I’ve just returned from a holiday to Tasmania, my birth state. I went back for my cousin’s 21st birthday, and tacked a couple of days on at the beginning for writing.
I stayed in a cottage at Branxholm, a rural town in the northeast of Tasmania. I’ve stayed there before and returned because it’s perfect for writing. The Ringarooma river runs through the property, and there are pastures and alpacas, and forests and hills. The district is full of farms and the pastures are like patchwork, and beyond them, lie the mountains.
I also returned in winter because I wanted to remind myself of just how cold it gets in Tasmania, and check that my memory wasn’t exaggerating. No, it had remembered well. We had plenty of clear, blue skies and air that was so cold we could see our breath, our cheeks turned pink, and our eyes and nose ran.
For those who are bored with updates on the (slow) progress of my novel: stop reading here and skip to the photos below.
For those who aren’t bored (yet): I worked on my novel while I was in Tassie, and I’m now nearly half-way through this rewrite.
A few people have asked why I’d want to rewrite a novel that was shortlisted for an award, and that’s a fair question: it sounds silly to rewrite something that was good enough already. The thing is, I could have sent it out as it was, and I might have even found a publisher, but I wouldn’t have been happy, because I knew it had flaws. I didn’t know exactly what they were and I certainly didn’t know how to fix them, but I knew there were things wrong with it and that it could be made better.
I have patience, and I don’t mind redrafting this story over and over again in order to improve it. And it does improve each time I rewrite it—I see more in it, more textures, more layers.
At first, I wasn’t sure I had the ability to do it, being relatively new to writing and this being my first novel. I wondered if I should put it aside and say, ‘That’s as good as it gets for a first attempt. I’ll make Novel #2 better …’
But then I was given feedback from an agent. Basically, it was three pages of blunt criticism, along with a printout of my novel that she’d annotated. It wasn’t very encouraging, except that she took the time to provide me with feedback, and she told me she doesn’t finish reading many of the novels she’s sent but she did finish mine.
She pointed out the flaws in my novel, and I have something to work with. I want to fix them. I want to improve my novel. I had a story before this rewrite, and I can always go back to that if this fails. But first, I have to see if I can improve it …
You see, not only do I want to be published, but I want this story to be the best I can give, not just my ‘good enough’. I’ve found something to strive for, something into which I want to put a huge effort, my best effort. This won’t be the best novel ever written, but that’s not the point—it will be my best. I’ll have tried my hardest.
So, that’s why I’m rewriting my novel.
Some of my photos from Tasmania: