Sally’s First Post
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.