The Masked Ball masks my real job . . .
I’m finding guilt weighs heavily. I had such plans this summer . . . to at least have written the first draft of The Shifu Cloth. I’m 60,000 words in and finding the flow tremendously difficult and I know why. I’ve been editing an earlier novel, writing short stories and marketing and contributing bits to the ongoing Masked Ball story.
All of which is educational, good business and fun! But I was struck rather by a two piece article in the Guardian recently where our favourite writers contributed their 10 best rules for writing good fiction.
And so in the context of my dilemmas, I made a few notes.
1. Restrict your browsing to a few websites a day. Roddy Doyle. Frankly a bit hard when Pat, Rebecca and I are researching the Masked Ball and Venice, Carnivale and Regency music, manners and moments of excitement. As P and R are on the west and east coasts of the States respectively and I am in far southern Australia and as this is an e-story, all our research, contact and writing is done on the screen.
2. It’s doubtless anyone with a good internet connection at his workplace is writing good fiction. Jonathan Franzen. Hmm. True in respect of The Shifu Cloth, and maybe God forbid, even more true with The Masked Ball efforts of the last couple of weeks. Let our readers be the judge.
3. Don’t write in public places. Geoff Dyer. Well, I don’t and I can’t say it helps my work and anyway, what about JK Rowling? The Philosopher’s Stone was written in a coffee-shop I believe. So that puts paid to that one!
4. Have more than one idea on the go, all the time. Geoff Dyer. Hello! I have and all I get are scrambled brains!
5. Write only when you have something to say. David Hare. Now this bears thinking about. I always have something to say to myself and my pretend readers. Out there is a whole other thing.
6. Think with your senses as well as your brain. Andrew Motion. Frankly that’s not hard when your writing about silks, satins, intrigue and emotion and especially when your escort for a ball is an alter-ego of Richard Armitage!
7. ‘Faire at se taire.’ Flaubert courtesy of Helen Simpson. Translates as ‘Shut up and get on with it.’ Great advice and perhaps I should . . .
8. Get on with it. Colm Tolbin. Okay, I will.
9. But the last word is from Phillip Pullman whose writing is exceptional. He says he doesn’t respond to such questions from newspapers because it takes him far from the work he should be doing. With that in mind, I shall finish now and go do some real work. With the muse at my shoulder, I might just get over the 60,000 hump.