Monthly Archives: February 2012
I don’t like to talk about my first manuscript; or I do. It’s a struggle because I get all reminisce-y; my words time to the bittersweet heartbeats, as if remembering that first boy you ever liked and who never liked you back. A farcical one-sided romance that was never going to be, and yet has such power over you.
Alright, it’s a little more mature than that. For starters, it’s a creation of mine, not some independent mind (… but then, all those painful romances are just mind creations too). I went through new things with that manuscript, made all the mistakes with it. Fumbled and faltered and fucked up plot, character and place. I treated him bad (and yeah, I’m going to anthropomorphise, get over it); he treated me bad right back. We didn’t know what we were doing, and that was the nexus of the fun, and the frustration.
It was the first time I wrote with such abandon, such a pulse coursing through an idea that just would not manifest itself as a readable story. It was my first experience of being critiqued (savagely so); then tipping up my chin and going back, determined to make it work. It took me through two rewrites, closer, closer, but no closure. Twice to the Hachette manuscript development program, once on the longlist, once going all the way. I was advised to put it aside. And to be honest, as I sat with that manuscript, we both knew it had come to time apart. We were just hurting each other. I’ve had three other manuscripts since; long-term relationships. And a dozen flings with shorts and flash. And all benefitted from the lessons of the first time round. Less unexpected, less burred edges. Far less raw.
And yet, the lure. That first foray sits uneasily unfinished. A relationship not taken to its natural conclusion. Passion unadmitted. An adventure suspended. And I do not abide those. I tell myself that when enough time has passed; when I’ve forgotten the heat of those words, when I’ve accepted some things do not work out, when I’ve moved on … But I don’t believe those things will happen. Passion unfinished can be tamped and smothered, but the embers only slumber. This year, I suspect, I will scratch aside all that heaped ash and breathe the oxygen filled breath that will bring another round to life. And from here, we will start again:
It begins this night.
Even as she runs, Demisma twists the torn paper scrap about her fingers. As her arms pump, the sheet tears at the wind, flailing, trying to escape as she is. She is in a hallway, long and white. Her shoes squeak and scuff. She passes a vending machine, red as blood, then a plastic plant, grey with dust.
They are chasing her.
She crashes into a blind, silver end; doors close, her stomach sinks, going up; an elevator; half a moment to snatch the crumpled scrap and read. Familiar, these words; from a text, torn from within the jacket. The rules of the universe. Secrets that she knows, and the customers never see …
(from The Q Line, fifth incarnation)
Ok, Bek says I’m next, and that she wants a kind of update/backstory of where things are at with my novel – ‘The Bothering’, so here goes:
I started The Bothering about three years ago, when I first met the wonderful women who were (unbeknownst to me at the time, of course) to become my Sistahs of the Pen, through the awesome QWC-run workshop series known as ‘Year of the Novel’, taught by the sistah who brought us all together – Dr Kim Wilkins. I mean – I literally STARTED it then – I had made no notes, no plans, I came in with no idea whatsoever. And I spent the next six months just making shit up off the top of my head … nothing different from my life beforehand apart from the fact I was being religious about it, for the first time in my life. I had a schedule, for goodness sake! And I was sticking to it, thanks to some serious arse-kicking from the sistahood (and other YON participants). Suddenly, my life-long dream of being a writer was finally turning into something more substantial.
This transformation was not without pain (still isn’t)! There’s something free and floaty about unfulfilled wishes and dreams. Something romantic. Idyllic. Wondrous. The reality of making the dream come true was something else altogether. I discovered what happens when you drop the drift and get your hands deep in the dirt of working words. It’s gritty and grimy. You frequently write total crap. You meet up with your self doubt and your arrogance and every frustratingly familiar personal trait in-between, EVERY single day. And you learn to shove it all aside and just keep writing.
And when it was finally done, and the cheers of the sistahs had died down, and the champagne bottle was empty … Year of the Edit (again with the marvellous Kim) began. And I learnt a new level of pain. And then after THAT, the first of many sistah-related miracles happened, when Kim gathered the seven of us together and said – hey, I like youse chicks, wanna be in a manuscript development group? To which we all replied – are you kidding? Hell yeah!
And a year or so and a couple of retreats later, I finally had something whole (though decidedly patchy, but not as flabby AND skeletal as it had been) and I knew my world and my characters so much more intimately. (I kind of hated them at that stage). And then I entered this patchy, very roughly edited something into the inaugural Allen and Unwin/QWC children’s literature manuscript development program. And I won a place! Wa-hoo! That was a bit over a year ago. I got some fantastic feedback from Eva Mills, one of the editors from A&U, and met some great people (including the very lovely Michael Gerard Bauer as mentor) and was thoroughly inspired to get the thing nailed and sent back to Eva for consideration within a couple of months. Life, of course, had other ideas, with some serious family heartbreak thrown into the mix right around that Xmas. The complete second draft ended up taking quite a bit longer than I’d planned (doesn’t it always?) but finally on September 2nd, 2011, I sent my precious baby off into the world. Where it has been ever since. I am now (ever so patiently) playing the waiting-game, and in the meantime, turning my hand to flash and short fiction, for something refreshingly, challengingly different. And spending far too much time whinging and venting to the sistahood inbetween times.
Yes, I thought Leonardo DiCaprio should have taken his shirt off in that movie too. Oh wait, sorry, I mean, welcome to the Inception of Our Blog.
Hello, my name is Rebekah and this is the first blog entry for Sisters of the Pen.
This blog came about after a discussion in my writers group about exposure in the Big Wild World and Creating Platforms for Our Craft in the Big Wild World. Okay, I made that up. This blog came about after I realised I didn’t want to blog alone and begged my sisters to join me. Which they all agreed would be an awesome-pants adventure.
A bit about myself: at this point in time, I’ve submitted a contemporary fantasy to the Penguin’s Monthly Catch and while my fingers are crossed, my hopes are set at an appropriate level. Curse that flicker of hope!
For my in progress writing projects, I’m currently working on a werewolf biker love story and hoping to have it completed in the next couple of months. Research has involved watching 80’s biker movies with Charlie Sheen doing crack and giving Michael Marsden the crazy eye. To balance this, I am also watching werewolf movies like Blood and Chocolate, The Howling and Ginger Snaps 1 and 2.
Of course, then I realise I’m just watching movies and not writing.
Speaking of which, while I am technically writing now, this does not contribute to my diet of 500 words, so I shall now sign off, gird my loins and transport my mind far, far away.