on the writing & reading trail

Archive for March, 2012

Edit diary (March 21)

Day 29 (March 21)

No editing on the page today, although some thinking happened as I rode to and from Brisbane on the bus, and walked around the city before meeting my two sisters for a long lunch and catch-up time. A most enjoyable occasion. Apart from family chat we talked a lot about books we’ve read or are reading and about movies and TV programs and the weekend State election coming up. Even though each of our lives are, and have been very different, we share so much common ground.

I left home a bit early and walked a fair bit first. The Wednesday fresh produce and food market in Brisbane Square is always inviting – such an array of wondrous things and a great atmosphere among the stallholders. But how my heart clenched when I saw the poster at the bridge entrance showing the children of Africa. Such a vast gulf between the haves and have-nots. If only . . .

Entrance to produce and food market, Brisbane

There’s a fair bit of work to go before my editing task moves to a large segment of the story when Freya arrives in Africa to become part of a therapeutic feeding program. That time was the late 1990s when South Sudan was in the grip of a desperate famine. Freya was challenged in many ways during her mission. I was reminded of it and know changes are needed, but will delay more thoughts of that for now.

Tonight I intend relaxing and checking out the photographs I took today.

Queens Street Mall


Edit diary (March 20)

Day 28 (March 20)

Cool and wet again.

Managed to tidy up one of the problematic early chapters in Part One (at one stage it was Chapter One). The action takes place in Mackay, a large town on the Queensland coast, around one thousand kilometres north of Brisbane.

Sun Times in Mackay, Australia.

Sun Times in Mackay, Australia. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The major dissonance was solved by re-jigging the beginning of this chapter to draw attention to the gap of four years since the last action, given that the now preceding chapters were taken forward and into the present to avoid back-story flashbacks included in later chapters. Now I need to be conscious of eliminating repeat content and checking that tenses are consistent with the new structural approach. Two more awkward chapters to deal with and it should be easier after that.

Library was comfortable and quiet for working most of the time today.

Good work environment

Edit diary (18-19 March)

Days 26-27 (March 18-19)

March 19:  Thankfully a cool day with rain and comfortable for thinking. Quick review of the outlines for all six parts of the saga again –  apart from some awkwardness with the new structure for the beginning of Part One, I am satisfied with the flow of the storyline right through.

Still avoiding the issues for those early chapters, but conscious of ‘under-the-radar’ work going on – it will come right – just not quite there yet.

Spent time making changes within a late chapter of Part One, where subterranean evil intent is being worked out, that will have a grave impact on Freya’s hopes and plans. It is late 1983. She expects to finish training and have finals result for her nursing course early the following year. Surely her grandmother will be well enough to travel to Australia by then? Another Glasgow winter looms.

Starting to get cold

March 18: Had another non-edit day. Trusty laptop freaked out yesterday for a while and has been flickering. Suddenly realised it might be reaching the end of its useful life. No shame to it – it’s outlasted two PCs. When realisation hit I dashed out to buy a new USB drive and started to backup all my research files as well as older material and other stories, just in case. Current drafts are usually safe as I back them up at least every few days to at least one /more often three locations for safety. Attended to the most important files and folders. Will continue over next days until all are safe. If computer holds out that long. Trying to decide on best replacement to meet competing demands for portability and tired eyes.

English: A Sandisk-brand USB thumb drive, SanD...

Image via Wikipedia

Edit diary

Days 24-25 (March 16 – 17))

March 17: Decided to have a lazy writing day and catch up on a few household tasks instead. Hot, humid, wet day. This is the real St Patrick’s Day but the official one was celebrated in Brisbane last weekend. Must have been a reason but I’m not sure what it was.

I am hating our ugly election campaign. Gets lower by the day.

March 16: Probably a short edit day if the weather holds – hoping to fit in the weekly long walk – transferring it from weekend to a weekday to avoid the glut of cyclists whizzing uncomfortably by. Rain forecast, so we’ll see.

Made good progress. Stayed with later chapters in Part One as I’m still finding some of the early chapter changes daunting. Much clearer, so far fewer needs for change, mostly adding action detail and shortening sentences and paragraphs. Freya is fully involved in nurse training in Glasgow. It is the early 1980s and in a letter to Alexander her excitement about developments in nuclear medicine is clear. In Brisbane he is coping with science and maths degree studies and flight training. Busyness helps them cope with the separation.

Copious letter writer

Managed the walk – the rain held off, but it was hot and enervating – stopped after 75 minutes instead of our usual 90 minutes.

Reflections from the bridge

Edit diary (14-15 March)

Days 22-23 (March 14 – 15)

March 15: Started out as yesterday on Part One, and met the same concentration block around lunchtime. After food, a short walk, and spending an hour trying to develop outlines for two new short stories, I moved forward to work on Chapter 20. Here, Freya is just home after an exhausting shift at the Royal Infirmary, and exasperated at still being in Scotland when she aches to be in Australia with Alexander. Her mother and sister are visiting. A visit to the Art Gallery which has an important place in the family history is on the cards.

Made lots of changes. Was a bit taken aback at how many changes because I’ve reworked that section more than a few times already. Just confirms the value of being distanced and therefore more objective.

Busy workplace

March 14: Continued with changes to Part One early chapters, noting areas for change without working on them. To retrieve concentration I changed tack and worked on critiqueing three chapters for a Writer’s Group member. Excited about how well my colleague’s work has developed. Always surprised how a change of focus energises.

Made for home early, and did a big cook to stock the freezer with meals. Watched The Good Wife on TV, one of the few programs I follow. Am disgusted with what’s on offer in our State election campaign.

Comment: Hoping very much to get past the early chapters of Part One and to move a bit more quickly through later chapters. Very keen to start working on Part Two. The initial goal date has been moved many times. Reworking existing material seems to take much longer than the initial writing which I hadn’t anticipated, and probably should have, as I’ve experienced the phenomenon many times before, when working with large work-based documents (some more than novella length). Don’t know why, but I had this idea that changes to fiction would be easier to manage (no annoying unchangeable facts or legislative clauses to account for). Not so. The implications of change are the same because of the length and complexity of this family saga. Am better prepared now for the rest of the task. Hopefully there will be fewer massive structural changes ahead.

Features in novel several times

Edit diary

Day 21 (March 13)

Plan for the day: Focus on problematic chapter in Part One,[it was one of a number of previous first chapters, but which now sits four (perhaps five) chapters on]. Needs transition to its new location and removal and improvement of content that has now found an earlier home. If time permits, work on other areas.

Edit progress:  Found a way to leap forward four years (hopefully seamlessly) and noted redundant stuff as well as foreshadowing an imminent and unwelcome event. Did not enter new text but flagged all new ideas to work on. Feeling satisfied with the day’s efforts with that chapter.

Also had a look at the final chapter for Part Two which will now become the end of Book One (Always . . . ? – I think that title may remain). Again no new text, but the same flagging of new approaches. Needs to be fleshed out, to leave just a little doubt about whether it is a ‘happy ever after’ conclusion.

Other: Almost completed the critique of a chapter of a finished novel from one of the Writer’s Group members. It’s getting near to submission stage. Another friend sent details of a short story competition. I’m thinking about that, feeling a bit non-committal about entering.

Changes to come

Edit diary (9-12 March)

Days 17 – 20 (March 9-12, 2012)

March 12: Out of phase again – accompanied family member to early medical appointment, followed by a short time in the library for editing. I managed to complete a draft synopsis for Book Three. No success with a title, although I came up with many brainstormed possibilities. Not one is just right. I’ll be out of routine tomorrow as well for same reason as today. Hopefully there can be a return to momentum after that. I had a bit of fun scanning some of the time two of the main characters spent in Kruger National Park near the end of the whole saga. Can’t wait to get to the editing there – some glaring faults stood out. 

March 11: Bitty day without opportunity to get to manuscript. Some time with social networking. Followed a few new people on Twitter – interesting links for writers. Had a quick look at book cover providers even though not nearly ready for that yet.

March 10: No editing. Attended website building workshop in case I decide to

English: Elephant crossing the road in Kruger ...

Image via Wikipedia

do that soon. Interesting and helpful. Played with site ideas later in day.

March 9: Minor editing in am – started synopsis for Book 3 – still no title. Face-to-face networking over lunch and finding out about a local writers network group. Discussed progress on our novels.

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