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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 …
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 …
First attempts at your novel are almost never right. The second and third attempt doesn’t fair much better but it gets closer. Everyone has false starts but the point is to write those false starts one word after the other and build on that, see what you can make of it. You can’t be proud of something if you never write it in the first place. You also can’t be proud of it if you don’t revise or reimagine. At least, this is how I feel. But beginning’s are daunting. Every time I start something new I have the same feelings and thoughts: I panic I won’t finish it, I fear the ugly work that will come, I worry I won’t get better as a writer, and there’s always little voice that tells me ‘You’re not good at this. Give up now. You’ve nothing to offer.’ I both dread and embrace the beginning of a new project. But then I start. I’m very stubborn. I hate being told I can’t do something (especially when it’s …
Maybe I need to take this blog up a notch and actually post on a regular basis. I won’t always have something to say but there’s always something I’ve seen that I can share with you. I’ve just returned from the US and this particular trip will forever be special to me. I was there because of See What I Have Done. I never imagined that this novel that I thought of giving up on so many times would literally take me to the other side of the world. There’s something to be said for a healthy dose of stubbornness and persistence…and characters that never let you go. Here are some photos I took while there:
I don’t like to overthink my writing habits too much but music is very important to me both during a writing session and after. For See What I Have Done I listened to the same songs (adding very few to the playlist) for eleven years. It’s time again to live in an aural loop until a book is complete. Here is a small sample of music for Blue Mountain that I will be listening to until it becomes a skin, the tip of a pen: Below is a very small selection of songs I like listening to after a day of writing. They change all the time (unlike the loop). This week I listened to:
I often forget I should regularly post to this blog. I’m working on a new post about Lizzie Borden and writing history ( I figured rather than my usual ramblings, I should, you know, plan a post ) but felt like adding some photos here today. I’m in my composting and early writing phase of my new novel and that has led me to be drawn to particular images as I walk around and explore. All of these are foundations for theme and aesthetic but may not necessarily turn up in the novel in quite the way you imagine. WARNING: Some of these photos are of dead animals I came across while walking and may not be your thing.
In the lead-up to my child’s birth, I’d set myself the task to finish yet another draft of my manuscript and send it out to a publisher. I had already written five, six or more drafts over seven years about the Lizzie Borden case. Now that I was pregnant the current drafting felt different, urgent: I had convinced myself that if I didn’t finish it then and there I never would. Writer friends who were parents warned me that once the baby came, I’d have no time for anything else. The brain would no longer have the capacity to move beyond itself. I may not even know who I was.
First there were pigeons, now half eaten pears (Tinder Press, UK). There’s nothing like rotting fruit to set a scene
I’ll write more about this at another stage but for now, this is the Australian cover of SEE WHAT I HAVE DONE (Hachette 2017) and it’s a thing of beauty. It was designed by the amazingly talented Josh Durham over at Design by Committee