Saturday, February 06, 2010

Welcome to Jeremy Smith, problems with writing

Email today from a writer - in this case presently US based - who is writing a novel partly set in New England (Armidale and Coffs Harbour) during the period from about 1890 and 1920. I won't give the plot away except to mention that it involves music.   

I have said before what a remarkable number of writers have come from or moved to New England. Of course, since my New England doesn't exist in any formal sense, the presence of those writers and of the differences between writers from different areas is essentially a blank sheet.

Here I would like to welcome a new writer to New England. Jeremy Smith, previously Executive Director at the Australian Society of Authors, is coming to Armidale to teach writing at the University of New England. Jeremy is also a blogger. Welcome, Jeremy, and hat tip to Gordon Smith for the lead.

I think that everybody who writes sometimes suffers from writer's block. I also think that this is far worse for fiction writers. Those bloody characters simply won't do as they are told!

I mention this because Gordon Smith partner's, Bronwyn Parry romance writer extraordinaire, has just written an entertaining post, Knit 1, Write 2,  on the writing process.

Some years ago I did actually start to write a novel, a commercial thriller.

At the time I was working in a position that brought me into direct and extensive contact with the Australian and global defence and aerospace industries. I started keeping a writer's log: scenes from the minister's office; plant visits including descriptions of people, machinery and processes; the physical security processes involved in entering a US defence plant; what the offices looked like; details of an official ministerial visit to Indonesia; the words people used; and specific commercial negotiations. The actual details were disguised, but the aim was to create the texture required to support the main story. The background would sound true because it was true.

I suspect that it would have been quite a good novel. However, inconstant person that I am, my ordinary career intervened and I put the project aside. I then lost all my notes in a move.

I am not sure that I will ever return to fiction, although like most writers I still believe that I have a great or, at least, successful novel within me. But it has left me with a better understanding of the agonies and challenges that fiction writer's face.            

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