The other 11 students had written a novel or were well on the way...their novels ranged from memoirs of sad childhoods, baseball adventures and a varied sexual life in San Francisco including group sex (which I didn't know they had anymore). I long ago realised I will never write a novel - I can describe the character but I can't get him across the street - but I thought this would help my journalism.
|Ellen Sussman's living room|
One of my challenges during the day was to stop myself blurting. After 10 years of being a stay-at-home-Mum I have the attention span and impulse control of a knat. One woman described a scene where the main character throws wine at another woman. I wanted to blurt: "But that's a famous Real Housewives scene! It's even been parodied by Tina Fey in 30 Rock! Don't include that!"
This is what I got from the class:
- Be cocky. Why on earth would anyone want to read what you write? says the devil on your shoulder. Don't listen. (How often have I finished a blog post and wanted to push the delete button?)
- Start each chapter in the middle, then hurry out quickly at the end.
- Never begin a novel with a person waking up or landing in a plane. (See my last post which started with me waking up.)
- Be wary of flashbacks - make sure they're essential.
- Be prepared to kill your darlings - brutal editing is everything. (See my last post which should have been solely on Kate Moss, but I added in my new sweater and that our puppy Teddy has a girlfriend, which I later edited out. Truthfully, I thought the Teddy romance was the most interesting part of it.)
- Go big or go home. Publishers have no appetite these days for "quiet novels." You have to be dramatic. Is Teddy's romance dramatic enough do you feel?
A different kind of Writers' Block for me: an early morning start and an hour and half drive to get to the class followed by sitting for a long time... by lunchtime my stomach had swelled to six month's pregnancy size. Lunch was quiche and the combination of eggs, cream and pastry served to extend my stomach further with stabbing pains. (I knew this would happen - the quiche just looked so good.)
Essential flashback - traveling in Europe (white bread is the ultimate evil) all my Kiwi friends found the only way to relieve oneself of Block, the non-artistic kind, is to make a long-distance call home. So once I got home from the writing class it was: "Hello Mum?"
Don't worry....I'll hurry out quickly before the end. Have you ever thought about writing a novel?