Tuesday, September 09, 2008

A couple of my favourite things.

I was going to say "a few of my favourite things" like the song, but realised I only had two for now.

1. Not For Robots. ("Writing is hard. People for whom writing is not hard are robots and should go away. Thank you.") I have spoken before about how sometimes when my novel is going badly I start scouring the internet for answers. The trouble is I don't really know what the questions are. But I think this website might actually hold the answers to them, whatever they are. It's written by American YA author Laini Taylor, which is everything she knows about writing and the process of writing novels. It's great. I have already picked up some very useful suggestions, such as keeping two documents open side by side as I'm writing: one for writing the actual novel, and one for twittering on as I'm thinking about it, or trying stuff out (similar to what Peter Carey refers to as cantillevering), so I'm always getting down what's in my head. She says it helps her enormously and I'm going to give it a go. I could go on about all the great advice, but you should probably go and check it out yourself.

2. The smell of the printer/photocopier room. I had to print out a couple of boring invoices today and when I walked into the room that houses the enormous Deathstar of a printer here in the English department I was hit by a smell that simultaneously excited me and reassured me. Why? I think because usually when I go into that room it's to print off pages of my novel. It makes me feel as though I've been working and I have something to show for it. Of course, today I haven't earned that smug feeling the room has given me (perhaps it needs more ventilation and I am in fact high on ink fumes), but I have it anyway. Come to think of it, I think I'm getting a headache.


Andrea Eames said...

Not for Robots is one of my favourite sites, too. And I also like the smell of fresh printer ink ... mmm. And the sound of printing. I actually really like feeling the paper as it comes off the printer, too - it's all warm, like a fresh-laid egg.

Right, I'm going to stop now.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the lead to Not For Robots, which I hadn't come across. Sounds just my kind of thing. I, too do the side-by-side thing, both in first draft, where I write on the recto sides only of the notebook, and make notes on the facing verso, and in a sense on the later computer stages, since I always have a pad of paper by my elbow...

And yes, photocopiers. I think it's the womb-like nature of those rooms, too - warm, slightly stuffy, quiet apart a faint hum, and then the heart-beat rhythm of the machine. Darkrooms are the same, only fix is spicier and more invigorating.

Anonymous said...

Yay - you discovered Laini's other blog. She says she put it together when she needed a break from revisions of Silksinger (the manuscript of which I was lucky enough to get to read while I was there - now I can't wait to read it again).

Hope your headache didn't linger.

Unknown said...

I've just finished my first Carey, His Illegal Self. I found the first two thirds of the novel uninspiring, but from the characterisation he was doing in that part, he was able to pull out a very powerful ending.

Not sure if that is good writing or not.

Smell of whisky, does it for me. Followed by fountain pen ink. I've had my fountain pen for twenty four years now.

LiteraryMinded said...

mmm, printerly goodness... and the warm, warm pages when they first slide out!

Rachael King said...

I like catofimpossibleetc's description of the pages like a warm egg. yes!

Emma - I think it's worth giving a go. It's hard to change habits, but I might just persevere because I think it will be useful. And the smell of fixer has remained embedded in my sense-memory for the 20 years since I was last in a dark room. It's so unique.

Marianne - no it didn't thankfully!

Mark - try reading Oscar and Lucinda, my favourite Carey, though I hear Illywhacker is good too.

Angela - welcome! I have been enjoying your blog and recently blog-rolled it (you probably noticed, which is why you are here). It's great to get such an in-depth report of the Melbourne festival. I'll have to try and make it over there next time. I'm coming to Melbourne next month though, during the arts festival, which I'm looking forward to.