on the writing & reading trail

Day 14 (6 March 2012)

Threatening to rain

Start to the day: Heavy rain overnight. Thankful that it was dry for the twenty-minute walk to the library after leaving the car for servicing even though the heat and humidity was uncomfortable. Sky was threatening.

Arrived as the Library opened, ready for a full day of editing, hoping for peace to continue working through Part One.

Editing:  a)  Four years on from our initial meeting with the Dunbars, work today focussed on the chapter in which Dunbar family members prepare for a routine day, unaware that an apparently simple request from the Scots Gramma could make a difference to them all. Freya subdues initial vague disquiet when she realises it should not impact on her plans to train as a nurse in Brisbane.

Managed to compress a recent new draft chapter and inject more energy (tense changes). Works better now. Need to get constructive comments from Writer’s Group. Next month will submit this new draft chapter instead of continuing with late chapters from Part Four.

b)  Needed a change of focus, so scanned outlines of chapters for Parts Three, Four, Five and Six to remind myself of the current structure. Am thinking it holds OK, so hopefully when I get closer to the groundwork there may not be as many changes as in first part. Could be more skilled writing perhaps as I progressed?

Keeping track

Comment on the day: After lunch, on my walk back to pick up the car (fortunately dry again after more rain) I reflected on my ire at the morning’s shattered peace, (dis)courtesy of over two hours of bursts of loud-voiced shouting and girning by an out-of-control toddler. Times have changed. I was remembering that my extra lively son had learned quite early about suitable behaviour for place. And if he hadn’t, there is no way I would have allowed the infliction of any unruliness on others. We’d have left.

Making an effort to be compassionate, I was so busy looking for reasons to explain why the mother wasn’t able to manage her little one that I became temporarily disoriented at a corner en route to the garage. I dreamed up quite a few scenarios and thought maybe I’d find a way to weave the incident into a story sometime. Everything is grist to the mill; maybe I should thank mother and child?. The trick would be, how to make such a topic riveting.

Reflection on Writer’s Group comments: Several comments last Friday on one of my Part Four chapters gave food for thought. I deliberately chose to embed a very serious story (humanitarian aid in Sudan) within the family / friendship saga with its gentle mystery and love story, hoping to engage general readers in a profound world issue. One WG member found what I thought was very minor technical content too hard to understand (can and will work on that) and another thought non-professionals would find it boring (can and will work on that). BUT their comments raise big issues for later material which is more detailed about the work in aid clinics (which I have tried to render as visual as possible). Maybe the combination challenge is beyond my skills, OR maybe I’ll need to market to a different readership for the last three / four parts of the story. That suggests splitting the content – thinking two or three books? A couple of Nicholas Evans’s novels nailed my intention – The Smoke Jumper in particular, (with compelling segments on the Rwanda massacres, and the violence inflicted by children), but also The Loop, about the wolves in Montana. Must re-read the first one soon. Lots of thinking still to do!

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