resilience update #4: bragging rights

It’s not zen at all to brag. It’s poor form. It’s borderline impolite. Self–centered and narcissistic. All of that, absolutely.
Okay, so here I go: I have just completed the first draft of my novel. It has taken me four years of planning and plot development and six months of intensive writing.

Portrait of the artist as a young man

Portrait of the artist as a young man

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resilience update #3: finding your groove

Character or caricature? A Wayang Kulit puppet.

Character or caricature? A Wayang Kulit puppet.

Have you ever noticed how the pilot episode of a sitcom is weaker than the first series? The acting is wooden and the dialogue shrill. Themes and conflicts are introduced so emphatically that the characters seem like caricatures. Series get better as the writers and actors find their groove.

All of this came to mind as I reread the opening scenes of my novel. They were my pilot episodes and they suffer from all the vices listed above. It is clear I will have to edit those scenes quite heavily. The good news is that I also notice that my craft has improved in the course of the writing process. Continue reading

living in the shallows, or the importance of blogging judiciously

Walking past the city square last week I noticed the message someone had scribbled in white chalk on one of the grey granite blocks defining the square’s boundary: ‘be yourself – everyone else is taken’. Mulling over that gem of urban wisdom as I made my way to flinders street station, I started thinking about the importance of finding your own ‘voice’ when writing.

That led me to thinking about how difficult it is for a writer’s voice to be heard in an era of undifferentiated publishing. We are all authors now, as our blogs, tweets and status updates may reach thousands of readers. We are always ‘on’ – and increasingly on edge, it seems.

Like a body-boarder standing in the shallows, we are waiting for our wave. The wave that will lift our blog up on a glorious ride. As the energy of a new blog post dissipates all too soon, we wade back out again behind our iPads, scanning the waves for those about to crest. But the water is too crowded and we are all vying for the same wave. Maybe the answer is to turn your back on the spectators on their beach towels and to go further out to sea where you may find deeper swells, less foam, greater mystery. Continue reading