THE SISTERS' SONG coming in January 2018 from Allen and Unwin. Sign up to be the first to know. x Louise

1. I had a lovely time out and about last Sunday on a wildflower walk around Forrestdale Lake. Being spring, the wildflowers were out, looking colourful and inviting. I just wish I could remember their names—my memory isn’t what it used to be, and the Latin names won’t stick. Fortunately, people were very forgiving of my attempts at identifying species, and no one seemed to mind if I got my Grevillea and my Hakea muddled.

2. I worry about memory loss—my father and his mother had dementia, and I fear developing it, too. Every time I forget something—like the Latin name of a plant, or where I put the car keys, or if I locked the back door, I worry that it’s starting.

3. I worry, too, when I leave my wallet at the self-serve section of Coles, Mosman Park, and walk out and drive home without it, and don’t even notice until the next day …

4. Thank you, Coles, Mosman Park, for returning my wallet with all the cash intact.

5. My children continue to grow up, as children do, and our second daughter has only fifteen days left at school—yes, she’s counting. After eight consecutive years, we attended the final Concerto Concert in which one of our daughters was involved.

The Orchestra played twenty-one items, most of them difficult concerti—huge kudos to them. Our daughter dressed up and had her hair and make-up professionally done, and when she walked onto the stage, I felt a lump in my throat.

How could this:

How can this ...

Become this:

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6. Meanwhile our elder daughter started a blog, and I’ve had a lovely time reading her posts and enjoying her quirky sense of humour.

7. My novel is sailing more smoothly. The sails aren’t billowing, so it’s not going fast, but I’m enjoying taking my time. It’s easier to write now because I think I know where I’m headed. I’ve had problems with one of the characters—initially, she was all bad, simply horrid, with no redeeming features at all. In trying to sort her out, I swung the pendulum too far the other way, and she became too nice—insipid was probably the best way to describe her. Now, I think I’ve given her back her dark side, but hopefully the reader can understand her and why she behaves as she does.

8. I’ve recently tossed one of my most powerful scenes, and some of my best prose, into the ‘Out Takes’ bin. I think—I hope—the story is better for it.

I’ve realised a couple more things about novel writing:

9. It’s all about telling the story. That sounds obvious, but I was such a rookie, I wanted to keep some scenes because I liked them or I felt they were powerful, even though holding onto them actually didn’t serve the story at all—in fact, it lessened it.

I’ve had to delete many darlings—phrases, scenes, chapters, and some of my best writing. It’s felt like severing a limb, but, as I say, it’s all about the story, not the author.

10. (Just quietly, I’ve deleted them from this book, but I’ve kept them for future stories. Hehe!)

12. Sometimes, as I read my writing, I hear my ‘throwaway’ sentences, my clichés, the lazy word I wrote as a place-holder but haven’t corrected. It reminds me of when my kids practise their music and I hear them skimming over notes, distracted, just playing or singing without thinking about it. And just as every note in music counts, so does every sentence in writing. Every word of every sentence.

So, I’m going through my novel with a fine-tooth comb, looking at every sentence and every word, trying a different one, or a different order. And sometimes when I change a word or phrase, I make a discovery and see something I hadn’t seen before—a deeper layer or a hidden truth.

13. That’s the other thing I’ve realised about the way I write—I need to take my time. I like discovering all these layers and truths and nuances, and I can already see how much better I’ve made my novel through this painstaking process called ‘editing’.

However, all of this requires patience.

So. Much. Patience.

But it’s where the magic happens!

~

Here are some photos from my wildflower walk last weekend:

 

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Jacksonia sternbergiana

 

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Philotheca spicata

 

Version 2

Philotheca spicata

 

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Caladenia flava (Cowslip orchid)

 

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Caladenia flava

 

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Chaemaescilla corymbosa (Salt and pepper)

 

Hakea

Hakea

 

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Stirlingia latifolia

 

 

'The Sisters' Song' is coming in January 2018.


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