“Ideas are like rabbits. You get a couple and learn how to handle them, and pretty soon you have a dozen.” John Steinbeck, interview with Robert van Gelder in April 1947 as quoted in John Steinbeck: A Biography (1994) by Jay Parini
This is the fifth piece in my Project… series (and the title chapter in my next book about writing). For anyone who hasn’t read the first two books in this series or the relevant posts on my blog, here’s a refresher for you:
*Project October is all about intensive writing.
*Project November is all about rewriting, polishing and finalising.
*Project December is all about publishing.
*Project January is all about starting all over again.
So what is Project June? For the purposes of this series, there had to be another Project… piece. I toyed with the idea of Project February, mostly because February comes after January. But I didn’t know what Project February was. I still don’t.
Eventually, I realised that the advice that I wanted to give and the month that went with it was all about the middle. I’d addressed the start, the sprint to the faux finish and the actual finish; the only thing left was the part in between.
I was recently reading an article about the biggest fiction sellers going back over the last one hundred years and how so few of the biggest sellers at the time are still read all these years later. One name kept jumping out at me. Zane Grey. I’d never heard of him. But he wrote the bestselling book of 1918. He wrote the third bestselling book of 1919. He wrote the bestselling book of 1920. He wrote the third bestselling book of 1921. He wrote the ninth bestselling book of 1922. He wrote the eighth bestselling book of 1923. He wrote the sixth bestselling book of 1924. From 1917 to 1926, he was in the top ten of the list of bestselling books nine times. According to Wikipedia, he was one of the first millionaire authors.
To me, there is nothing scarier than a fictional serial killer. Yes, real serial killers are terrifying but most people are very unlikely to ever come across one and know this. Fictional serial killers, however, are everywhere: there are more book, film and TV show serial killers than there will ever be real ones (thank God).
I’ve come to realise that there seems to be a bit of a formula for writing a serial killer story. It’s not compulsory, of course, just a set of common steps that run through quite a few of them. The steps don’t always occur in exactly the same order. The steps don’t always occur in isolation; sometimes multiple steps are happening at the same time. And the steps are abstract enough that despite appearing in almost all serial killer movies, the stories are still distinct because of the details of each different serial killer, their methods, their victims and the people trying to track them down.Continue reading
I’m pausing my year of reviewing Australian female writers to sneak this one in and will return to the promised reviews in August.
I saw Andrew Rogerson at an open mike night where he read two poems (performed them from memory actually) and as soon as I got home, I bought this book (which he had spruiked). It’s a high concept book of poems where he wrote a haiku a day for an entire year. For those who don’t know, a haiku is a Japanese poem composed of three lines with the first line containing five syllables, the second line containing seven syllables and the third line containing another five syllables for a total of seventeen.
Sounds easy, right? Not even seventeen words, just seventeen syllables a day. (If all writers could get away with this kind of workload, they’d probably be a much happier lot.) But, of course, there’s very little about poetry that is easy, writing it or reading it.
A Year Rewritten is a very short book, necessarily because of the concept. It took less than hour to read and it’s a little like a verse novel with one obvious difference: I had no idea what the story was. There were hints of love and loss and illness but the haikus were quite obscure. Poetry like this is often difficult to interpret, so attempting to string it all together in my understanding as a linear story proved impossible.Continue reading