Writin’ Right Along

Well, many moons have passed since my last blog entry (in fact, many moons have passed since I looked at my website at all), and I found that there was a plethora of comments waiting for me. My apologies for not addressing them sooner. I’ll admit, I tend to forget about everything when I’m writing. But, evidently, it is time for an update on all things Dan and Book.

Firstly, there’s been some interest in the progress of Book Two. I can advise that I (and the book) are progressing right along. Earlier in the year, I announced triumphantly that I had finished the first draft. I should clarify, however, that when I write, the first draft consists of me vomiting everything in my head out onto the page. It is a torrent of good ideas, mixed with, well, vomit. ‘Cause you never know where something might lead. And I am, in fact, the worst judge of my own work, so the filters that you might think would get applied by any right-thinking person aren’t applied at all. Instead, every idea, good and bad, gets put down. That’s the first draft.

Then I put it away.

And it sits, festering in the dark, while I do other things.

This festering is supremely important to the way I write. I don’t know about other writers, but I find it very difficult to look at stuff that I’ve written recently with an unbiased eye. It’s all too immediate. So I put it aside, and try not to think about it all. Of course, it doesn’t work that way, and new ideas occur to me, and I jot them down on bits of paper that I promptly lose, but I don’t look at the text itself. The more time I leave it, the better, but even a couple of days can be really useful.

Then I come back, and look at it, and snigger at some parts, and groan at others, and recoil violently from some ideas that could obviously never have worked, and what the hell was I thinking?

And I wade back into it.

In the case of this wading phase, however, I did something a little different. I went on a research trip to the UK and the Netherlands. Now, some might say that it would be best to conduct the research trip BEFORE I started writing, and I’ll concede that approach has some merit. But I didn’t do that for a number of reasons.

Firstly, in addition to writing novels, I have a day job, and I like it. I enjoy it a lot. But it takes up time. And there wasn’t a good opportunity to take time off until the middle of this year. Also, there were people I wanted to meet with and interview, and they weren’t immediately available. And then there were some events I wanted to attend that only occur at certain parts of the year. So, the research trip had to wait. But it was definitely worth waiting for.

It was great. I visited Cardiff and London and attended the horseraces at Royal Ascot. I went to Delft and Amsterdam and the Hague. I took several million photos. I jotted down copious notes and managed not to lose them. I came home with so many ideas that I wanted to put into the book – ideas that made it better, and cooler, and put a Checquy spin on some big things. So, now I am working my way through the manuscript, putting in new elements, tightening scenes, cutting dross, changing stuff. It’s how I write, but I’ve never done it with an audience before.

So, when will it be done? I don’t have a firm date for you, I’m afraid. I’m working as hard as I can on it, but I want it to be as good as it can be. I’m working with my glorious editor, and my magnificent agent, and when it’s done, it’ll be done. But sooner, rather than later.

In other news, I’m delighted to share with you the news that The Rook received the Aurealis Award for Best Science Fiction Novel. The Aurealis Awards are Australian literary prizes, and I was really, utterly not expecting to win. Seriously. When they said the name of the book, I made peculiar noise that I’ve never made before, which sounded like a yodeller getting punched briskly in the stomach. Then I had to totter on weak knees up to the stage to receive the reward and something intelligent. I succeeded in one of these tasks. It’s just that I really didn’t think I was going to win.

Let this be a lesson to you, if ever you’re nominated for something, have some remarks ready, even if you really don’t expect to win. Because otherwise, you have to make a conscious effort from thanking the entire human race.

And that’s what’s happening at the moment. I shall endeavour to update more frequently, as things happen.

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