A little oasis of time

by | Apr 4, 2010

As a full time employee, the joy of Easter is not about religious significance, although as a member of a family full of Catholics and having grown up with flurries of church attendance, I’m not altogether insensible to this. No, to me a clump of public holidays means some time to get some serious writing done.

This brings with it more or less equal portions of joy and pain. In relation to the first, the sheer joy of writing never leaves me: it is a kind of meditation, of time out from the clamour of obligation, of the pleasure of making stuff up, mind, world and fingers-on-keyboard mystically linked. The painful part is always: is it any good? Am I going to have to rewrite this (again)? Why couldn’t I have written Tender Morsels? Or Liar? Or any other loved book that is already in book form?

The other thing about writing that dements me is how very much of it is made up of rewriting, mainly because I mostly fail to get a manuscript right in the first proper draft. The number of dead-ends and false starts/middles/ends I have unwittingly sent my plot/characters/novels down are legion. I like to think that this is because I am so pushed for time that I don’t have time to hear the gears grinding (as Margo Lanagan wonderfully puts it) before it’s too late and I’ve been foot to the floor all the way down the aforementioned cul de sacs until I skid to a halt in front of the wall I should have seen from the turnoff. But the truth is probably that this is a very annoying but apparently inevitable part of my writing process.

I mention this because I am rewriting holus bolus one of the characters from the virginity novel (as yet untitled – nothing quite fits yet. Any (more) suggestions?) As I said to the Bunbury ECU students I met a few weeks back, it’s rare that I write a novel in which I don’t start off by sending a character down the emotional salt mines, before realising that the narrative has disappeared down the same hole.

One day, I just might learn, and save myself a pile of grief. It’s not looking likely.

On a more earthy note, we finally have some rain that is not in the form of flash flooding, or disguised as panel-denting hunks of hail. Reason for rejoicing indeed!

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