Author: sarah

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 …

See What I Have Done Q & A: Foyles Edition

I’ve had the good fortune of being asked many questions about See What I Have Done lately so I thought I would share some of them with you in the next few posts.  Critical reflection can be a tricky thing. When I was writing the book I wasn’t always aware of what I was doing and often felt I was writing through intuition alone. It was foolish to think this but there you have it. If you’d asked me why I had made some of the narrative choices I had I’m not sure I would’ve been able to tell you.  But distance is the thing that affords hindsight. Since the book has come out I’ve been forced to reflect on process on a different level and as difficult as it has been (I still don’t know why I did particular things) it’s had a surprising flow on effect on my current novel in progress: I write with that same intuition but question myself more regularly, seem to have developed a better bullshit detector with things …

Look Up

My mind is a rush. For weeks I’ve divided days into categories: See What I Have Done and Blue Mountain. I find it difficult to generate new scenes or ideas for Blue Mountain on any day I need to deal with Lizzie. It’s emotionally and mentally tiring to have to deal with all those characters while they congregate in the same place. Which is frustrating because right now I need to be working on both.  I moved on from See What I Have Done around August last year. Although I was knee deep in edits and still had proof reads to look forward to, I’d fallen in love with a new novel that germinated from a strange dream I’d had years before and which had been waiting for me to come back to it when Lizzie was done (yes, I’m aware I’m beginning to hang a lot of respsonbility on dreaming for writing but whatever). Suffice to say, I got shitty when the Bordens interrupted my dates with Blue Mountain. But on we’d go and …

Bad Days At Work

As much as you want ideas to turn into good then great prose, some days and weeks it just doesn’t happen. Last week was particularly bad. All that turgid writing. I was working on a new section, my characters going down paths so completely wrong in tone and emotion that I felt I’d lost them, that I no longer had control. I’d had bad periods of writing before but this was something else. The things I told myself: this was proof that I was a weak writer, that I really don’t have anything whatsoever to contribute to the world of literature. I told myself to walk away now while the going was good. No one need to know about this failed novel, you imposter. Maybe allow a more talented writer to find the seed of this novel and turn it into gold. I realised after a few days that the problem was that I wasn’t connecting with anything that was happening on the page. And if I wasn’t connecting, what hope would the next draft …

Small Things That Happened Last Week

A small snapshot of last week: My publisher sent me a proof of Sally Abbott’s debut ‘Closing Down’ I returned to Blue Mountain and wrote more scenes for one of the many difficult characters who’ll live in the fictional town of Winton (yes, there are Winton’s that exist in Australia but not quite like the Schmidt version of Winton). I also started notebook 4. Writing longhand. That shit really slows things down. But I love it.  I saw these boys riding their bikes, heard them talk footy, tv and school, heard them sibling-tease each other. Old young friends. I hope when they grow up they don’t shed this particular skin of theirs.  That’s it. There’s nothing else. I was pretty much writing the rest of the time.

When Emma Borden Became a Narrator 

Previously I told you about Bridget’s inclusion in See What I Have Done as a narrator, told you the way your manuscript changes over time can be a miraculous thing. This beast of words that has shape shifted so much over the years has been able to adapt, in various degrees of success, to whatever ‘new visions’ I had for it.  I think I’ll continue the theme of process and drafting, especially as the Australian publishing date of See What I Have Done draws nearer (and as I try to wade through the thicket of mush that is the new manuscri ptwhich is making me have all kinds of self doubt). This post is one of a many I’ll probably do about Emma Borden, Lizzie’s older sister. I’m somebody’s older sister and so I thought even on a loose base level, I might be able to identify and draw out something from Emma, explore  that kind of relationship to a sibling, the way you become a protector.  In a notebook dated 29 December 2012 I …