Writing is rewriting

John Updike* once said, ‘Writing and rewriting are a constant search for what you are saying.’  As I’m in the throes of rewriting a story that will hopefully become an Aussie Chomp, and knowing I’m in for more with the chess novel, this is particularly apt.  Even with relatively short pieces, you have to have a clear idea about what your characters are doing and why, and to make sure everything evolves naturally from there.  At the moment it is a mystery to my readers as to why one of the characters is behaving the way she is, so I have to think about her life, her family, and her thoughts and feelings about herself before the story will work.  Even after so many novels and stories, I still need patient and insightful editors to tell me what’s missing – even though you’d think I’d have got the hang of it by now. 

*sighs, plods on*

Yesterday I did the first of a series of workshops with some very talented Year 10s at the School of Isolated and Distance Education.  I’ve set them a pile of homework, for which I hope they don’t hate me, aimed at getting them writing.  The technology is something else – we can all hear each other, they can show me their writing, they can highlight on the board, they can put their hands up, all without leaving our computers.  A bit different from when I did Distance Education in the mid 80s, when I got sent a pile of materials at the beginning of the year and then made my way through it.  Amazing, truly.

*He also said, ‘Sex is like money, only too much is enough.’   These days they’d send him to therapy.

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