Tuesday 21 July 2009

One down, two to go...

Completing the draft of my book's first section has brought mixed feelings this week. On the one hand, it's great to have passed another milestone on the project. I now have a third of the novel wrapped, and that's pleasing. Conversely, it requires only the most rudimentary grasp of fractions to see that this leaves two thirds still to write. And I now know exactly how much work that'll be: twice what I've already done.

But enough of maths. A more pressing issue is the fact that I have a firm idea for the third section, but remain undecided about the second one. This middle piece of the story is proving quite troublesome. I know what I want from it, but right now I can't nail down where it will be set. Hopefully I can find a suitable place that is covered by Google Street View - it'll save me a few research trips if I can.

On a lighter note, another life-imitates-art coincidence caught my imagination this weekend. I had travelled up to Bristol to visit the street where my detective will live, and drive the route of his daily commute. While in Portishead, I found the police station that features in the first section and went for a walk to get a feel of the area (and take some photos like the one above). My detective has been advised to get some exercise to help him deal with some emotional issues better, and I randomly had him go swimming. So it felt a little weird as I turned a corner near the police station and noticed the Parish Wharf Leisure Centre with its huge indoor pool right in front of me.

If I ever get published, that'll make another great "spooky" anecdote ;-)

Monday 6 July 2009

Winchester Conference

It's surprising how intense a single weekend can be. This one was occupied by the Winchester Writers Conference, and what a weekend it was!

Things didn't start well. I had arranged a couple of one-to-one meetings, the first with a literary agent who I'd sent some material to in advance. It's impossible not to get excited when someone like that reads your work - will they like it? In this case, there were a number of negative points, and I found my hopes crumbling as I listended to criticism for the miserly 3 pages of crime novel I'd been permitted to send. But then, as the agent launched into an observation about the vicious way my killer dispatches his victims, my gloom abated somewhat. I asked her why she felt it was vicious... when the killer had not even appeared in the 3 pages she (allegedly) read!

That meeting was disappointing, but things improved. Later that day was my first workshop with established crime writer Lesley Horton. Her class was extremely useful, and she was a wonderful speaker.

Later on Friday night, a number of us gathered for the Midnight Read, an opportunity for anyone to read out anything to their fellow writers. Some wonderful characters stood and read (or even sang!) their latest work and, along with the entertaining eccentricities, there were some genuinely good stories told.

Saturday and Sunday were exciting, inspiring, and informative. After a captivating opening talk by Michael Morpurgo, we went off to our lectures for a day of literary learning. It was all useful, but two further sessions led by Lesley Horton were pure gold for anyone working on a crime novel.

It was great to spend time with other writers, and pleasing to see so many faces from the Taunton's Creative Writing course there. Martyn and Chris identified some excellent contacts for my children's picture book (who I then stalked and spoke to) and it was brilliant when we heard that Julia and Phil had both made the competition shortlists.

By the end of the conference, I'd learned a great deal, made some very useful contacts, and even been told how to poison someone. You don't get that every weekend!