Monday, 26 April 2010

Blossom and Books

Ashton Park’s rose garden has a path lined with cherry trees, and they’re all in full blossom right now. A slow stream of ice-pink confetti drifts down on all who stroll beneath.

On the park pond it’s serious nest-building time. A pair of coots are trying their best to attach a pile of sticks to the base of the fountain. That a 30’ jet of water streaks past their little heads is no deterrent. Maybe this is the same pair of coots who successfully built a nest there last year.

The dogs and I virtually had the beach to ourselves earlier today. Right now, they’re flaked out - one stretched out along the back of one couch, and other curled up on a tuffet facing the sunshine streaming in through the French doors.

Tonight is Riverside Writers’ AGM. Is our anthology ready to go to the printers tomorrow? Will the Chair, Secretary and Treasurer be re-elected (again)? And will we break our own record for the fastest AGM, which currently stands at ten minutes flat? Let’s be honest here - have you ever really, truly enjoyed an AGM? Usually they’re long-winded, self-congratulatory and interminably dull. Hence our determination to whistle through all the boring stuff ASAP.

Speaking of writing, I’ve not begun work on Fabian yet. First, I want to finish editing Rowan and Bethany Rose, and get all their changes/deletions/tweaks onto disc. Fabian’s plot is in my head - very loosely, anyway - and obviously his character is already champing at the bit for me to pay attention to him, but he’ll have to wait a few weeks. Otherwise, I’d have three unfinished projects on the go.

Mostly, I find myself deleting conversation. I tend to write too much conversation. Good dialogue should move the plot along in some way, however slight. When chit-chat appears on the page, it’s time to zap. It’s no good being precious about deleting lines or even, in one instance in Rowan, 50% of a conversation.

Some people hate editing their own work; they find it dull or they dislike the process of analysing the words on the page to weigh their value. I don’t feel this way at all. First drafts are bound to be flawed, and clearing away the rubble of unnecessary or weak words helps create a much stronger story.

Just because you write whilst sitting on your rump doesn’t give you an excuse to be lazy. (Unless you’re Arthur Rimbaud, who described himself in one his last poems as being “as lazy as a toad.”)

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