Friday, July 21, 2006

Painting continues. And writing continues. That's a good thing. A meeting with the publisher today (actually my editor but she's very cool) and I handed in a major rewrite of a manuscript. Fingers crossed that they won't hate it.
I am still reworking a certain picture book, and am about to wrestle with Draft No. 16. Anyone who says picture books are easy can come and clash swords with me (and that includes Madonna of the moral message). I keep reminding myself that Mem Fox did 40 revisions of "Possum Magic".
I have three writing books by my bed at the moment, all different and all intriguing. The first is "Between the Lines", the one about subtlety and subtext in fiction and how to achieve it. I got distracted from that one (even though it is very good) because I was on holiday and, when I have a good amount of time off teaching, my brain says "Give me something to grapple with". And that doesn't mean work-related stuff. So I have been reading "The Dogs of Babel" by Carolyn Parkhurst. My Arizona friend, Meg, gave it to me before she returned to the States, and I have been reading it warily. Is the narrator mad? Is the story about to take a horrible turn into the bizarrely gory underbelly? No, she keeps the narrative going in two streams - the present day where the narrator is trying to teach his dog to speak so he can find out how his wife died, and the past where he relives how they met (him and his wife and the dog) and what led up to her death. Wariness gave way to deep interest and involvement in the story, and I give it 9/10.
After reading Miss Snark's summer books recommendations, and realising my credit card really doesn't belong to Borders (or any bookshop), I resorted to my local library and have been madly ordering books to be put on reserve for me. Today I started Tobias Wolff's "Old School", and have Nicole Krauss's book on the pile.
Writing books? The other two are "The Making of a Bestseller" by Brian Hill and Dee Power (Dearborn) and "Weinberg on Writing" by Gerald Weinberg (Dorset House).
The bestseller one is interesting, not that I will ever write a bestseller, much as I would love to write like Michael Connelly or Janet Evanovich. But it gives a very good insight into the commercial publishing industry. If you write midlist literary fiction, it may well give you nightmares.
The Weinberg book is interesting too, in a very different way. It's about the process of writing, via a fieldstone metaphor, and may be very useful for those of my students who struggle to write regularly, overwhelmed by either their version of writer's block or the need for perfection.
Reviews will follow, when I have finished them and had time to think and evaluate.

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