Archives for December 2009

Write a Draft in a Month?

30_Days book cover

I’m really very proud of the fact after years of procrastination and doubt, I got my first rough draft done before my official deadline of December 31st. But that still means that I was working on the draft for a full nine months (talk about it being my baby!) And people like Nora Roberts seem to churn out new books every six months or so, which got me wondering: how?

How does Nora get her ideas, transfer them to paper, write, revise, adjust, and get through the official editing process so quickly?  I’ve read that she is a much disciplined writer, spending eight hours a day in her office writing, which would be helpful.  And I would love to be able to write at such a speed and for such extended periods of time in the day. Of course, I don’t think Nora Roberts wrote so prolifically when she had young children (although I truly have no idea as I haven’t followed her career all that long) and until Bronwen is in school full time and has the ability to understand what “Pleeeeeeease… leave me alone” really means when Mummah is sitting at her writing desk, I’m not going to be getting eight hour writing days anytime soon.

But I do have a book on my bookshelf that suggests it’s possible to pull a first draft together in 30 days. I’m only glancing through the introduction where is fully exposes that really, the first draft is actually a very detailed outline that is about a quarter of the whole books length, but that according to the author, having completed such a detailed outline means that writing the missing bits will be easy.

I like the idea of having such a complete outline in a month. I’ve used an outline for my first novel (that is still –  *STILL* nameless!) and found it really helpful to make sure  correct seasons were described at the right time of the year and that the flow of the story happened over the same passage of time. There is nothing worse than an author who writes about a winter Christmas in Australia for one character and how delightful dying Easter eggs is in what would be August for another! Details people – details. I like the idea of being so clear about what will happen in the story that you can see the strengths and weakness’ at a glance, making revision somewhat easier.

So I’m going to read the book this week and see if I can start learning the art of  the whole ‘outline/draft in a month’ skill set. Because the idea of whipping out books at such a speed sounds like a wonderful thing to impress an agent or publisher with – don’t you think?

First Draft in 30 days; a novel writers system for building a complete and cohesive manuscript.

Karen S. Wiesner, Writers Digest Books, 2005

ISBN: 13: 978-1-58297-296-1

ISBN: 10: 1-58297-296-6


There are 137 (!!) copies of Twilight in the Ottawa library. I’m number 30 on the waiting list but the notice says it’s in transit which means I will get it in about two weeks (this Friday is New Years Day, so no library time). Reviews from other readers on the library website either love it or hate it. Wonder what camp I will fall into?

Waiting for a Book….


J.K. Rowling

The Harry Potter phenomenon started for me when waaaaay back when I was a teacher in 1997 and every child seemed to have a copy of the book; I simply had to know what all the fuss was about and got hooked. Now, 12 years later and I’m looking forward to my own daughter being old enough to start reading the books to her and sharing the pleasure of the story with her.

So I’m wondering if I’m I the only geek around who was up late last night watching “A Year in the Life of J.K. Rowling” on t.v.  and finding themselves missing the anticipation  of the build up to each new book release like we enjoyed with each of the final four Harry Potter books?

Of course I’ve heard about the Twilight series and seen a kind of excitement it’s generated for each of the movie releases,  but it’s been nothing along the lines of Harry Potter and so far I’ve been able to resist the temptation to hand over a fist full of dollars to buy the books and start reading.  And as I’m not likely to receive a complimentary copy from Little Brown just for mentioning the Twilight series here in this blog, perhaps I should order copies from the library and see what the fuss is all about.  Although I have to admit that without ever really getting into it in the first place, I have been known to utter the words “I’m so over vampires already; move on people, move on!”

And it’s not that I miss Harry Potter as such (although I admit that if I heard that the fabulous Ms. J.K. had written another book in the series about the Potter kids I would be pre-ordering my copy,) but I miss the thrill of knowing I was one of millions around the globe who was waiting through the thrilling agony of the countdown to get my hands on the book and start to read.  I just miss the collective feeling of people around the globe, holding their breath, waiting to know the end of a story…… waiting for a book…..


EDIT  January 3rd 2010:

seems I wasn’t the only person who was thinking about Harry Potter that day….       The Globe and Mail

To Call Myself a Writer








Everyone and their dog want to be a writer. Being a writer, it would seem to the vast majority of people, is easy enough. Bang out a few thousand words and get paid squillions of dollars and get the story made into a Hollywood movie.  I’m equally sure you’ve heard the saying that in each person there is one good story to tell. So many people say I’m going to write a book but there is a one caveat; they are going to write a book – one day.

That was me for a long time.

I was one of those people. I would read a story and think, “I could do that,” or, “good grief, if that got published, why shouldn’t one of my stories?”

 Because I was the kid whose mother would buy 15 – 20 books for a huge Christmas present parcel and by the end of the six week summer holiday  they would all be read – and some twice over already.  I was the kid who thought going to the public library was the most exciting thing ever; the one who had the torch and read under the covers when I was supposed to be sleeping at night.

But for some reason, the older I got the less I trusted that spark of desire within me that called to me to write. I pushed it away, deeming it childish and completely impossible for the likes of me. Who on earth was I to think that I could actually write something that would be good enough to be published?

Of course, the pull towards writing down the adventures that happened in my head remained constant, and I would spend a quiet hour or two, putting pen to paper over the years. But it wasn’t until this year, several months before my last 30-something  birthday, that I came to the conclusion that if I didn’t do something about this nagging dream to write, that I should shut up telling people I was going to write a book one day and move on with my life.

Cut to February 2009.

I gave myself the challenge of writing the first shitty draft (as Anne Lamott would urge) by the end of the year. I actually finished writing the draft by hand in a couple of notebooks by October and have been typing it into the computer since then.

But seriously. Who am I to dare to think I could be a writer?

Oh yes, I’ve heard the argument “I write therefore I am a writer”; but its being a published author where the distinction is really made. Long before Meryl Streep and Amy Adams had even considered acting in a movie called “Julie and Julia”, Julie Powell understood that being a writer meant being published. It wasn’t enough to have a half written manuscript, an apparently popular blog and a desperate desire to be a writer. You need to be recognised by other people, (people who are regarded as professionals in the publishing field,) for them to agree that the words you have so carefully strung together like a pearl necklace are worthy enough to be printed in some format for other people to read before you can call yourself a writer.

So here it is. My journey towards the end goal of being a published writer. If nothing else keeping a record will keep me accountable to continue learning about my chosen craft. I need to keep pushing my personal boundaries in my efforts to be published; death or publication. I prefer publication.