking about methods of writing and the pressure to follow advice from others. I often find myself trolling the internet trying to find every bit of advice I can about how to make stronger characters, better plots, sharper dialogue or how to edit, and while I do get some ideas, sometimes I feel drained and overwhelmed afterward, like, wow,  am I getting this all wrong? Is my way wrong?

It's like going on a diet or deciding to exercise, there will be millions of dieticians, physicians and celebrities telling you how to go about it, but they're not there with you when you go for that run or have water over soda. All the actual work is up to you.

My strategy for editing is to review the story when it's finished as a reader (as unbiased as I can manage) the characters, plot, pace and then make note of the forgotten subplots, characters, descriptions. Lastly, I check the spelling, grammar and active over passive voice. It's all been a learning experience for me, one that I prefer.

                                                           (Yikes, so much red, right?)

So what's your point? If you're a writer, you need to know how important it is to find YOUR way of doing things. Write from the end to the beginning, start with the middle and work your way out, start character bios or write blindly and see who develops and grows from your spontaneous fingers, do what works. And, when you've finally finished it, edit it how you want, too. Are you going to hack the story into bits and tear things out, rewrite whole chapters, or do you need to just reorder scenes? Do not feel pressured into rubbishing your story because you've read an interview of a best-selling author saying to throw half of it out after you write it, and don't go and change your gentle character into an arse kicking leather wearing bad ass just because a writer or a reviewer on amazon says  so.

(No one can truly teach you how to tell a good story, all they can do is show you the way how they did, you're the one who has to connect with the story you're telling and the characters you're writing.)

Stay true your characters, vow to be forever loyal to them, even if they don't make it to the end of the book and it pains you, do what they would want, respect their wishes. So, from writer to writer, you should probably almost always ignore the advice of another writer, especially when they contradict themselves, like I've just done. LOL - Unless, this actually works for you, take the advice of a writer if what they're saying resonates, if it doesn't say 'no, thank you' and move on.

The End In closing, yay. I gave myself a deadline after Nano to finish it by Feb 14th; I finished it Feb 15th at 5:18am. Let's take a moment to celebrate my being a little closer to sending out Queries.

I have 5 days left exactly, to edit it again. I plan to read it over one more time as a story and then send it out to my friends, for a review and hopefully their enjoyment. Once they have given me their honest feedback, it’s off to be scrutinized, turned upside down and maybe even represented.

  (I play with photoshop sometimes and got this colourful cover playing with paint, apply image and textured backgrounds.)

I hope once I finish Freak Shows and then begin the art of writing a brilliant Query Letter, I'll have more time to blog about my adventures. I'm hoping for at least 4 a month. But don't hold me to it, I can be a little inconsistent unless it includes procrastinating, that I can breeze through.

Title Info. Etta James

See you later,




  1. First off, woop! It is so amazing to see that you’ve finished Freak Shows and are so close to finishing the editing. I can’t say I’m surprised. Your determination and dedication are just two things that set you apart from somebody who wants to write and somebody who DOES write.

    As you say, writing is hard. It takes a lot of effort and a lot of time. Sometimes it flows, sometimes it doesn’t. When it doesn’t, that’s when so many would give up. The fact you finished this novel shows you didn’t give up. :D

    I completely agree with what you say about advice from other writer’s. The more I write and the more my confidence grows, the more I find myself approaching writing advice with trepidation. I find myself disagreeing with many writers and the things they have said. For example, Hemingway’s ‘the first draft of anything is shit’ – can’t ever bring myself to agree with that. The first draft may not always be perfect, but that doesn’t mean it’s complete crap. And the whole ‘you’ll lose half your word count in the edit’ stuff, not always true – I actually added scenes to Nate rather than take any away.

    You’ve said it perfectly, as with most things in life, writing and editing is about finding what works for you.

    I cannot wait to read Freak Shows – I’m so excited and I know it’ll be even better than great.

    PS – I love your writing! It’s so much neater than mine!

  2. Thank you, babe!!! I have to say, my dedication and determination is fuelled by the inspirations in my life and you're one of them. I feel like Khim has been pushing me to do this for myself, it's just a feeling of her over my shoulder checking up on me, making sure I'm not slacking off like usual. It comforts me.

    Another thing that has driven me is the story itself and the characters, I feel like the story of their unfortunate lives is up until now untold. This process has made me realise until this story, I was writing timidly, in the sense that I was always aware of what is and isn't favoured among my favourite authors, and even friends. For example, romance, and so I found my writing was wary, and therefore simply ok. But I'm bold and my writing should be too, love it or hate, the worse that can happen is a bruised ego. After reading 'I, Lucifer' I realised his story and the style in which he wrote it was unapologetic, and I loved that. So, while going into Freak Shows, I told the story as it wanted and needed to be told, the editing for me was about keeping that promise.

    I felt like because they were published they knew more than me which isn't true. Yes, they know the business side more than me, what's marketable and what's not, but they can never know the needs and wants of my characters more than me.

    To be a writer, we have to be unapologetic, truthful and trust OUR own instincts and not another writer's. You learn by trial and error but you learn it your way. I'm so giddy to know your confidence grows the more you write, mine is growing, too. I think your writing is already A class but it can only get better with that attitude and mind set.

    You're not the only one who doesn’t agree with Hemingway's quote. I said in an earlier post you might not strike gold the first time but it's not true of every writer that they'll produce shit, like with us, we're advanced now, but that's not to say a beginner with a rich imagination can't create something good first time round, good doesn't mean publishable. There's always still work to be done and something new to be learned in the craft. Ahhh! Homework forever!

    And I took so long to respond that you’ve already read Freak Shows. LOL!

    P.S. I only like my writing when it's black ink, I feel like it's a mess in every other colour. ;)