Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Tweaking overkill

I was talking to a colleague yesterday evening about a chapter she has just finished writing for a book. She’s spent several weeks on this and then in a final edit had to cut down by 2000 words. She now wonders whether she has over edited and whether her chapter still makes sense.
I can relate to this. I have three non-fiction projects on the go at the moment and all of them are in the process of being murdered. One is running at almost 7000 words and more likely should be a chapter in a book rather than the paper for an academic journal I’m seeing it as. The first draft will probably be finished today. I’ll certainly share it with the students on one of my modules. I fear, though, with the inevitable editing I’ll have to do I may lose the spirit of the thing.
Another piece is a paper that is accepted for an academic journal but for which the editors are requiring yet further editing. I’m losing sight of this one and anyway things have moved for me personally since I wrote this. I keep coming back to the title that I’m rather pleased about and remember that the journal that has all but accepted it has quite some status in my world.
A third piece is a very short chapter for a handbook for creative writing teachers in higher education. I’m using an article the editor has written as a template. I understand what I’ve written, but will the reader? I think it’s ready to go but want to keep fiddling.
In a recently accepted article, I cut it back so much that it started to lose sense and then when I tidied it up I made some mistakes. There were some very harsh comments form one of the editors. They may have been more forgiving of a wrong word length.
We have to learn to let go. Our inner editor is sometimes too active. Resting an article is often helpful. Come back to it with fresh eyes later and even if it’s only a short time since the article was finished, one has probably moved on as a writer.

Friday, 18 February 2011

Making the most of the writing workshop

Making the most of the writing workshop
My Writing Novels for Young People group is really making good use of the workshop element of our seminar. Three students email me work in advance. I photocopy it and bring it to class. The work is always to do with what we have studied in the week before and we comment both on this and any other “creative writing” issues we notice. So far we’ve looked at the young adult character and story shape. For next week they’ll work on how the characters change throughout the novel. They all make notes on the copy they have and keep that. This may seem unusual, but it does allow them to keep a copy of texts that work well and having other people’s work to hand gives them a point of reference. I actually pass back my copy and the notes thereon to the writer.
This has all worked really well so far and we tend to spend the first hour workshopping. It really leads to a much deeper understanding of the young adult text and provides the students with many insights about their own writing.
I’ve been really pleased with my students’ response to this.

Friday, 4 February 2011


This is the way it looks at the moment.

This is the way I was led to believe it should be.

This is would be my ideal.

What? The balance between research, admin, teaching and student matters.