on the writing & reading trail

Posts tagged ‘reading’

Editing and other activities

Days 50-56 (July 3-9)

Cold days continue with rain at times. Conducive to work but I feel as if I’ve been skiving even though a few things got done.

At State Library of Queensland

My thanks to Five Reflections for following my blog. I love the haiku. I’d forgotten about it after being introduced to the form a few years ago. Led me to read up on it again and also found a reference to tanka as well. I would find it a challenge to write but the reading of so many examples was soothing.

Critiquing: Last Friday was Writers Group critique day. A very lively time as one of the stories took us on a visit to a Kama Sutra room in a castle. Our other stories seemed mundane by comparison but there were helpful suggestions all round. One of our members had several stunning sequences on a tropical storm.

Editing: Has been bitty. I was unable to move past the first fifty pages for submission to a manuscript development program. Every time I looked at a sentence or a paragraph or a chapter everything seemed wrong – so many changes – until I decided enough was enough. After all the work is to be considered for development. Today I delivered the pages by hand.


So much for change

A day in Brisbane: After dropping off the pages to the Queensland Writers Centre I visited the Gallery of Modern Art and the main Art Gallery. GOMA was a puzzle – I found very little that I could appreciate, and mostly all that I did like was the Aboriginal art, especially the very colourful dot painting work and several most exquisite tonal bark pictures. I wish I’d thought to photograph a couple of them as reminders. The main gallery is being readied for a major exhibition so there was much work going on.

Reading: Last week I picked up a book from the library Features Stand by the author who is giving this month’s author talk. The title is Blood born, written by Australian author Kathryn Fox, a medical practitioner with an interest in forensic medicine. A very grisly, complex and informative tale. I look forward to hearing about her work and writing two days from now. Thankfully the print size is comfortable though not large-print; always a relief.

Next edit sweep commenced – reading update

Day 57 (April 23)

Today: Managed to visit the prologue and four chapters of Part One and made lots of changes even though they’ve been worked over many times. However, I’ve decided those five segments are now cooked enough. Will see what tomorrow brings.

Weekend: I did no editing over the weekend as I promised myself and felt fresher for the fray today. So days 55 and 56 were spent reading, the inevitable shopping / cooking chores (that’s right I’m a reluctant housekeeper and all that goes with that), and mulling over a lifetime of photographs (I have a family photo-book project in mind). It will be fun selecting from and scanning long-ago pictures. I found so many forgotten memories; very nostalgic and story fodder for the future.

Reading: Michael Collins book, the keepers of truth is more vicious in parts than I expected from the blurbs and the first few pages. Not my usual fare, but I’ll stay the course, the writing is outstanding. I’m sure the Booker Prize judges will be pleased I agree with their opinions.

Also finished a couple of other books. First Battlelines by Tony Abbott, which I enjoyed – it reminded me of frustrations when working in the Commonwealth Government about the complexities of the federal system and the buck-passing between Canberra and the states and the impossibility of achieving better than a compromise that didn’t really serve the needs of the nation. I wouldn’t have missed that experience although it was tough to deal with, during eight over-worked years that included elections and the breaking up and merging of departments will all the possibly unwarranted costs of that and the resulting overlap of responsibilities that were seldom sorted out amidst the volume of other priorities. Oh, and the onerous burden of managing poor performers who should never have been selected!

The other book is titled In search of my father: Dementia is no match for a daughter’s determination by Helena Popovic. It would be of interest to many beginning to cope with family members with dementia. I read parts of it and scanned the rest with a view to discovering new material as I’ve read much on the topic in recent years because of experience with two elderly relatives with Alzheimer’s Disease and another with a brain tumour. I didn’t find anything new, but the book provides many examples and explanations about recent research that helps to ward off both mental and physical deterioration. Developments around neuroplasticity are well outlined.

Edit diary – Idle weekend

Days 48-49 (April 14-15)

Editing amounted to a languid approach to the beginning of Part Two of the family saga. Worked on four chapters and made superficial changes to slack sentences, restructured a few paragraphs, compacted a short chapter, deleted parts of it, then included the revision within an earlier chapter. All will need a good going over again. Unbeknown to each other, Freya is training as a midwife in Aberdeen while Alexander is living in Glasgow and teaching in a private school on the city outskirts. Both are struggling to recover from the mysterious changes to their expectations.

The reading I had in mind for the weekend did not happen. Instead I was captured by a book recommended by one of my sisters. I’d set it aside because of the small print, but once started, cannot put it out of mind. It is Bel Canto by Ann Patchett. I am entranced by its difference. Usually long stretches of detail and description do not entice, but this author’s touch is so light with delicious and unexpected diversions I don’t want to skip at all. Such a cast of characters, so distinctive I haven’t lost touch with one of them yet. If only I could get a large print edition I’d be in heaven, and wouldn’t need to ration it out because of tired eyes.

I’ve immediately put other Patchett books on library request, ready to be beguiled again.

Edit diary update

Day 47 (April 13)

Saga editing: Feeling quite elated today. Made a lot of progress this morning. Moved three chapters from existing Part Two to Part One. I can remember the logic of the earlier decision but new arrangement makes more sense with structural changes. Now Freya and Alexander’s time of expectations is separated clearly from the time of adjustment to new circumstances.

The die is cast for three books now. Book One ends where Freya has committed to a new and different life from the one she envisaged, and a return to Australia, hoping to combine career and family life. I need to find a new working title – brainstorming has not delivered an acceptable alternative yet.

Today I mapped out ideas to make the ending of Book One and the beginning of Book Two stronger, especially the beginning of Book Two as the underpinnings need to be incorporated so that it can stand alone. Similar work will be needed for the end / beginning, for Book Two / Book Three.

Next week it will be full steam ahead, aiming to meet the deadline (end April) for completing editing of Book One, to be ready for a final sweep and sending out for reader opinions (end May).

Love my books

It will be a weekend for reading more than anything else with two books to finish, one to scan, and twitter samplers galore to explore.


Edit diary and reading reflections

Day 45 (April 11)

A short day is planned with a long walk in the offing in the afternoon.

Editing: Stayed with the saga editing task till lunchtime and a while beyond. Still grappling, but getting clearer. Jettisoned several large chunks of text because it seemed they were light on substance even though they made some contribution to character profiles. Next sweep will determine if their absence matters.

Occasional glances out of the library window showed overcast skies and a question mark about the walk, then light rain and now sunshine. Who knows what it will be like a couple of hours from now. Hoping to get that walk. It always helps to clear my thinking.

The walk happened; the rain and clouds had gone.

Relaxation: Tonight is no-go for writing, it is Good Wife night on TV.

My reading revolves around titles requested because they’ve been recommended by friends or reviewers, or have won or been short-listed for awards, or appeal from the library shelves when I’m on my way to the bus and looking for something to read en route. A very motley lot. In the last day or so:

  • I returned Farundell to the library – a first novel by L R Fredericks. Set in the Oxfordshire countryside, an interesting patchwork of characters provide insights into English bohemian lifestyle after the First World War. Although well written, the story didn’t quite grip me although I persevered to the end. The dreams and out-of-body journeys resonated, but seemed repetitive latterly. An unusual plot device, the persistent references to The Pymander, an enigmatic book; the Mind of God, felt overly contrived for my comfort, with perhaps an undue recurrence of the sexual encounters, certainly lustful by one of the participants and questionably claiming ‘love’ for the other. The ending felt inevitable and satisfying.

In this work I recognised glitches that are apparent through the editing of my own first novel – maybe I can fix some of mine. I would certainly have a look at this author’s next novel in the planned series. And maybe I’ll find it more compelling.

A number of the reviews gave ratings of five out of five – maybe three for me. A detailed review can be found on the librarything.com website, with author details available at http://www.lrfredericks.com/books/farundell/more-about-farundell

  • I’m also reading a second novel, the last blue mile, by Kim Ponders that explores a young woman’s journey through Air Force Academy. I am three-quarters through but still not sure I will finish it. Readable, but lacking verve, it feels like a catalogue of things that happened, rather than experienced. Each time I felt a momentous change was in the offing, there was a let-down. Even the death of a trainee glider pilot felt low-key. Maybe that’s part of the culture that passed me by. I’ve read on hoping to feel part of the drama. Maybe the story would be of more interest to young people making up their minds about life in the military or air force; to understand the unappealing slog that happens before what they really hoped for, begins for them.

Even though this book hasn’t excited me, I have a notion I’ll try to have a look at Ponder’s first novel titled, The art of uncontrolled flight. I’ll check if it is in the library.

 An interesting author with an interesting history. Could be worth a look at the You Tube video at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PeKBDR-0pyM, or author details at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kim_Ponders.

  • In the last week I also revisited The last darkness by Campbell Armstrong, not for the story which I found unappealing each of the times I read it before, but for his writing style which is riveting. I’ve met and worked with a few eccentric characters along the way and related to Lou Perlman the Jewish detective who both relished and despaired about his work in the harsh realities of Glasgow crime. This is one of three or four of the Glasgow stories, details at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Campbell_Armstrong.

 My favourite of all from Armstrong is the memoir All that really matters, published in 2000. It is on my ‘read again’ list.

  •  Another oddity for me is that I watch Taggart each Saturday night although I dislike Glasgow’s violence and wickedness on constant show. The characters are the attraction again, especially another eccentric in Taggart himself.

For both Armstrong and Taggart there are other forces at work that don’t fit rationally. Maybe part of the attraction is the city itself, where I lived and worked at times in the latter part of the 1900s. After the initial culture shock to a young Aussie, it found a place in my affections, and it was my father’s birthplace. Whenever I visit the UK, a few days in Glasgow feels essential, and never seems to be long enough.

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