Roads of Words
Posted on July 9, 2015
I’ve been madly working on my submission for the Richell Prize lately, as much as Lady allows me to, anyway it, as she has been employing a maddening trick of only wanting to be sleeping if she is touching me, and my evenings have not been my own. You work with what you have though.
My story keeps travelling in directions that I never anticipated, and I never cease to be amazed at that magical quality, as though your hand is a conduit for the story to write itself through. I love the way that your characters become real and dear to you, and how well you can picture the scenes that you are creating.
I read a couple of really great articles about writing lately. One was about writing from the wound of your own personal experience, and mining what you find there. Keeping that in mind shaped the detail of the story of my narrator, Cynthie. Nick Cave mentions in 20,000 Days on Earth that every character that he has ever written in novel and song is a hundred different versions of himself, and there are definitely parts of me in my characters. The other piece that resonated with me was by the ever eloquent Helen Garner, on writing about darkness, and what she wrote there touched directly on some of the themes of what I am writing. .
Is what I am writing any good? It feels only just ok, truthfully. Every time I read a line of someone elses book, I shrink back at my audacity. A little voice in my head says “It’s terrible writing.” It whispers savagely “You’ll never finish it”, but I plough on regardless, because I know that to judge something as bad on a first or second or third draft is to throw in the towel. The work is all in the editing and the redrafting. People don’t write masterpieces in one fell swoop, and every time I finish another draft, out comes my red pen, to slash and cut and rearrange and cantilever all over again, as though the writing is being carved out of some malleable substance.
When I read that Richard Flanagan sometimes throws away thousands of words as “rubbish”, I gulp, and think that I am in good company, but wouldn’t we all love to write as well as Richard’s rubbish? Here’s the thing, most of all, though writing this “book” makes me daily question all that I think that I am, and makes me fear that I will show myself to be a failure and a fake, yet still, it provides a continuity and an anchor that is lately the solace of my days.
Have you ever attempted to write a book? I know that some of my readers have had their books published. Did it make you feel all of these things? Is anyone submitting chapters for the Richell Prize? How are you going with it?
This post is devoted to Sarah C, and all of the beautiful things that she created, and all of the beautiful things that she would have created x