Wednesday, 4 February 2009

Flap flap flap

Anybody else hear that flapping noise? Look, up in the sky! Is it a bird? Is it a plane? Is it a guy wearing his underpants on the outside? No, it’s just Baby Duck leaving the nest.

Yes, my baby started school on Monday. I didn’t even get a goodbye kiss. He kept asking if it was time for him to line up yet. Once the bell went he was off like a shot, barely remembering to wave as he disappeared into his classroom.

So far so good. He seems quite happy to keep going back, which is the main thing. The house is very quiet without him, although the Carnivore makes enough noise for three people, so I’m not exactly lonely.

I have spent my new-found writing time revising a short story I wrote before Nano last year. Today I finished scribbling all my corrections on the hard copy and typed them in to the computer. There was a lot of red pen, with many crossings-out and new bits inserted.

As I worked through the pages I noticed something interesting – though some parts were buried in a storm of red pen, most of the dialogue was untouched. I’ve always felt that dialogue was one of my strengths as a writer, but it was interesting to see it demonstrated in such a concrete way.

Or maybe I just suck at revising. It’s entirely possible I’m just rearranging the deckchairs as the ship goes down. I do find it difficult to take a long enough view, even after leaving a story for months. I worry that I’m only fiddling at the sentence level when I should be looking at the much bigger picture: do I need this scene/character? Have I come up with the best possible answers for the story questions? For that matter, have I even asked the right questions?

Eek. So many things to consider. So many balls to keep in the air at once. Did I mention I suck at juggling too?

What’s your favourite part of writing? What are you best at? Or worst at?


  1. Welcome to the best years of the rest of your life - you have your ducklings and your time to write too.

    Dialogue is my worst talent, and my best, I don't know, probably convoluted character relationships - no wait, that is a problem, not an asset. Oh, maybe plots or world building.

    I took the Two-year novel course at Forward Motion, but fell out after the first year when a family member became very ill...

    Congratulations on all your new writing time and don't let the carnivore eat the manuscript :)

  2. Plots or worldbuilding would be handy things to be good at! My plotting tends to be a bit pedestrian. One of the guys in my crit group is always saying "yeah, nicely written, but where's the twist?" about my stories, but my brain doesn't seem "twisty" enough.

    Shame you had to drop out of the course. I keep hearing about Forward Motion. Is it a good site?

  3. Oh yes, FM gets me writing when I think I just can't - challenges, prompts, on-line classes, critique groups, support groups, and all free. Many Aussies there too, and people from Canada, England, Germany - from all over really. Very enjoyable company. Inspiring.

  4. I'm very good at plotting but worldbuilding has been a pain in the *** until I started Holly Lisle's "How to Think Sideways". I'm also very good at revising but sometimes, I need the help of my best friend to find the places where I forgot to "explain" (aka Show) things important to the plot.

    And I love it that my kids are all in (pre-)school now. It gives me so much freedom to write and the house doesn't get half as dirty. ;-)

  5. Yay for school and preschool!

    Re the "explaining". I have the opposite problem to you -- I'm so afraid my readers won't "get it" that I beat them about the head with too much explanation.

    -- Sigh -- Still, I guess if it was easy, everyone would be writing novels.

  6. The best part is always the writing - for me, anyway.

    As for the twist? I think of the worst possible thing I can do to the character... and do it! Mwahaha!

    Like Panda, I'm an FMer, too. I did the two year novel course and found it terrific. But it's not just about the courses (although I love the story-a-day marathon in May), it's the help, the camaraderie, the support from others at the same level of writing.

  7. Story a day?? Sounds like Nano on steroids. Right up your alley, in other words, Jaye!

  8. Nano on steroids. I like that, and you are so totally... right!