Tag Archives: Creative writing

Finished – for now

I wrote two very special words today:

The End

At ¬†1:30pm BST I completed the third draft of my book and for a few moments I sat in front of the screen, those two words glowing in front of me, giggling like a child. It has taken much longer to reach this point than first thought. Writing the first draft had been a joy, the culmination of a lifetimes worth of pent up creativity. Editing it wasn’t. It was only after having read it through for the first time that I realised just how shitty* it was and how much work I had to do. During the following months I felt like one of those victorian flower collectors, hacking through a dead wood jungle before glimpsing the odd hidden gem. Darlings were slaughtered as I discarded over 18,000 words and re-wrote the majority of the rest. I played around with the structure of the story and sharpened the dialogue until I metaphorically cut my fingers as I typed.

The third draft was more fun. I was able to enjoy the book, smoothing out rough edges and adding touches as I followed each character’s individual story arc. While honing the third draft, I realised how similar my writing process was to an old art program I sometimes watched as a child in the late 1970’s. The artist was an old man with a beard, who always painted with a palette knife, which seemed rather odd to me at the time. If his style was unique, so was his colour scheme; his paintings were made up by browns of all hue with the odd touch of black or white for contrast. At first, he would slap on the background, smearing oils across canvass with broad sweeps of his blade. Then, he would block in his main subjects: the outline of a house or (as was usually painted according to my memories) a horse. Finally, he would gently touch in the detail, picking out highlights with knife’s tip; the glint of an eye or shadow under fetlock. This is how I see my writing process (though hopefully with a broader spectrum of colours and a less equine theme). Some people start small and get broader as time goes on. I’m the reverse and for the past few weeks I’ve enjoyed adding those small touches.

So the book has been (or in some cases will be shortly) sent to my test readers for first feedback. It is the first time anybody other than myself has seen what I’ve written, but should hopefully reassure my wife that I’ve not been sitting in the office typing “all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.” I’m both nervous and excited, because even though I’ve written a book, within the next few weeks I should get an indication as to whether I can actually write.

*Thank you Anne Lamott for this phrase, it helped a lot.

Creative writing courses

My book writing has slowed a little the past couple of days while I look after my 16 month old who has his first case of man flu (which as any man will tell you, can be deadly). While this has temporarily slowed progress on my first draft, in the small snatches of time where he doesn’t need attention I have been able to do a couple of things that I’ve been putting off.
The first is more research on the more technical aspects of the novel. I now have at least a basic understanding of the technology behind In vitro meat and human growth hormone, a phrase I never thought I’d ever write.
Secondly I’ve been able to have a look at a couple of free creative writing courses. The two I am looking at are the Open University’s Creative writing – Fiction¬†(also available online here – thanks Jo) and Creative Writing: A master class, both available on iTunesU which has always been part of iTunes but now been updated with it’s own app in the latest iOS 6 release for iPhone and iPad. I’ll review each in detail separately in later blogs but I really do recommend you to look at them purely on the strength of their many interviews with famous authors, all talking about different aspects of their craft. What comes across is that there are many different ways to approach writing and that you need to find what works for you. At the same time there are certain areas you need to think through carefully before starting off and each Author provides ideas to help you think each stage through properly. And they’re free! So what’s stopping you from having a look?