Finding your story … easier said than done

Some people are much more comfortable writing first drafts, rushing along like a fully-laden diesel train, without  stopping until the end to check the load. Me, I’m like that little old red, steam engine that could … you know the one, I think I can, I think I can…. ad nuaseum … chugging along, steadily, checking for damage to the undercarriage along the way.

my deskYes, I can’t help but edit as I go. It’s not the final edit – oh no, that’s a long way off. I’ve been so fortunate though – 4 weeks of being able to charge into the first draft for my new novel with no restrictions on my writing time (except I’ve only got one more week left here at the May Gibbs Children’s Literature Trust‘s apartment in Norwood, Adelaide). This freedom is exactly what an author needs! 

My story, VIVALDI’S ANGEL is taking shape … ever so slowly. I’m up to chapter 12 now. By the end of my fellowship residency next Friday, I hope to be close to the end of a first draft.girlIf I’m not it won’t matter – I do have an ending in mind, and a bit of a road map on how to get there. It’s just that my character, Caterina is showing signs of definitely leading the way, and too bad about any map I have already! Which, for a writer is a good thing.VivaldiI have a rough plan of the story. I have lots of scenes I can write before joining them together. I write a rough, hand written copy in my story journal first … then add it to the computer (great for limbering the plotting part of the brain). All sorts of lateral thinking comes during this process.

I have Caterina’s imagined face and Antonio Vivaldi’s known one (did you know he had red hair beneath that wig?) on my drawing board. Plus several images of paintings of Venice and the Venetians back in the 1700s. And of course, I listen to Vivaldi’s music.

I long to finish this first draft! It’s difficult! I’m sure I’ve said this before. I LOVE the editing and rewrite stages. And all those little doubts linger like they do in many writers’ minds … is this story good enough? Will a publisher love it like I do? Will they GET my writing style. Yes, my style is different, but if I wrote like Andy Griffith, Kate Forsyth or Michael Gerard Bauer, it wouldn’t be a Sheryl Gwyther story would it? Viva la difference. Sorry about using your name in vain there, Michael!! I love reading your stories!

The only thing I can control at this stage is my own perseverance. Here’s my mantra …

I WILL finish this story.

I WILL stay confident it’s the bones of a great story!

I WILL try to write without stopping to edit constantly what I’ve written

Ha, fat chance! You’re such a control freak, Gwyther!That’s the muse on my shoulder talking, not me. I don’t think I’m a control freak at all. My desk isn’t tidy, is it? I just have a tidy brain, that’s all.

Dark chocolate frogs help
Dark chocolate frogs help

12 thoughts on “Finding your story … easier said than done

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  1. Hi John
    I’ll certainly bring some books with me! Thanks for your interest. 🙂 And it will great to have it in a NZ school. What year level do you teach?
    It will be great to catch up with everyone – can’t believe how the years have flown past!


  2. Hi Sheryl,
    Looking forward to seeing you in October at the Contiki reunion. You must bring one of your books which I will buy from you though I do want it signed and ill donate here at the school I teach at in NZ
    Tenting was great Europe 78
    John Mac


  3. It’s always interesting to see how different authors write. Taryn, I so love that rewriting stage too!!! and I have so much research under my belt now for this story, I feel like I’m living in 1715 Venice, and Antonio V sits at my shoulder. Nice! 🙂


  4. Reblogged this on In The Tree House With Taryn and commented:
    I’m definitely the diesel train described by Sheryl in her blog post. I know it’s best not to start a new book just before school holidays or Christmas or any other big event because I know it’ll take me 2 weeks of 14 hour days to write that first draft of about 95,000 words and I won’t stop for much – not even food. My family understand, making comments while sagely nodding: ‘Ah, first draft.’ and ‘That explains why I have no uniform to wear. Daaaaaaaad.’
    Then it’s re-writing time – I love this stage too, but it takes a whole lot longer. I use the funnel method – going over the draft the first time for structural changes/checks and writing down plot points, chapters – almost in reverse as this is when I write out my chapter cards. Then it’s down to the pace level, characters, dialogue, chapters, paragraphs, words….each draft leaves me knowing the work is tightening up. I love that. How do you set about writing your novel? Love to know as we’re all so different and there’s no right or wrong.


  5. But the little red engine always makes it to the end, doesn’t it? I like slow and steady. So much more time to admire the view along the way. Viva la clear state of mind! I’m chugging for you Sheryl. xx


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