Errors and omissions excepted

by Suw on April 23, 2006

Due to technical difficulties, such as the shops being shut on Monday morning when T'Other and I had a scrap of time to go shopping for my birthday present, I didn't get my Moleskine until yesterday, but to make up for the delay, T'Other bought me a nice (and reasonably priced) Lamy pen. We can't afford the really expensive Lamy pens just yet, but this one writes nicely and will do me for now. I'll buy a posh one with the advance from this novel…
Har har har.
Anyway, I've just written the opening chapter. It'll be a very short chapter, I suspect, but it's written. Shite, but written. Nearly illegible in places, but written. I don't know how many words it is, because I can't be arsed to count, but maybe that's a good thing. The word count is an ongoing obsession whenever I am writing, and I'm really not convinced that that's healthy. I should be obsessing about telling the story I want to tell, not about how many words it's taking me to tell it.
For better or for worse, I am basing this novel on the script I wrote a couple of years back, and my aim is to rewrite a page of script per day. I'm finding that I am erring towards writing in the present tense, and I'm really not sure if that's going to work or not, long term, but it's hard to read something in the present and then write the same thing in the past. The couple of pages in my notebook seem to swing between tenses, which makes for uncomfortable reading (well, no more so than my hammy, crappy style), but then, this is a first draft: eaoe.
I haven't written anything long-hand like this for years. I think the last time I did it was in 97-ish, when I was working on a really crappy vampire novel. I would write on the tube, in mirror-writing because I didn't want anyone reading over my shoulder. Of course, I can't easily read my own mirror-writing now, so in order to read it I'd have to scan and flip each page. I am pretty damn sure it wouldn't be worth it, though.
Anyway, if I can manage to rewrite a page of script per day, then I'll be done in 109 days, so some time in August.
I repeat: Har har har.

Anonymous April 24, 2006 at 12:23 am

As someone who's now 76,860 words into a commissioned biography (not my favoured type of writing, but hey, it pays the bills), the best advice I can give is this:
1. The art of writing, someone whom I can't recall now once said, is the art of applying the seat of the pants to the seat of the chair. In other words, persistence pays.
2. Let it flow. Don't worry about word count or style or anything at the beginning. That's what rewrites are for. 🙂
And those are my sage words for the day… erm, evening.

Anonymous April 24, 2006 at 7:55 am

Yeah, I am trying to ignore the desire to worry about these sorts of things but… well… it is tricky. I know full well that writing is rewriting, and that the art of writing is to bloody well get on with it, but y'know. It's sometimes simpler to worry about these things than to put pen to paper. I'll continue to try though and see how it goes.
Meantime, good luck with your biography. Is it of anyone we would have heard of?

Anonymous April 24, 2006 at 9:54 am

My current writing project is currently languishing in a folder on my hard disk, where it has sat since the brief enthusiasm that started it. It'll probably sit there for a similar amount of time as the last writing project did on my last laptop. Ie, still there, still unfinished, on a computer that's no longer usable.

Anonymous April 24, 2006 at 10:40 am

I've done exactly the same thing when adapting screenplays for convential narrative. If you want an example of how present tense can be done and done well, check out any of John Rickards' books. It seems a bit weird and gimmicky to begin with, but it reads fine once you get into it.
What is weird is actually writing the book long hand. I write lots of notes that way, but writing the actual book without going via a keyboard? Surely you have a gizmo that saves you having to do that?

Anonymous April 24, 2006 at 3:59 pm

Oh yeah, writing it out longhand is definitely strange. Really very strange. I am a bit dislexic so I have a hard time with handwriting anyway. But what convinced me that I wanted to do it that way was seeing the original draft of Alice in Wonderland at the British Library. I thought 'If I do this on a computer, there will never be a first draft'. The other thing is that it stops me checking the word count, and stops me revising and editing as I go along.
I wonder if it will change my writing style. I think this will end up sparse on details, which is possibly not how it would come out if I typed it. I'm not so verbose in longhand cos it's too much like hard work.

Anonymous April 26, 2006 at 1:33 pm

Erm… probably not, I must say. It's of Margaret Norrie, who was the first female senator from Nova Scotia. A remarkable woman, actually, who deserves to be written about: she was ahead of her time in a lot of ways. Taught biology at Mount Allison University in the 1920s & 30s, married a gold-mining engineer by the name of J. P. Norrie & moved to northwestern Quebec, ran for a seat in the Nova Scotia legislature later on, the first woman to do so. But there I go, rambling about my subject when I ought to be actually writing the book!

Anonymous November 2, 2006 at 12:58 am

Margaret Norrie was the stepmother of my mother in law, who currently is alive and lives in Menlo Park, CA. She was on of four children of JP Norrie and his first wife, who died probably about 1926-28. Marge was a teacher of on of the four older children and she was visiting when she JP, they fell in love, married and had four more children, on of who is Margaret Norrie McCain.

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