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Monday, June 30, 2014

The end is nigh - that's a good thing, right?

I’m a little bit sad. Maybe I’m depressed; at the very least, deflated. It’s weird, I should be overjoyed. The month of June has been a firecracker. I’ve finally worked out an efficient way to do research, and have sped through the fact-checking of Chapters 15 onwards. Once I got the technique right, it was simply a matter of getting on with it. I tried to do a chapter a day, and this week even managed three chapters on some days. Then on Thursday I put Chapters 23, 24 and 25 to bed. Next day was Chapter 26, a bit more fiddly, but still progress. Yesterday, Saturday, I played sport, and watched the footy I’d taped in between working through Chapter 27. There wasn’t as much to change, as I’d already done a fair whack of it when researching Vienna a few weeks earlier. I felt reluctant to start, even a little down. Why am I feeling this way? I think it’s because I’ve nearly finished it. This massive rewrite has been to add descriptive touches, to add texture to the story. I’ve tried not to do too much, although the word count indicates otherwise, as I hate overly descriptive passages and always skip them when I’m reading. When I finish the last two chapters, all I have left to do is go through and change names so that I haven’t inadvertently used real names. Then it’s really out of my hands. I’ve tweaked bits here and there following reader feedback (I’m fortunate to have a handful of willing and trusted volunteers for the task). I’m waiting for other readers to get back to me – which I realise they may or may not do. Having specially selected readers to check my work is one way to make sure it’s as good as I can get it, but it comes with a catch – they have lives of their own, and can’t all get to it despite their best intentions. As a love job, it’s up in the air whether I’ll hear back from them. The next step then is to write a synopsis, a cover letter, and send it off to a publisher. That’s scary. I think that this book works. Finally. I think it’s more like a ‘novel’ than my first book, but with enough different stories and incidents to make it worth a read. It has an audience waiting, and I’m thankful to all those people who read my first book and have said they’re keen to read book two. But if the publisher says no, for whatever reason, then I’ll have to soldier on, pursing other publishers. That’s hard. I want someone else to love my story enough to publish it. And I’m sure that if that happens, there’ll be another stage of editing to come. However, as far as what I can achieve on my own, I’m nearly done. I feel like the book has ‘come alive’ and it’s ready to go out in the world, without me. I’m sad because I’ve been working on it off and on for four years, even longer if you count the snippets of ideas I’ve played with over the time I was writing book one. The past six months, a sabbatical, has been spent with my head firmly in the past, reliving the experiences of 2001. That’s thirteen years ago, crazy stuff. And I’m about to move away from it. Although I’m happy not to be living in the past, I’m sad I won’t have the sense of purpose that ‘being in the writing zone’ has given me. It’s been intense. I think I’ve got separation anxiety. I should be happy, I’m nearly done. There is a feeling of accomplishment, that I’ve managed to finish what I set out to do. Regardless of what happens next, I did that much. But I’m sad. At least I still have book three to work on. But it won’t be the same as book two; that’s a different tussle, a different headspace. I’ve started book three already, worried that if I don’t get a fair bit down before I go back to work, then once back at the grindstone I won’t manage to get back into the writing headspace that this period away from work has enabled me to reach. It’s like being a juggler, with so many balls needing to be up in the air so I can be in the writing zone, characters, events, tips I’ve picked up here and there, having everything in mind requires a clarity and focus that I’m worried will no longer be attainable. But I’m also grateful, not just for the opportunity to use this time to follow my dream, but also the people it’s helped me reconnect with while trying to confirm details of prices and events that happened, and of the support I’ve had from the selected readers who did get back to me, and the encouragement of others who want to read it when it’s done. So a huge thanks to all those people. THANK YOU! But right now it’s a strange feeling, happy sad, bittersweet, unsettling, that this book is nearly done and is ready to send out into the harsh world of publishing. I wanted to pause for a moment to reflect on that feeling – but also to be grateful that I’ve had the opportunity to be where I am right now. Cheers. 

Friday, June 20, 2014

Get your copy at Oxford Street Books

Thanks again to Oxford Street Books in Leederville who have just restocked copies of Road Wench. They were the very first bookstore to take copies of my book, and continue to do so. I'm pretty excited that four years on, Road Wench is still selling. It's not a story that goes out of date. Road Wench is also currently in stock at Dymocks, Midland Gate and at Beaufort Street Books in Mount Lawley. Online orders can be made via or directly to my email. Alternatively the Australian Online Bookshop at will take orders and can get stock in on request. Thanks again to all my readers. It's a solitary experience when writing, but sharing my story with you is very interactive, like having one heck of a long conversation. I hope you like Book 2 - Road Wench Rides Again. It's almost ready, not quite but nearly there. Now, back to Draft 5... Shannon Meadows

Draft 5 - It's Alive!

Where have all the months gone? It feels like they have just slipped away. All too soon I will have to resume my day job, my lovely sabbatical of hours to do with as I wish being almost over. And yet, it has been productive. In March I put things on hold and went on a trip up to Ningaloo. Fresh air, hot days, and time away from writing was exactly what I needed. After the break I managed to resume my writing duties. However, this time has seemed to be the s-l-o-w-e-s-t of all. Drafts 2 to 5 have come and gone, but instead of being enjoyable 'aha!' breakthroughs, a sense of success, it has been a slow and painstaking process. I suppose there was one little moment, a 'that's it, that's what I'm talking about' moment, when the former Chapter 19 (horrid creature that it was) finally bent into shape and became a readable being. I called it draft 2, but really, that was when I knew I had something that I (and hopefully others) would want to read. So why isn't it done yet? What have I been doing with my time? My friends have stirred me up with comments like 'all that free time you've got' and I've managed not to thump them. That's the problem when you're like a hermit, it's hard to reengage with people after all that time spent word-wrangling, alone. They have a point. What have I been doing? Draft 2, as I mentioned, was to get Chapter 19 to the end into the right shape. It was like training for sport, doing laps, until I got it right. Draft 3 was to get rid of all my 'reminders', capitals and 'notes to self' about what to add/check/reword and so on. That draft was sent to some more readers (family got the job of reading and approving Draft 2). Onto Draft 4 - description. I don't like it. I don't read it. Whenever I read a book I skip over the description, to find out 'what happened next'. But if I want to improve my writing, a little description here and there can add texture. So I started. I got halfway then passed it on to two more readers. Then I kept going. Now as well as rewriting and adding in little touches of description, a phrase here and there, I'm also researching. Fact checking. I experienced all the things that happened in the book, but I wanted to take it one step further, and doublecheck my material. For all I knew I had been misinformed the first time. Also I realised that once it's out there, I can't get the book back off readers and say 'hang on, let me change page 45'. Once it's done, it's gone. Out there. So I see this as a bonus, as a way to add more depth to a story which, ironically, I'm hoping is an easy, quick read. It's not like I'm going to get such a chance to do this again, I have the time to do it now. It's just that it takes So Much Time to check anything at all, then the rewrite, a few hours and my mind is scrambled and I'm useless for the rest of the day. Darn brain, it should work harder and for longer. Anyway having said all this, I'm kind of glad I'm doing it. I've added a little on character along the way, but I suspect when I get a publisher they'll have changes anyway. I just wanted it to be as close to the best version I could get it, before I shared it with a publisher. Before the rollercoaster ride begins. So that my vision is clear. I plan to submit it soon, very soon, but right now I'm holding myself back, trying to do these last little bits of icing on the cake. And now, back to researching Chapter 15...