Progress on novel 3 goes slowly, combined with checking the proofs of Cold Light and planning a series of poetry workshops. And I’ve been reading! Joyce Carol Oates: My Sister, My Love (so far I am kind of agreeing with the New York Times review of it, but I’m persevering) and Sarah Hymas: Host and Emma Donoghue: The Room.
I think my problem with novel 3 is that I’ve been editing Cold Light at the same time as trying to write it. It’s too easy to look at my polished, finished Cold Light pages and all the other good books I’ve been reading and expect that my first couple of chapters of Number Three should look like that too. It is also easy to forget the three years and countless drafts, deletions, additions, rephrases, temper tantrums, weeks off and informed advice from two editors and my writing group. Of course Cold Light is better.
I’ve been going slow because I’ve been trying to write final draft, first time. I know this is a problem for lots of writers. Perfectionism is okay but not for first drafts. It’s something I try to address in all of my workshops – setting timed writing exercises, telling the participants it is okay to write rubbish, it’s only fifteen minutes, the important thing is to get the page dirty and we can sort out the mess later. That’s not the way to write a perfect poem, or story, or novel, or a perfect anything at all. But it is one of the perfect ways to make a start. To get over yourself and get on with it.
Which is one way of justifying me signing up for NaNoWriMo this year. November. 50,000 words. I am not so concerned about getting 50,000 words down and I know, with mothering being the way it is at the moment, it might not be possible for me. But I want to devote November to getting down as much of a first draft as I have.
I know lots of proper writers get sniffy about NaNoWriMo. ‘That’s not the way to write a real novel.’ Well no, it isn’t. The proper way to write a novel is to get the page dirty, give yourself thousands of words, and then edit them until your eyes bleed. One of my main tasks as a teacher is to convince new writers that first drafts aren’t writing: editing is writing. I know this. But my fast-typing muscles need a kick up the bum. Perhaps NaNoWriMo during November is just what’s needed.
For the daily dose of plugs,you could check out a really nice review of A Kind of Intimacy over at A Work in Progress. For a double dose, Jess Haigh has included it as one of her three favourite Scary Books at For Books’ Sake.
I have also been updating my links. I meant to import my best links from my old blogger blog over here but it didn’t work as well as I’d hoped and it’s taken me this long to sort it out. Click through to have a look at what I’m reading blog-wise these days. Recommendations are always welcome.