Transition Girl

Why transition girl?... Best answered by a quote from the Iliad....."The soul was not made to dwell in a thing; and when forced to it, there is no part of that soul but suffers violence."

Saturday, February 25, 2012

the moments of self-doubt

I am over half way into writing my fourth book and still I wonder if the approach I have taken with this novel will be accessible as a story. I finished writing the fourth scene of chapter seven today - between the excessively long hours at work and the unbearable heat - I am not entirely sure how I managed it.

There is really only one place I can be when it is over 35 degrees outside - third day running - dry brittle heat. My study is the coolest place in my house - only place that does not need artificial cooling though I do sometimes wish it was a bit more bracing cold in there like a meat cool room. I am done writing for the weekend and just want to chill for a while.

It is my dedicated space. It is where the magic happens. When I am not procrastinating. When I am not carrying the laptop down to Torquay beach (though that only happens in the middle of winter when I want to remind myself that my life long aspiration is to become a beach hermit).

The Penitentiary focussed on the mystery that was a group of people without memory finding out who they were. The drafted sequel, The Crusades, focusses on the action that follows the mystery revealed. The currently being drafted prequel, The Fall, focusses on how the mystery came to pass in the first place. That is the over-arching story arc without given away any of the story.

The aspect of the prequel drafting that leads me to constant self-doubt is wondering if the approach I have taken to tell the story will be accessible to readers. It is a story squarely emphasising what goes on inside the heads of the main protagonists. What they are thinking as much as what they say and do.

I am attempting to present the complex nuances of the difference between thoughts and spoken language, subtext, context, literal meaning, intended meaning and cultural understanding. The words we say and do not mean. The actions we do that reveal what we really feel. All of it is brutal. The disengagement of key protagonists is intended to be stark. They keep secrets from each other and, in doing so, escalate the conflict between them unwittingly.

There is a lot of the thoughts of the protagonists in the text. I wonder if it is too much. I want to pick apart their motivations, what drives them to act the way that they do. It is fascinating to me, just not sure if others will appreciate it as much as I do.

I guess only time will tell if this fourth book will appeal to any audience. First test will be what my editor thinks of it. And then the test readers.

Soon it will be March and I still have five and a half chapters to write. Many more things to distract me in the coming months, too. Malthouse theatre play, the Wild Duck, with thespian Ewan Leslie the one-man theatrical tour de-force to delight me with his gravitas. The Melbourne International Comedy festival to lift me back up over several weeks after that. And plenty of debaucherous activity in between with old fabulous friends and a new friend who seems as curious about the "what if" questions as I am. This fire horse is galloping into wild chaos that will make for some fine inspiration in the coming months.

Perhaps enough to erase my moments of self-doubt.

Saturday, February 04, 2012

the halfway milestone

Just finished writing chapter 6 of the prequel, roughly 70,000 words written. All the key characters are set up for the conflict that will take them through the journey that is the second half of the story. (And, of course, the title of the book - "the Fall" - will be explained!) I am very satisfied to have made it this far and I am now heavily invested in finishing the journey.

Notwithstanding the above milestone being reached, I am finding the drafting of this book the hardest of all the books that make up the Panopticon series. Perhaps it is writer's fatigue generally, perhaps I am just tired of this story and these characters, perhaps I am finding writing part time exhausting when I already have a demanding day job that is draining of itself.

It is a source of frustration because I know, given it is a prequel, where I need to end the story (eg characters' fates) and all the key markers in the plot from start to end. These constraints make me feel a bit like I am in a brown paper bag, pushing to break out of it to breathe more freely. The writing is less dynamic because I cannot head off onto a tangent to explore a new/different story sub-plot if the characters' motivations suggest it is a path worth exploring. Less exploration makes the writing process a bit too disciplined for my tastes.

I should stop complaining. I have reached a major milestone and that is worth celebrating. I am refreshed after a 10 day break from the day job, and returning to that mayhem is only a day away.