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In Honour of World Book Day Here are Quentin Blake’s Rights of the Reader Illustrations

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What Is It Like To Make A Book from Seth Godin

The roller coaster of shipping

Perhaps something like this has happened to you. Here’s an annotated graph of what it’s like to make a book, with ‘joy’ being the Y axis with time along the bottom (click to enlarge)…

Rollercoasterofshipping2
1. The manic joy of invention. The idea arrives, it’s shiny and perfect. I can’t wait to share it.

2. The first trough of reality. Now that I’ve pitched the idea to someone (and I’m on the hook), the reality of what has to be done sets in precisely as the manic joy of invention disappears.

3. WaitThe epic pause of reality. It’s not quite as bad as I feared. I can see a path here, maybe. I’m still in trouble, sure, but perhaps…

4. The horrible trough of stuckness. The path didn’t work. The data isn’t here. Critical people have said no. People in critical roles have said no. I can’t find any magic. Sigh.

5. Flow. This is why we do it. The promises made as a result of #1 pushed me through the horrible trough, and the lights are coming on and my forward motion, my relentless forward motion, may just be contagious. Let’s not talk about this, because I don’t want it to dissipate.

6. The pre-publication lizard-brain second-guess. I see the notes that have come back to me, all that red pen, the not-quite-ebullient look on the face of a trusted reader. I am sniffing everywhere for clues of impending doom, and yes, there they are.

7. The realization that it’s good enough. This is the local max, but not the universal one. Optimists welcome. It’s not perfect, but it’s going to ship, and good luck to it.

8. Post-partum ennui. “Why haven’t you read my book yet?”

9. Life. And this is the long haul, the book in the world, the hearing about a book you wrote ten years ago that’s still impacting people. The crepe paper grand opening bunting has been taken down and there is no one left to write a snarky review, because the book is on its own, touching, spreading and being.

And then, sometimes, #1 happens again. Or not.

Reblogged from Seth Godin…too good not to share!


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The People’s Book Awards Nomination

The People's Book Awards Image

This is just a quick post to let you know that Take Me to the Castle has been nominated for The People’s Book Awards. I am over the moon. Thank you to those of you who have read it, and if you enjoyed it I wanted to ask if you would be willing to vote. There is a winner picked for the kindle and print categories each month. At the moment I am in between J.R.R. Tolkien and J.K Rowling!!

Thank you also for following this blog and for your likes and interesting comments. I am really enjoying following your blogs, especially this weeks posts on the great Robert Burns and your wonderful photographs. I hope those of you in the colder regions of the world are keeping warm. Here, in Vienna, it is freezing.

And have a good weekend.

But pleasures are like poppies spread, 
You sieze the flower, its bloom is shed; 
Or like the snow falls in the river, 
A moment white–then melts for ever; 
Or like the borealis race, 
That flit ere you can point their place; 
Or like the rainbow’s lovely form 
Evanishing amid the storm.– 
Nae man can tether time or tide; 
The hour approaches Tam maun ride; 
That hour, o’ night’s black arch the key-stane, 
That dreary hour he mounts his beast in; 
And sic a night he taks the road in 
As ne’er poor sinner was abroad in.

Extract from ‘Tam o’ Shanter’ Robert Burns

 


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Step Away From The Vehicle

Step away from the vehicle – and put your novel in a drawer

step away

This is the final piece of advice I wanted to share with you from Zadie Smith in this series on writing wisdom.

When you finish your novel put it in a drawer for as long as possible. A year or more is ideal, says Smith, but even three months will do. Step away from the vehicle. The secret to editing your work lies in the fact that you must become a reader instead of a writer. Smith says that there have been many times where she has sat backstage with a line of novelists at a literary festival, all with red pens in hand, frantically editing their published novels so that they might go onstage and read from them. Unfortunately the perfect state of mind to edit your own novel is apparently two years after it is published! And ten minutes before you go onstage at a literary festival. At that moment every redundant phrase, each pointless metaphor, all the pieces of deadwood are distressingly obvious to you as a writer.

Several years previously, when the proofs arrived, you looked at the same page and couldn’t see a comma out of place. And by the way, that’s true of the professional editors, too; after they have read a manuscript multiple times, they stop being able to see it. You need a certain head on your shoulders to edit a novel, and it’s not the head of a writer in the thick of it, nor the head of a professional editor who’s read it in 12 different versions. It’s the head of a smart stranger who picks it off a bookshelf and begins to read. You need to get into the head of that smart stranger and forget you ever wrote that book.

Personally, I left my novel for three months and began a Masters in Theology. Needless to say, the theology fell by the wayside once I picked up the book again, cut out a whole family, added two chapters, released it into the hands of my editors and completed the edits once they had finished their job. You don’t need to change course or take up something new, but at least begin some other writing and let it rest.

Here are some of my previous articles which you mind find helpful for editing your work:

https://fcmalby.wordpress.com/2012/10/10/3-things-to-remember-when-editing-your-book/

https://fcmalby.wordpress.com/2012/10/16/editing-and-ove-ruse-of-words-make-each-word-count/

https://fcmalby.wordpress.com/2012/11/09/one-of-the-most-effective-ways-of-editing-your-work/

 

Some interesting articles on leaving a gap between finishing your book and editing your work:

http://www.wiseinkblog.com/planning/at-first-draft-the-6-minimal-steps-to-revising-your-manuscript-before-submission/

http://www.writersdigest.com/qp7-migration-books/wgf-revision_excerpt

http://www.write4kids.com/feature4.html

http://theliteraryhub.blogspot.co.at/2011/10/top-10-tips-for-revising-your.html

http://www.scriptmag.com/features/rewriting-is-writing (this advice is for screenwriting but it applies equally to novels.)


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Zadie Smith on Macro Planners and Micro Managers as Writers

writing

To continue with Zadie Smith’s words on writing, I’d like to look at her breakdown of writers into two categories. They are a little over-simplistic but give a good idea of how differently people plan their writing.

Macro Planners

You will recognise a Macro Planner from his Post-its and notebooks. A Macro Planner organises material, forms a plot, and moulds a structure before deciding on a title for their work. This structural security gives him a great deal of freedom of movement. Many Macro Planners, she states, begin writing their novels in the middle. As they progress, forwards or backwards, their difficulties multiply with their choices and they exchange possible endings for one another, take characters out and put them back in, reverse the order of chapters and perform radical surgery on their novels: moving the setting of a book from London to Berlin, for example, or changing the title.

Micro Managers

Micro Managers, in great contrast, have no grand plan. Their novels exist in the present moment and are written line by line.

Smith says, ‘When I begin a novel I feel there is nothing of that novel outside of the sentences I am setting down. I have to be very careful: the whole nature of the thing changes by the choice of a few words. This induces a special breed of pathology for which I have another ugly name: OPD or obsessive perspective disorder. It occurs mainly in the first 20 pages. It’s a kind of existential drama, a long answer to the short question What kind of a novel am I writing?’

Opening a variety of novels, you can recognise Micro Managers – there will often be a block of stilted wording which loosens and relaxes after the 20-page mark is passed. Yet while this is happening, somehow the work of the rest of the novel gets done. It is much like winding up a toy car and then letting it go. When you can settle on a tone, the rest of the book will find a groove. Worrying over the first 20 pages is a way of working on the whole novel, a way of finding its structure, its plot, its characters—all of which, for a Micro Manager, she says, are contained in the sensibility of a sentence. Once the tone is there, all else follows. You hear interior decorators say the same about a shade of paint.