Transition Girl

Why transition girl?... Best answered by a quote from the Iliad....."The soul was not made to dwell in a thing; and when forced to it, there is no part of that soul but suffers violence."

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

the business end

I've reached the business end of the process for the second book, The Penitentiary. This is the point where publishing starts to feel real. Up until this point, the journey of writing a work of fiction remains my own. Beyond this point, I have to accept the guidance of others to produce a book that readers will want to explore.

My last two weeks were spent working my way through the last run of editorial comments (substantive draft number 7). Even at this stage, there are small plot gaps that need to be filled, words that need to be changed, sentence structures that need to be amended, and grammar that must be tidied up. Changing the language away from British English to American English was a wee bit challenging but a necessary evil given the main market for the book is (unfortunately) not my own country. I will, of course, apply all that I have learned to my editing of the third book so that I do not have to struggle with the an avalanche of feedback when I reach this stage next time around.

The book cover photos are done. I have to thank Morgana Creely for her amazing photographs. Her ability to translate story concepts into concrete visions is sublime. Creating stories in pictures, the woman is a genius. Here's a link to her website:

The book series title, the Panopticon series, recently emerged from a conversation with a friend. It was one of those 'I just know this is the one' moments. Aside from the wonderful sound of the word, the uniquely designed prison that is a Panopticon perfectly symbolises a key theme in the stories that will make up the fantasy series.

The book back cover blurb has been written - it is the first thing a reader will look at when they pick up the book in the store. Reproduced below, I am very happy with the product:

How far is too far? Elena wakes up after her accident with no memory of who she once was. All she knows is that that she feels connected to a child, Gabriel, who is bound to her through a remarkable gift. On the other side of the world, Mikael wakes up alone, his mind lost as well. Yet another wayward spirit, Tennyson, has woken up every morning for over a decade feeling alien in his own body. They all feel like they do not belong, their skins a prison. The soul who put them there to rot watches their punishing isolation hidden behind a veil. This part of The Panopticon series, The Penitentiary, explores the length to which some will go to punish crimes of obsession. Forthcoming releases in the series include The Fall and The Crusades.

I now have the formatted manuscript and will be spending my next weekend checking it for any errors that might have emerged from translating unformatted text to a print layout. It means the "proof" copy (what the book will actually look like to a reader) is only a stone's throw away. It feels very real right now.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

balancing act

It seems a month out of the office was not quite enough to temper the tide of exhaustion that has been rising in me for much of 2011. It is mostly of my own doing, my day job is a draining demanding place, my life balance mantra the last several months has been healthy body, healthy mind (coupled with a hardcore personal training regiment), my writing is and has been for some time now about disciplined effort. When I try to be sociable on top of that kind of schedule, it is at best a delicate balancing act and at worst the catalyst for hospitalisation.

I enjoyed the pacing of my July month without the day job. It gave me a glimpse of what a possible future as a full time writer might look like, one that is some distance away yet, with only these occasional mid-year breaks to capture that "luxury of time" feeling. With one less ball to juggle, it was the first time in a year I felt that I was not burning a candle at both ends with a bunsen gas flame melting its centre.

Instead, now, I am tired all the time and finding it impossible to settle my mind for restful sleep. Alot of my creative writing ideas are coming to me after I crawl into bed, in the middle of the night, and in the pre-dawn hours. There's a note pad by the bed to jot down the thought streams that disrupt my downtime, and the ideas are sublime, but I need to re-learn whatever it was that I was doing before which made sleep come easier.

The drafting of the third book has been a new challenge for me. I have tried something different with each book I have written (though I have been told my pervading style is distinctive that it will be readily identifiable as my 'signature'). For book number three, I have opted to focus on the perspectives of particular characters, multiple perspectives of specific events, really trying to get inside the head of key protagonists. As an experiment, I am not sure it will work (though I will find out soon enough when it is read by my editor and some test readers), but it has been an absolute joy to delve that depth into character motivations.

I'm only nine scenes away from finishing the first draft of the third book. The second book is being substantively edited (up to edit number five) but on track for release by December. Perhaps it is the excitement of these milestones being only a stone's throw away that has my mind ticking over at the pace of a bullet train.

Friday, August 05, 2011

the end of solitude

I was back in the office this week and struggled to find my rhythm after a long break away, so much so that I had to head home on Wednesday afternoon for a nanna nap! I woke after one hour's rest with the title for the fourth book and a few more ideas for its plot floating around in my head (noting there are several ideas I've already developed while writing the third book). It seems a short sleep in the middle of the day worked wonders. And I was productive for the rest of the afternoon with the day job stuff too.

It has been a curious week - all very high brow activity.

First, I spent the last night of my 'official' break Friday past at a lecture by Thomas Friedman. Yes, I spent a Friday night at a lecture when most normal people would have a drink or many. I found the whole experience quite uplifting as this Pullitzer prize winning journalist is a great story teller, with language rich in metaphors and analogies.

His lecture spanned a lot of topics with his offerings on what will be valued in the workforces of the future resonating rather nicely. It seems non-routine creative types are the future. It also seems I have been chastised for being such a thing all my life. So I'm rather happy that there is a brighter hell in my working life.

I also liked his commentary on attitudes to take into any job. Think immigrant - no one owes me anything. Think artisan - what is the unique thing that I can create. Think waitress - what is the 'extra' I can give when it comes to dealing with people. Have a nice day!

Second, I read perhaps the best essay of the year about how solitude appears to be less valued today. Here's the link:

In some respects I did not agree that solitude is a dying value. As a writer, I spend copious amounts of time on my own, embracing my inner hermit. I can go days without speaking to another living soul and to be honest most of the time rather like the silence. Certainly, being comfortable with solitude is not really an issue for me. As Deresiewicz says in the article, "loneliness is not the absence of company, it is grief over that absence." I only feel lonely some of the time I am alone.

But I also do the things that detract from solitude that Deresiewicz is critical of - this blog being a fine example of that. I am a writer and I readily confess a small part of me wants others to read my work. Besides as Herman Melville once said (in the classic story Moby Dick), "we cannot live only for ourselves. A thousand fibers connect us with our fellow men; and among those fibers, as sympathetic threads, our actions run as causes, and they come back to us as effects." We cannot live alone obsessed.

Finally, I ended my week at the theatre watching Hamlet. Shakespearean tragedies are probably my least preferred of Will's voluminous work - because you just know bad things are going to happen to ALOT of the characters in the play - but on a wintery Melbourne afternoon, it was just the ticket.

All this brain food has filled my mind with inspiration. Twelve more scenes to write and the third book will be drafted.