Josephine's Dream Reading

Josephine's Dream Reading
Trying to look like Josephine Baker - and failing miserably!

Niagara Falls

Niagara Falls
Conquering the Beast

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Can You Ever Have Too Many Re-Writes?

Apparently not. The story that no one will publish - the brilliantly witty story - grew from a 2000 word 'book' to a 6000+ word 'book.' Not the first time I've done that. It's had more re-writes than 'War and Peace' probably had, and I still find typos. Learn this valuable lesson - and not just about typos - that two sets of eyes are better than one. Remember, I've been working on this story and sending it away and getting it back (the boomerang syndrome)for years. And I mean years. But still - my dear friend Cynthia (writer, artist) who probably wishes to remain surnameless in this article - found a few 'bits' that need tweaking. The problem is - as usual - that I know what I see in my mind's eye, and I know what I mean, but the reader won't unless I make a few things clearer. Cynthia certainly didn't know what I meant in a couple of spots. Only someone who hasn't a clue what's in my mind would be able to spot a blockage in the flow, preventing the story from rushing headlong through the artery (Sorry. Got carried away there. Only someone who has had a heart attack would use that kind of imagery. It even makes me cringe when I read it over.) And no one ever knows what's inside your head except for you, unless you tell them, and even then you have to be telling the truth. And even THEN ... there are some things that are unknowable. But we must do what we can to connect. And so we must edit, proofread, and get a hawk-eyed pal to read it over and comment. I can't emphasize this enough (obviously!) In fact, even last week the editor of my next book spotted a slight inconsistency. Don't worry though. By the time you buy your ten copies of it (I need those royalties) all will be as perfect as is possible.

Graphic Novel Anyone?

It's taken a while but I've started to think seriously about the graphic novel. Writing one, I mean. Certainly not illustrating one. I am not an artist, which is the understatement of the year. I'm probably going to sign up to attend the Vancouver Children's Literature Roundtable Graphic Novel Event at the end of February, in order to learn more about this genre. I've attended a couple of talks, but this is an all day intensive so I'm hoping for inspiration. If any of you have the good fortune to possess both writing and illustrating talents you're a step ahead, but I think the key to a good graphic novel is combining the writing and the graphics like a recipe with measured ingredients. Now usually when I write the text of a picture book I have almost no power over the illustrations - though the publisher usually keeps me in the loop. That's as it should be. I often don't get to meet the artist, who might even live in another province. But I suspect that with a graphic novel the writer and artist have to work together as a tight-knit team.
So I keep thinking about the story of mine that publishers always love, but don't want to touch, because they can't figure out who to market it to (neither can I, only how about 'anyone of any age that actually finds it funny?') I know that it would work as a graphic novel. I feel it in my bones - unless that's just the osteo-arthritis acting up - but there's a problem. The language of that story is so important. Not to hold myself on the same level of greatness as Oscar Wilde, but it would be like creating a graphic novel from 'The Importance of Being Ernest.' I could, however, see two versions. The witty, wordy version and the graphic version. I'm talking about my story and Wilde's play, by the way.
What do you think? Maybe get together with an artist friend and see if you can come up with a graphic novel or short story (read Irene Watts' graphic version of her novel 'Goodbye Marianne.' Then read the novel. Check the differences). I think it would be very creative if your school combined an art class and an English/creative writing class and teamed up kids to create graphic novels.
I'll get back to you with more on the subject after February. Meanwhile, keep on writing.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Happy New Writing Year - 2011

When I'm writing about such things as the weather I'm hampered by not being able to really understand how it works. As we are driving around town my husband tries to explain to me about cold fronts and westerly winds and different cloud types, but then I forget. Maybe I need to take a beginner course in meteorology. Having said that I can't help noticing that the weather people on t.v. - no matter how attractive and well dressed and articulate they are, and no matter how well they point to things on the blue screen as if they could actually see what we see - they still seem to get it wrong. For the past two weeks they've predicted snow in Vancouver - and then they take it back. Not that I'm about to complain about the lack of snow, because whilst there are floods and blizzards back East we in Vancouver have the oddest but prettiest weather. It's frosty, the temperature is 0 celsius as I write (11:37am on Sunday January 2nd) and the sun is so bright that I've had to wear sun glasses along with my wool hat, hand-knitted scarf (my hand, by the way) and mittens. Last night the sunset was like a blood orange bursting in the turquoise sky. If only I could come up with a story to put it in!
Wishing you all a creative and fulfilling year.