Author: sarah

Draft Season

The transformative relief of drafting is what I look forward to the most when writing: taking small ideas, making raw words, rewriting them over and over until the project finds its true self. The beginning of things is daunting. Everything else that comes after that is hard work and the part of writing I enjoy the most. Because this is the moment you find out what you and the novel are really made of. I’m in the middle of typing up several notebooks and am amazed at how my (still unfinished) first draft has both managed to retain original structure and intent and yet has completely obliterated itself. I had no idea the project wanted to be the shape it is becoming. Recently I ran a writing workshop and afterward I was asked if I find my first drafts embarrassing. Yes, sometimes I do. But mostly I’m just glad it exists. First drafts are not publishable. Most likely the next couple aren’t either. I’ve mostly kept what I have of the first draft to myself …

Photo Reel Night #2

Most times I never know why I’ve chosen something to photograph for my novel until after the fact. That intuition. These past weeks I’ve been in the gut of novel, that space where I only take things in and think only ‘yes’ and ‘no’: would my character do this? would air like this exist in my novel? Is this the texture of fear? Is this the longest night? Is this, is this, is this? Here are some answers intuition gave:

Give yourself the future: SLV

This afternoon I explored the no-public-access belly of the State Library of Victoria in Melbourne. From the basement where they keep rare books (among some of the absolute treasures were several copies of Milton’s Paradise Lost–none of which were a first edition, first print but were early editions ( i.e. second printing from 166something), to the conservation and preservation room, the elephant lift, to a walk on top of the library’s roof. I was in a state of nerdish awe. And at some stage I realised I’d tuned into smells and sounds, begun focussing on small corners and hidden things. I was writing something for the future, those stockpile thoughts. It was another reminder to keep with curiosity, to keep exploring, keep searching for new ways to present the past. Because to be open to experience is to give yourself a future. Give yourself something to write about. And so to the stockpile:

Windows, Light, Memory #1

Tonight I was supposed to be spending time with the third project but I could only think of the novel-in-progress, of one character in particular who keeps reinventing himself every time I want to write something new. All his ways of speaking, his voice the only thing I’m capable of writing at the moment. He never leaves me. Better to leave words before they get you down. There was only one thing to do: I went into the night, went to find the things the corner of my eye might hold onto the longest, hoped some pattern would emerge so I could find my way back to the project/task at hand, tune into a voice I hadn’t been able to find for a few weeks. After 30 minutes, a pattern: light and window, people living just beyond eyesight. The way dark leads you to memory and repetition. That’s when I heard the woman’s voice, the character that has evaded me for weeks. She was back. And she was thinking in memory, was living in them, …

The Dolphin: or how my tendency to procrastinate allowed me to distill random ideas and write a short story

I was on a writing retreat at Varuna attempting to finish another draft of the manuscript that would go on to become See What I Have Done when day four arrived and I lost the will to write another word from Lizzie’s point of view. I still had three days left of the retreat ahead of me. I needed a way to procrastinate without feeling guilt. One of the writer’s at the house was working on a short story collection and had told me, ‘Short stories are like the easiest thing to write.’ Sounds perfect, I thought. That’s exactly how I’m going to spend the rest of my time here at the house. Here’s a tip I’d like to share with you about short stories: they’re not easy. They are their own art form and can take just as long to write as a novel. Sure, you could write a 3,000 word story in a single sitting but to get it right, to make it look like magic-ease takes drafting and time. They’re not for …

Walk With Me

Another night of tracing paths for my characters: They walk, I walk. They live in shadows, I follow. And so. Here are the walks that are building a novel. Some are based in Melbourne, other scenes are character ‘memories’ of European cities. I don’t always like to give away too much of the interior of a work-in-progress but these are some of the images I’ve been staring at every day. Melbourne: 8:35 pm, Monday 19 February 2018 Prague: 3pm, 12 January 2018 Leipzig: 5 pm, January 2018 Berlin: close to 3:30 pm, January 2018 Berlin: the day before, 10 am. January 2018 Leipzig: 10 am, 2 January 2018 Melbourne: late afternoon, September 2017 Melbourne: mid morning, June 2017 Melbourne: late night, my house. Probably June, 2017 Melbourne: early morning, storm warning. My house, approx June 2017 On the way to Canberra, toward a mountain: probably noon, early January 2017. And this road. This road is Eleanor