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Drafting Through The Natural World

First drafts terrify me. I’m currently in the middle (at least I think it’s the middle!) of a very strange, half-dreamed, ill formed, urgent, naturish first draft of a new novel. And it’s coming along very slowly.

And it’s too ambitious for me and I don’t think I’m the right writer for this idea or story or characters. And yet. I know I should write it because it is actually too ambitious and is more than I bargained for. So here I am.

I’m prepared to share two things about the book with you:

1. that it’s a dual narrative family portrait spanning 30-40 ish years.

2. It is about a woman who takes a car trip with her child. Nothing is what it seems.

The working title is Blue Mountain. (You got 3. I’m generous like that!)

So back to this first draft. This week I’m currently researching and developing the first draft part by taking a writing residency. I’ve had many revelations about the novel and as terrible as the writing has been, ive made so much progress. I can’t wait to get into the meat of all the drafts that await me.

And the reason I’ve made so much progress is due to the walks I’ve been taking every day. I’m one of ‘those’ writers. You know the kind: fidgety, annoying, needs to walk out their thoughts, sees something along the way and thinks, ‘now that’s interesting. I wonder if…’ takes photos of it and then just stares at said photo for hours. I’m also desperately, heavily reliant on nature to help me write. And maybe not necessarily for all the reasons you might guess. Being on the residency reinforced a need for change of scenery to help recharge the creativity, let it make patterns and connections in a different environment. You don’t necessarily have to go far from home to do this but I think it’s a good idea to generally take yourself away from the usual park or street you walk down and try somewhere new. Your writing will thank you for it.

Here are some things I’ve seen this week which have given me a deeper understanding of what this book is actually about. I’m not ready to share the context just yet.

And bonus photo of a line or two from a bigger section I wrote after one of the walks


One final thing: I’m in the mountains and I feel ridiculously peaceful because of them.

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writer, observer, reader, procrastinator. My debut novel, See What I Have Done, published by Hachette (ANZ), Tinder Press (UK), Grove Atlantic (US), Piper Verlag (German), Editions Payot & Rivages (French), Hollands Diep (Dutch), Edizioni Piemme (Italian), GW Foksal (Polish), Palto Publishing (Turkish), MunhakDongne (Korean) SEE WHAT I HAVE DONE (Awards and Some Praise) WINNER OF THE ABIA LITERARY FICTION OF THE YEAR 2018 WINNER OF THE MUD LITERARY AWARD 2018 Longlisted for the Women's Prize for Fiction 2018 Shortlisted for the Indie Book Award for Debut Fiction 2018 Shortlisted for the Strand Critics Awards for Best First Novel Longlisted for the ABIA Matt Richell Award for New Writers 2018 For the originality of its voice and the power of its language and imagery, See What I Have Done deserves to be considered a Gothic classic - THE SATURDAY PAPER See What I Have Done is a meticulously researched and boldly imagined book that crackles with tension throughout. Schmidt's portrayal of Lizzie is haunting and complex, a deeply psychological portrait that forces the reader to question their preconceptions about what women are capable of - for better and worse. Both disturbing and gripping, it is an outstanding debut novel about love, death and the lifelong repercussions of unresolved grief. - The Observer Schmidt is a consummate storyteller whose account of the Borden murders is utterly compelling. - Australian Book Review Schmidt's writing is rich and confident, painting a vivid portrait of a household with something rotten at its core. It's a strong debut that promises much from an original and compelling new voice in Australian literature. - The Guardian There are books about murder and there are books about imploding families; this is the rare novel that seamlessly weaves the two together, asking as many questions as it answers. - Kirkus Reviews [An] unforgettable debut ... Equally compelling as a whodunit, 'whydunit,' and historical novel. - Publishers Weekly Heralds the arrival of a major new talent ... Nail-biting horror mixes with a quiet, unforgettable power to create a novel readers will stay up all night finishing. - Booklist This novel is like a crazy murdery fever dream, swirling around the day of the murders. Schmidt has written not just a tale of a crime, but a novel of the senses. There is hardly a sentence that goes by without mention of some sensation, whether it’s a smell or a sound or a taste, and it is this complete saturation of the senses that enables the novel to soak into your brain and envelope you in creepy uncomfortableness. It’s a fabulous, unsettling book. —Book Riot Eerie and compelling, Sarah Schmidt breathes such life into the terrible, twisted tale of Lizzie Borden and her family, she makes it impossible to look away. —Paula Hawkins, author of The Girl on the Train

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