Saturday, April 17, 2010

Confessions of a budding novelist, or after nanowrimo

After 180 pages with no plan other than a basic plot outline, I have decided that I have written a culture, a bunch of characters that I adore (far too many) and I know which passages are in the flow. My world is visual, alive, vibrant, and I just love lots of it. If I am pleased than hopefully my reader will be too.

I don’t know what I am doing, just that I am being written by my novel. I began knowing I wanted it to be fantasy. I had a whole year or so working with the many writing prompts in Soul Food, and I have learnt the discipline of daily writing. I certainly don’t suffer from writer’s block, but I do need to work on my PLOTTING.

Now comes focus, and finding a way to work my way through that first novel. I have decided that one way to encourage my journey to the finish of this project is to read. Yes, stop writing occassionally and read any book in the genre that I love, and look at what keeps me reading, knowing where the characters are, and how fluent the writing I love actually is.

I am tempted to shelve the whole of my first novel, throw it in a drawer, and begin again, or press onto the end, and see what happens. Then I will know where to go. Alternatively I have written out all the strands of the novel and tried to think which threads do I need for book 1. Yes, I have come to the realisation I have planned a series, a world, and a series of character that could keep me going for years, if I can just master this first novel, and have my novel behave itself enough for the reader to be hooked in.

I really don’t know if I could show it to a mentor writer without cringing, it needs more work than that – I do have a close friend reading it, egging me on, letting me know which bits are working for her. I am being pushed around by my creation. Characters keep saying -’ no me I am your central character’. It’s time to take them in hand and say, ‘No you are the next novel – honest I’ll get to you’, it is time to make some tough decisions.

I do know that I do have a vivid and varied imagination. Now it’s time to apply the magic and just make the novel work. So enough of the procrastination, time to make every moment count and maybe come at it like a puzzle. The months after nanowrimo have been truly tough as the editorial haze nit picking kicked in and I just started to wonder where my story was going. Now that haze is lifting and I am reading to do a more realistic outline and work with it to make it what it needs to be.
Sometimes to help me create the novel I let the characters speak on their behalf. This is one of the potential candidates for the lead role. She is still significantly like this, only she has an aunty, lost parents, a quest, and she is already at circus school. I do like to remember where she came from and her auditions for the role though.

Image: From my Writer's Scrapbook

© June Perkins, all rights reserved.

First published Pearlz Dreaming

Fishing deeper for words: intertextuality and citation

So sometimes working from our own imaginations is simply not enough. Communicating deep topics with others means drawing on the mythologies, and popular culture that everyone relates to so as to construct our metaphors.

Yet, citation is fraught with danger of falling into the malaise of cliche. Cliche, that thing that professional writing instructors tell us kills good writing. A well placed transformed cliche though is a citation that surprises and causes writers to take their writing to another higher plane, where they are looking down on all those cliches that once clouded their meaning.

Last night we were chatting about how my eldest son loves to set trends, but once they are a trend he can’t practice them any more. He has turned into a cliche even though he was original. So what does he do, set a new trend. He may begin wearing a fedora hat, but if too many people wear it, off it comes. Then he tries odd shoes. No one copies that, he has found his originality.

I wonder how that would work applied to writing, and transforming our blogs. I wonder about the discipline of citation, and referrring to studies and others to make our own words more legitimate and remember people introducing me to the work of bell hooks. I must go back and review some of her work and remember why it excited me so much to read.

Intertextuality in a blog is in the links placed in our posts. We may not explore it as fully as we could, the reader simply clicks and can go exploring. Yet, if we explore it, as well as provide that different coloured font, that will remind them to click, will we be going deeper in our writing. Maybe just a link is like a skim on a surface, a short cut, a shallowing of our writing. We need to stop and think before we link – and make the link firmer and more understandable.

Deeper words, how do we fish for deeper words. The fisherwoman/man puts bait or lures on a hook and then places it into the water. I imagine myself putting my creative hook into a pool of culture. The words/books/myths are like fish swilling around in the water. They see the lure of my text and swim towards it – attracted by the colours, the shine- until they are hooked. I have to reel them in, crystallise them, make the connections clear enough to see so you can see it too

I pull up my text, oh wow, that is some fish/book, it is part of a genre/species, yet it is my very own catch of the day.

So now if I was to think more deeply about fish I might free wheel through culture, to the greedy fisherman’s wife, who tells him to keep asking the magic fish for more and more until they are left with nothing. Or I might think of stories of mammals of the sea like Moby Dick, or Flipper and a cartoon my children and I recently read which said – ‘I am sorry it just won’t work out I am a mammal and you are a fish.’ and I might keep working with these ideas, or start trawling through google, and my bookshelves for more stories of fish.

Yes, stories of Gods and Godesses, disguised as fish, and holding the answer to the universe. And I might come across stories of arks and so on and then when my mind is completely blown away by all this intertextuality I might take a deep breath and write something.


Lucas Luna is the first catch
of my eight year old
but he could hold the answer
to the questions of the universe
somewhere inside him

Maybe he saw the bait of the young man
and said to himself I will be a story
for you to tell your children in the future
I will be a memory

Lucas Luna could be a character
of a dream a fish that was once a man
and said thankyou for not eating me
now I will bring you luck and wealth

Or Lucas Luna could simply be the first
catch of a young boy
who used to hate fishing.

Image 2: Girl Fishes


C’mon fish take a bite

Stop following the lure all night

It’s just not right.

My brother has his fish

Not big enough for a dish

But he has his wish.

I am a lonely fisher girl

I long to see you take a whirl

on the line.

Fine, don’t bite then,

but I will be waiting

I do have spine.

I will be waiting.

I will be waiting.

I will be waiting.

(c) June Perkins, words and image, all rights reserved.

First Appeared World Citizen Dreaming