|Look! I made you guys a gif. Aren’t I clever?|
I’m not exaggerating when I say I write almost constantly. Blogging and the occasional bout of one liner composition only forms the tiniest part my total output. This is about some of the other stuff. Sam Cooney, globe trotter and Connect Four player extraordinaire, asked me to write more posts about the writing process and the creation of material. That’s what this is. Plus its got lots of pretty pictures. And I hate blogging with pictures. So you peeps better enjoy it. Or else.
|Collages and location maps
where I’m supposed to be sleeping.
I love writing fiction. I think I get more joy from it than from anything else. What I usually write is short stories, usually about a thousand words long. That’s short short in the scheme of things but its a length I feel comfortable with. The idea of writing something extended like a (deep breath) novel, carries an irrational fear for me. And yet I think maybe that’s what I’ve spent the last two weeks doing. I can’t tell you a lot about the work itself because it might never see the light of day, and certainly not for a long time yet. But I will tell you how I came to be writing it.
|Lunging at things with textas.|
A couple of years ago I wrote a collection of short stories for my HSC. I gained a lot of things from the process- discipline, a good mark and two characters. I’ve had this pair in my head ever since. About a year ago, on a train in Spain, I started writing little scenes featuring them. Over the course of 2010 that document grew (mostly on trains) to be quite a few thousand words.
Meanwhile I won the Heading North Short Story Award. As part of the prize I’ve been offered a mentorship with Brisbane writer Kristina Olsson. I meet up with her in Yamba about three weeks ago (which was amazing). She’d read my 9,000 word ramble of scenes and snatches of dialogue. And she liked it. I came home inspired and invigorated. I’ve been writing ever since.
I’d forgotten what a hands on process writing is for me. I can’t just open a Word document and go. The first thing I did after seeing Kristina was buy paper, sticky tape and textas. Why? So I could tape the paper to my wall and draw all over it. My writing process involves a lot of pacing up and down and lunging at things with textas while muttering to myself.
|Yes, that’s my bed again.|
Plus I make a lot of mess. More mess than normal which, for me, is saying something. Having stuff on the computer is one thing but its so…static. And ideas aren’t. You can’t scribble all over a digital file or stick things to it or chop it all up into bits and shuffle it around your bedroom floor. Plus there’s something very nice about writing free hand. About putting ink down on paper. You fill a lot more pages for a start.
|I decorated my notebook with a ravioli ad.
It says ‘happily surrender.’
I’ve carried a notebook around with me everywhere lately (a specific notebook for this not the general one I usually have on my person at all times). I’ll scribble scenes as they come to me. Maybe something will trigger a string of dialogue. Other times stuff just pops into my head. That’s kind of how I write- stuff floats through my brain and I write it down. Annoyingly its been doing most of its floating late in the evenings lately so instead of sleeping I lie awake for ages scribbling intensly. I’ve almost filled the small brown paper Moleskin. I don’t know how many words it is, because I’m a long way behind in typed it up but there’s a lot there. The document itself stands at 14, 178. That’s not a lot in “novel” terms (the average books is at least 50 000) but its more than I’ve ever written on one thing.
|Collaging is also high on mess.|
One of the other things I did this time (and have mucked with in the past) is to make collages. I get stacks of magazines and go at them with scissors. Its a sort of meditative process. I look for pictures which, for one reason or another, remind me of the characters I’m trying to write. Then I sort them all into piles and glue them together. They give you a visual idea of the mood. I’ve done this whole thing twice now. I have collages for most of the characters, for the location, one about clothes and a few that represent specific relationships.
There’s another big question that goes with all of this. Why?
I have imaginary friends. These characters are very, very real to me. Writing isn’t me working toward a goal, its more about spending time with these people in a world I wish was real. They make me laugh. Does this sound weird to you? If you’re not a writer yourself then this might all sound like madness. And you know what? It probably is.
But its a wonderfully fun sort of madness.
|You’re intrigued now aren’t you? Good. You can all buy seven copies of the book.|
PS- I’m going to Canberra tomorrow for Heywire. I’m going to be blogging throughout. So look forward to a week long special of Adventures in rural-youth-issues Land. Trust me. It’ll be fun..