Elizabeth Jane Corbett

writing her way home

Tagged – my not so rolling blog tour

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Let me introduce Christine Maree Bell. I first met Chris at a book launch and then, many moths later, quite by accident, I bumped into her on the train. We were both heading into the city for a Melbourne Writer's festival workshop. I don't know when or how we started work-shopping together. Only that we've been doing it now for quite some time. As I write this post, Chris is heading up to New South Wales to take advantage of a Varuna fellowship. This recognition is long deserved. She has written for the web and had multiple children's educational titles published. Her first young adult novel also won an unpublished manuscript award. Her second young adult novel is at submission stage. While at Varuna, Chris will be working on re-drafts of an adult historical novel.

See what I mean, she's going places.

I was therefore thrilled when she tagged me in a rolling book tour. This involved answering some questions about my writing process and tagging three other writers. This is the writerly version of a chain letter without the accompanying threats and curses.

Here are my answers to the questions Chris sent.

What am I working on?

I am working on the re-draft of an historical novel called: Keeping Notes. In 2007, an early draft of this novel was short-listed for a Harper Collins Varuna manuscript development award. Since then it has been re-worked, rejected, put aside, and then restarted. There was something about this story that wouldn't let go of me, though my stomach clenched every time I thought about the amount of work involved in re-writing. I have just finished the end of the re-draft and I'm getting ready to send it out to readers.

How does my work differ from others in its genre?

Keeping Notes is a psychological novel, set in 1841. Part coming of age, part fable, it is a story about losing a father, facing the truth, and how life is never as it seems. The setting is a nineteenth century emigrant vessel. The history early Australian. But there is also a fair bit of Welsh mythology thrown into the mix. I don't know anyone else writing an Austeakian historical, psychological novel with Welsh mythology at its core. I trust it is therefore distinct.

Why do I write what I write?

I was born in Britain to a Welsh mother and English father. Emigration was the defining event of my childhood. I've spent my life reading British novels and, in particular historical ones. I did an Arts degree, as a young adult, majoring in history and politics. In later years, I went on to study librarianship. But I never stopped reading historical fiction. When I decided to give writing a go there was no choice. It had to be historical. I started with the character of Caroline Chisolm and then worked my way into all things nineteenth century and immigration. I decided to make their destination Melbourne because that's where I live. When I threw a Welsh story teller into the mix the story took off. I journeyed back to the Land of My Fathers in my imagination.

How does my writing process work?

I'm a nervous convoluted sort of writer. I start with an idea for a scene in mind. And a wringer twist in the pit of my belly. I light a candle and over coffee and journal about what I want to write about. Yes, that's right, I write about what I want to write. This gives me courage to face the empty screen.

Sometimes, my writing day goes well. My fingers fly across the keys. Other days, I sit at my desk and bleed. But I'm learning that bleeding is a necessary part of the process. As at the end of a difficult day, when I begin to unwind, the answers to a knotty scene begin to clot in my subconscious. I jot them down before I go to bed and then journal about them again the next morning and, all the while, I'm trying to work out the beating heart of the story.

Right, having answered the obligatory rolling blog tour questions it is now my turn to tag three other writers. This has proven a little more difficult than anticipated.

You see, all my close writing buddies have already been tagged. Feeling distinctly unloved and seriously unpopular, I turned to my cohort of Historical Novel Society colleagues. Eureka! A number of them expressed an interest in being involved. Sadly, my excitement was short lived. Despite plaintive polite reminders, only one of them has sent the requested biography and photo.

Sophie Schiller is now my new best friend.

In fact, in my eagerness to procure Sophie's participation, I may have invited her to dinner and succumb to the Aussie stereotype of offering to throw a shrimp on the BBQ.

As Sophie lives in the US, I may never have to make good on my offer. But I wouldn't mind, honestly. Her work sounds so interesting. Sophie was born in Paterson, NJ and grew up in the West Indies amid aging pirates and retired German spies. She was educated at American University, Washington, DC and spent many years working in International Business before becoming a writer. She currently lives in Brooklyn, NY.

Thanks for coming on board, Sophie. And if anyone else out there is not too busy or too famous or to otherwise engaged, send me your bio, photo and URL and I'll add it to the page. Oh, yes, and you can also join me and Sophie for dinner, if you are in the area.

Woo hoo! Lance Elliot Osborne has joined the dinner party. His apologies for the late arrival – he's had an insane week, hit by a storm of family and professional obligations.

Lance is a Texan who grew up twelve miles from Hornsby's bend and two miles from the mountain that in Bold Crossings the Wukubuu's people call “Father of the Great River.” He also grew up with descendants of Malcom Hornsby's family and the tales of their ancestors in the 1830's. These legends, coupled with thorough research regarding all peoples that populated Texas in the same decade, are the makings of Bold Crossings. In his research, he has learned a great deal about the Penatuka Comanche that called central Texas their home. And he is honored to have grown close to his Penatuka Comanche mentors in Lawton, OK during the research process.

Before Bold Crossings, Lance had written in various genres, including for the small and large screens. In fact, when he was seven years old he penned a two-page script for his favorite TV show…

Lance blogs at: http://boldcrossings.jimdo.com

 

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9 Comments

  1. Sounds as though you’re doing some really excellent stuff with the adaptation to a classroom setting. I’d love to have a look at how you’ve put it together some time…:-)

    • Sure, any time Aran. It’s all a bit trial and error ar hyn o bryd. 🙂 I’m wracking my brains to come up with games. And I use heaps of flas cards.

  2. Trial and error is how I explained SSi in Cardiff last week…;-) Maybe when you get to the end of term, we could have a chat?

  3. Interesting to read about your process, Elizabeth. There was actually lots there I could relate to – and the way you ‘bleed’ over your manuscripts is such a powerful description. Chris tagged me too, so I’ve already pondered the topic of my writing process, and can’t help you there, sorry. But you and Sophie enjoy that dinner!

    • Thanks Kathryn. I didn’t make up the bleeding onto the page. I think someone famous may have said it before me. But, it feels like bleeding sometimes doesn’t it.

  4. Great blog, Liz. Sorry I was one of those who let you down – but you did so well without me! Hurry up and send me your finished novel so I can beta read it for you! 🙂

    • You didn’t me down Leisl. You were quite up front about it. I’m getting pretty close on the manuscript. But I’ve found a few of the early chapters needed heaps of re-writing. I thought I may as well do it before I sent it over.

  5. Thank you for your lovely words, Liz. I loved reading about your writing process and having read much of “Keeping Notes” have seen the beautiful weaving of Welsh mythology through this powerful story of immigration. I’m so looking forward to reading the mss in its entirety soon. Thanks for playing tag and sharing your process.

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