Posts Tagged ‘John Birmingham’

SURF'S UPI’m like Tank the penguin in the movie Surf’s Up. Between action scenes, I’m holed up in my room, endlessly polishing my ladies.

It’s a guilty pleasure, which I have shelved (temporarily) after eavesdropping on other authors’ daily word counts on facebook.

There’s John Birmingham, working to deadline on his new thriller, with chest-thumping accounts of his daily tallies:

“Haaaaaar!!!!! Smashed thru the last eight hundred words & carried on for another three. Five thousand words for the day. This IS SPARTA!!!!!

He is Writer, hear him roar. Thank God I’m a girlie, or my goolies would have shriveled at the mere thought of trying to compete with all that writerly testosterone. Talk about inducing performance anxiety: his word count is sooo much bigger than mine.

I am Re-writer, hear me keep my word count to myself. Once I did manage to unwrite five thousands words of pure shite in a single day. But write – uh uh, no way.

No less impressive is the versatile and productive Kim Wilkins, who gets up before her two kids to knock off a couple thousand words before breakfast. Now that’s commitment. Which, incidentally, is also the key difference between the professional writer and the amateur.

The professional writer writes, even when it’s hard. The amateur waits for inspiration.

(That’s from “Confident vs delusional writers” in A Newbie’s Guide to Publishing. It’s an entertaining post, well worth the visit.)

I’ll be honest. I struggle with the first draft. Its imperfections bug me and I’m constantly side-tracked by the need to fix them.  But as Hemingway said ‘All first drafts are shit’. Get over it.

So each day now, I tell myself, just concentrate on getting it out. Write first, then you can polish with impunity, later.

I’m not alone in my fixation on polishing. Kate Grenville did thirty-eight complete drafts of The Idea of Perfection – and won the Orange Prize for fiction.

Melina Marchetta says she must have rewritten the prologue for Finnikin of the Rock fifty times; it won an Aurealis Award and she’s been at the top of her game for more than a decade.

Marcus Zusak says he would have rewritten sections of the The Book Thief a hundred times – and he made it onto the New York Times Children’s Bestseller List.

But that doesn’t alter the fact that first, we must write. In my case, a thousand words a day till it’s done. And then, the exquisite pleasures of the rewrite. Polishing my ladies, without feeling guilty, until I am spent.

PS. Don’t buy me books for Xmas, that’s what the library’s for! xxx.

Don’t you just love teenagers and their Christmas wish lists?

I’m thinking of punishing mine by giving Breaking Dawn, the latest of the Stephanie Meyer vampire bestsellers, to her eleven-year-old sister. Letting Ms I-need-a-cooler-phone watch her baby sister curl up with that vampire hottie Edward Cullen will teach her not to taunt the writer in the family.

Given the choice though, Ms Eleven would prefer Inkdeath, the latest Cornelia Funke novel, in her Christmas stocking. For those who haven’t yet discovered the literary pleasures of a story where books come to life, get in before the rush. Inkheart, the movie, is coming out at the end of January.

Nine-year-old boys can be won over by the latest in Robert Muchamore’s Cherub series about child spies – “for official purposes these children do not exist.” Though it’s a bit of a worry when the sixteen-year-old footy players tell him they are reading them too!

For the eighteen-year-old who is moving into his first shared house, it just has to be the John Birmingham classic, He died with a Falafel in his hand.

Nana will love anything from the classy Kate “I don’t write crime” Atkinson (oh, yes you do!) And for men in your life who are more fascinated by fact than fiction, how about the magnificent hardcover The New York Times – The Complete Front Pages 1851-2008?

For me, just fill my stocking please with the sublime pleasures of Margo Lanagan’s Tender Morsels, Alison Goodman’s Two Pearls of Wisdom, and Peter Temple’s Truth, his sequel to The Broken Shore. That, and anything you’ve read, loved and care to recommend in the space below, is all I want for Christmas this year.  🙂