Monday, 25 May 2015

The game is on

Waiting to hatch
Excitement abounds – the draft is about to start moving again. I have accepted a place on the Hardcopy program. I first heard about the program through uni. When I looked up the details and discovered that 2015 was all about non-fiction, I thought I should at least have a go at applying. It was the first time I had shown anyone the draft so it was almost simply a challenge to myself to stump up the courage to push it out into the world.

I couldn’t believe my luck when I got the e-mail offering me a place. I burst into tears, quite messy tears. To get some external validation of my idea and my writing felt amazing. The program consists of two workshops to help writers further develop their manuscripts. Then a few people will progress through to a third workshop which looks at the publishing side of things. I have plenty of work to do, but this is going to be a wonderful opportunity to get some help.

Writing for work
The panel’s preliminary feedback notes that I need to work on my characters, show don’t tell and consider introducing some dialogue. This echoes much of the feedback I have been getting on my assignments too. And this morning I worked out why. I have done plenty of writing – albeit usually for work. And this is where the problem lies. Writing for work is issue based. I explain the issue and often explore options for solving it. There are no characters, there is no showing not telling. In fact it is completely round the other way. I tell the reader what is coming in a short pithy summary and then logically explore the arguments before reaching the conclusion.

The possibilities
So I accept and understand the comments and am getting just a bit excited about working out how to address them. I have been reading Story Craft by Jack Hart and trying to understand his suggestions and think through how I can incorporate them in my work. Creating a visual landscape for the reader – of the characters and the places they go – is going to be an interesting challenge. But I haven’t touched the draft yet. I want to wait and soak up the ideas and then return to my work with clearer eyes.

A future project
My flights and accommodation in Canberra are booked. I am flying up a day early so I can soak up some art and culture. I have already decided I shall go to the war museum to see the new exhibition on Afghanistan. This relates to another idea I have about a writing piece – so let’s call it research! I am really looking forward to meeting the other program participants and am curious to learn about their projects and their writing practices. There are at least two others from Melbourne, who are also from my uni course!

Making time for fun

Getting the manuscript finished is going to require some serious commitment and discipline on my part. I have decided to take a leave of absence from uni for second semester so I can concentrate on the draft. I want to make the most of this chance and feel that if I stuck with the course too I would feel conflicted and would never have time to see my family and friends.