Sunday, April 27, 2008

First Drafts


Meet Alvin, who ought to have been named Arnie, because he is one lean, mean, killing machine.

This week:

I’ve actually started putting together a book proposal for my non-fiction book. Done some research for my next article for Oklahoma Living Magazine.
And submitted two short stories to two different short story contests.

The weather here has been all over the place this week, too. We’ve had more storms, and some sun with temperatures in the high 70’s F, which is great growing weather, so everything is looking really green again. Today, though, it’s back in the 50’s and will get close to freezing tonight, (more of the same forecast for tomorrow), which is not good news for our vegetable plots. We had hoped to get our tomatoes planted this weekend, but that has had to be put on hold for a little while longer. For more information on our garden visit Mick’s blog http://oklahomegrownveg.blogspot.com/

Mick and I have also splashed out and bought a new digital camera, after humming and arring about it for weeks, (did I mention Mick’s from Yorkshire, so what else can you expect?) Our old camera was a museum piece, and the picture quality left a lot to be desired. Seeing all the beautiful photographs on this blog http://uphilldowndale.wordpress.com/ finally clinched the matter. Whether I'll ever figure out how to use it is another matter, the instruction manual is bigger than the camera!

And now more writerly advice for my granddaughter, and anyone else who’s interested..

When you set out to write a book or a story, don’t even think about getting it published, just get the story down on paper/computer. And don’t worry too much about spelling, grammar or punctuation, you can go back and fix these when you do your second (3rd, 4th etc.) draft. The important thing is to get the story told. Stephen King, in his excellent book, On Writing calls this process, "writing with the door shut."

The revising, re-writing, and polishing of the prose all come later. All writers will tell you that they never write anything worth publishing the first time around, and it often takes several drafts before they have a novel or story they are reasonably happy with. Though I don’t think any writer is ever completely satisfied with what they do, they always feel there’s room for improvement, but there comes a point when you just have to stop tinkering and tweaking and send it out into the world.

I also have a confession to make. I haven’t been sticking to my own advice. I’ve been critiquing my granddaughter’s work, and she has been going back and revising it. But, that said, her book is still progressing, despite the revisions, she’s up to over 30,000 words now, and I think that’s bloody admirable for a fifteen year old who has all her school work to do as well.

Thought for the Week

"If you start to revise before you've reached the end, you're likely to begin dawdling with the revisions and putting off the difficult task of writing." ― Pearl S. Buck

2 comments:

BritGal' Sarah said...

Hi Janet,

Glad you found me out here in the rural NW of Okieland :-) We may not share a love of handbags but we do for cats and gardening - oh and I was born in Rochdale and my family are all in Lancs!

I will be popping in and out to see you from now on.

Janet Brett said...

We were almost neighbours in Lancs, I'm from Colne! Small world, init?

I used to go to Rochedale quite regularly in the late 70's & early 80's to watch the stock car racing.

Pop by any time you like, I'll put the kettle on.