Wednesday, 13 February 2013


A jug fills drop by drop, according to Buddha, and that’s an ideal way to describe the current state of play with my novel: comprised of many (many) drops, going through a purification of sorts, before it is ready to be poured (into the minds of beta readers? OK... I’ll stop with the jug analogy).
The month of January was bittersweet, as far as writing goes. Refreshed from my Nano-break, I thrust myself into revising “Brothers”: a novel born in the Gallery of Modern Art one Sunday afternoon in September 2012, which flourished into a 39k first draft. I imagined it would be the most pleasurable (of all my First Drafts) to shape into a Proper Book first.
Naturally, the story then took a completely different direction, and what I have in my laptop now looks like a very distant cousin of the first draft. I’m very pleased with the new developments, but I can’t help mourning that poor first attempt, with its cardboard plotline and faceless characters. I really thought it was amazing at the time, which alarms me somewhat. Nevertheless, I’m moving forward with it nicely. I'm pleased to report Draft Three has commenced.
Would any other writers care to join me in an admission? Who else gets “author crushes”? Gone are the days where my reading experience is confined to within the covers of a book. Now I absorb everything about an author. I scour their websites. I watch interviews of them on YouTube. I download podcasts in which they appear. January's crushes were JK Rowling and Margaret Atwood.
As previously admitted, I’ve never read a Harry Potter novel. Many see this as a slight on my character, but I was thrilled to be in a rare, impartial position (notwithstanding my adoration after her Harvard Commencement Address) to read The Casual Vacancy . And I loved it. Just… bloody adored it. I had a good cry at the end, for the sake of humanity and its many perils explored in the book. Not long after finishing, I was kneeling on the kitchen floor, surrounded by clothes being sorted into dark & whites for the machine. I was snivelling away when my other half entered the room, took one look at me, and said “Sake… it’s only a book!”
As any writer/reader can imagine, this only further increased my despair.
I picked up Margaret Atwood’s The Year of The Flood from the library and, what with it being “speculative fiction”, I didn’t think I’d be particularly enamoured with it. But I’d heard her writing style was beautiful and  I have to say... it really is. I found myself writing down passages that struck me, to join the ever growing passages from novels that inspire me to learn good writing craft. Do you do that too? Care to share them?
Although my ultimate goal is to write novels, I have been seduced by the lure of the Short Story. Virginia Woolf once described her daily diaries as containing “diamonds of the dust heap” and I believe writing short stories would be a perfect opportunity to sift through my own (ever increasing) dust heap in the form of Morning Pages and copious note-taking. There must be diamonds in there somewhere. I have more ideas written down now than I’ll ever be able to work with, so it gives them a fresh opportunity to thrive.
Anyway, I'll stop waffling for now. I do hope everyone is getting on well with their writing. I'll leave you with a photo I took the other day, which might be a useful writing prompt:
Take care,
Catherine x



Amanda Saint said...

Hi Catherine, I have had a crush on Margaret Atwood for years! I went into to quite an extended period of despair when she was in the UK running some workshops a few years ago and I was in living in NZ at the time. The 3rd book in the Oryx & Crake, Year of the Flood trilogy is out in September this year and when the release date was announced I was very, and I mean very, excited! I've not read Harry Potter either so maybe I should start my JKR journey with her adult novel. Any book that moves you to tears is always a winner in my book. Amanda x

Anonymous said...

Hi Catherine. Good to see you are doing the A-Z challenge. I'm a first timer and looking forward to seeing if I can keep the momentum going until the end. Good luck and I'll be sure to swing by to check out more of your posts as I always love to read about Writing (it feels less like procrastination if I'm at least reading about it rather than doing it!) I'm 1281 on the list.

Jessica Peterson said...

Just stopping by from the a-z challenge. I loved your post and I can relate in so many ways. It's funny how first drafts look so different from second, third, fourth, fifth, and so on.

I haven't read JK Rowling's adult book but I LOVE Harry Potter and although I can't say I have author crushes, if I were to have one, she'd be it. And when a book evokes emotion, it's hard not to love it. However, I remember when I read Uncle Tom's Cabin, I was so miserable and grumpy and disappointed with humanity, and although I hated how it made me feel and probably couldn't pick it up again, I think she's an amazing author for causing so much turmoil within me.

I enjoyed reading your post, have fun with the challenge.

Catherine Noble said...

@Amanda Saint: At last! A fellow Harry Potter virgin :) Margaret Atwood's writing is stunning. I often found myself going back over passages to appreciate them once more before going on with the rest of the story. Oh to write like that! I hope you like The Casual Vacancy, I'm really tempted to re-read it VERY soon! x

@mrkelly2u: Hello no. 1281 hee hee :) I hope you do keep up the momentum for the A to Z Challenge, as your "A for Action" post was a belter! I hope you enjoy the rest of the challenge as much as I did last year (and hope to enjoy this year, too!).

@Jessica Peterson: Welcome, Jessica! I'm glad you loved my post, that's always a lovely thing to hear! I've not read Uncle Tom's Cabin, but I can totally understand your experience of being made to feel that way about a book. I once read a book (Micka, by Frances Kay) that was so distressing it really affected me and I wish I hadn't read it. I'd hate to make a reader feel like that! Looking forward to following your A-Z Challenge :)

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