Monday, December 21, 2009
The Evolution of a Novel
My nine month old son has just started eating solids. He’s the messiest eater I’ve ever seen. He gets food every where, in his hair, down his back, on the high chair and all around. He likes blowing raspberries with it too. So even I will often get sprayed in the face. I would say, only about ten percent of his meal actually reaches it’s intended destination. Basically, when he’s done eating, he needs a bath.
I have this giant industrial sized plastic bib, but it is wholly inadequate. The other day, I was thinking wouldn’t it be great if they made one with sleeves and a hood. Then I realised such a bib does exist. It’s called rain coat. Guess the jokes on me.
Sometimes, for me, writing is a bit like feeding my child. It’s hit and miss. I know what I want out of scene, or the kind of feeling that needs to be generated in a reader by the end of a chapter. But most of the time I don’t quite hit bullseye the first time round. Editing is a huge part of my writing process. I spend almost as much time editing as I do writing the book. Sometimes my mistakes are obvious - like mashed pumpkin up the nose or custard behind the ears. Other times, it takes me a while to have a “rain coat moment” - that solution that’s been staring me in the face the whole time. My critique group, WINK is especially good at pointing out words that are in the wrong place, like stewed apple on the kitchen floor.
By the time, I hand over a manuscript to an editor, it’s a lean, mean polished machine. You’d never guess the terrible truth. A lot like my son, who is an absolute angel whenever my mother comes to visit. So much so, that all my complaints go unheeded.
“I don’t believe you,” my mother says, nuzzling her grandson’s cheek. “He would never do anything like that.”