Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Oops, no title!

monday comes bearing a "nosy personal question, Mr Cornish: I was just re-read Foundling again and am suddenly wondering if you have some sort of deep-seated, sweat-inducing terror of, when traveling, accidentally getting on the wrong bus/train/airplane. [I'm talking of course about Rossamund's incident with the Rupunzil and the Hogshead.] because i am a paranoid traveller myself, and that situation certainly struck a chord with me...did you have some sort of bad experience, or is it just the product of an over-anxious imagination?"

I think it is the latter, though now that I ponder it, I certainly have an at times morbid concern for missing my stop - may be that is it?

Ben Bryddia was wondering... "Since it's not socially acceptable to be abroad without a hat of some sort in the Empire, does Europe's refusal to wear one say anything about her personality?"

I reckon it does, yes... especially in light of her rather ironic observations of Rossamund's continuous loss of his own head ware.

He also went on to muse, "I was also wondering if fuses came in any other shapes than the simple poles described in the books. I have no idea how one would wrap a knobbly bastinade stick with wire, but the concept sounds rather interesting to my addled thoughts."

This seems a perfectly feasible and probably likely variation for some certain fulgars. Sets me on interesting train of thought...

Dear Master portals ponders, "I was wondering - with all the monsters, how is hunting in the H/C? I mean, everyone seems quite well fed, but I never heard anything about actually getting the food. I know Rossamund walks past pastures with cows, but he also eats venison. Maybe I'm missing something (probably, but ... yeah ...)"

Fair question. Hunting and rearing of such things as deer ready to slaughter for the table are very much alive and well in the Half-Continent - something you can just assume are occurring. They have not appeared especially in the books because there is only so much minutiae I can put in each one... and I reckon not every spoke of the wheel needs reinventing (just most of them ;).

The most excellent Perry Middlemiss over at Matilda has picked up on my previous enthusiasm for editing, but I can say now that yes, indeed, as Klesita suggests, editing is taking its toll... *deep breath* The second draft is bearing only some resemblance to the first - the journey is very different every time. Added to this, I just learnt today the Robert Louis Stevenson wrote the first draft of Doctor Jekyll and Mister Hyde in 3 days (!!!!!) - I wish!

Friday, April 17, 2009

The Agonies of Editing

Ahh noelle, it's not just fledgling authors who feel the dents of editorial comment. I am about to receive edits from my publishers and am getting myself prepared for the sting (as much as you can). "Don't they get it! How dare they say that! But I love that part!" might be among the thoughts you're having. I rant and rave and get all bothered and offended.

I find two things help with the post edit sting (actually three) a/ putting the edits down for a bit and mulling (or brooding -if you like) them over; b/ choosing the best "hills to die on" if you get my meaning - the happy medium between those things you are willing to change and those that must remain as they are, besides which, it is still your story, you do not have to make any of the changes an editor asks of you (though I would not recommend such action, a good editor will me you a better writer - I know that is true for me, God bless you Celia and Tim) c/ the healing balm of time.

Also, remind yourself that the editing stage is a team effort, AND the crucial first sharing with the beginnings of an ever widening audience. Though criticism is hard to bare, the excitement of the improved text gained through it is well worth all the struggle... well I think so, anyway.

My first drafts are L-U-M-P-Y, uneven, turgid and at times self-indulgent - folks don't have to be sad that they get edited down and words cut out; the words that are left are far better than those removed. Just for perspective I excised 25,000 words from the 1st draft of Lamplighter and oh how it improved. If anyone thought say that the journey from Winstermill to Wormstool dragged a bit in the final version of Lamplighter, just know that it went for a whole chapter longer in the 1st draft... even I thought is S-L-O-W when I came to read it over properly for myself. And now here in Book 3, Factotum, I have managed I think to prise 9,000 words (so far) out of the first 10 chapters and it is already a far better book.

So bring on the editing, I say, pain and all, a better book awaits (though ask me again in a week or so's time how I am feeling about it all...)

Alyosha, I really enjoyed your comment and though I have given cursory thought to engineers and masons and the like, I shall now think a little more particularly about such folks who tread the middle path between out and out adventure and staying safe behind walls. Concometrists come to mind a bit here, the measurers and the surveyors - but what of engineers? What should I call them...?

Saturday, April 11, 2009

CBCA 2009 - or, Back at last!

Sorry everyone for taking sooooooooo... long to post again, here I am at last!

Editing has me in its merciless grips; the first draft of Book 3 is far too long so cut cut cut, condense condense condense. One of my initial errors (which happened in Books 1 & 2 as well) is that I put in too much world detail - fascinating to me (and my mate Will) but not so great for a well flowing plot or more general reader interest. My second pass involves reducing this to something smoother and less thrombotic to read, some plot-extraneous matter being put into the back matter where it fits much better (thank you Lord for the Explicarium!) The balance for me is having enough detail to fully build in the experience of the Half-Continent whilst not over-indulging (well, too much anyway...)

To those who contend that MBT is self-indulgent and has too much world in it, I answer, what is the point of writing (not "righting" as I had carelessly had previously... you should see my drafts!!!) about a pretend world if it is only briefly touched upon and has no real impact on the story told? Having said that, I have still got to tell a good story - well, the best I can at least.

So, I suppose you could say, my contention has some merit for I learnt recently that Monster-Blood Tattoo Book 2, Lamplighter has made it into the 2009 CBCA Awards Book of the Year shortlist for Older Readers. Very very chuffed that it has been recognised in the same award that honoured Foundling two years ago. Brilliant!

The complete list is as follows:

EATON, Anthony Into White Silence
FRENCH, Jackie A Rose for the Anzac Boys
MARCHETTA, Melina Finnikin of the Rock
MOLONEY, James Kill the Possum
TAN, Shaun Tales from Outer Suburbia
CORNISH, D. M. Monster Blood Tattoo Book Two: Lamplighter
(Check me out with my egocentrically loooonnngggg book title... ;)

Brilliant for us all and all the Notable Books with us.