Please welcome back guest Gaëtane Burkolter: born in Africa, she spent her early childhood in Switzerland, grew up in Australia and recently completed a four year stint in Italy. Gaëtane has a Bachelor of Arts (Communications) from the University of Technology, Sydney, and almost twenty years of experience in government communications and public relations. Becoming a parent relatively late in life opened the floodgates to long-suppressed creativity, and she is now a multi-passionate artist pursuing writing, photography, and painting. As an introvert and low-techer, she is undecided about whether she has what it takes to make it in the rough and tumble of the publishing world, but has “sneakily completed” the first draft of a sci-fi novel anyway.
Read more of Gaëtane’s musings on how to manage anxiety and other messy feelings for creative types on FaceBook, with her group First Aid for Writers, catch her on Instagram @cajetanedesign, and connect with her through comments to this post—but please note she will be responding from her home in Australia, and because of the time difference from the U.S., there may be a delay in her replies.
Me and My Excite-O-Meter: Having Fun With Structural Revision
I hit a rough patch a few weeks back, heading into deep revision of my first fiction manuscript. I didn’t know where to start. Overwhelm set in and then I panicked. What do I know about fixing up a dirty first draft? Where am I going to get the energy to trawl through that sucker? How could I possibly drag myself up off the floor to face my mistakes after the triumph of crashing through to ‘The End’?
And the most horrible, awful thing of all? The reams of advice out there. So many guidelines, so many excellent insights, so many guaranteed formulas for success. Terrifying.
I knew I needed to assess the overall structure of my novel. I also knew there was a veritable canon of texts I could draw on.
I was scared to go there. I mean, some days I call this manuscript my crash test dummy. How could I hope to align that mess with all those fabulous formulas? Unfortunately, as a newbie novelist, anxiety often gets in the way, not just of my best work, but of any work at all.
After faffing about for several long days (okay, you caught me – it was weeks) I decided I needed to lighten up. I exhort my kids all the time to just have fun with school projects, after all. If I couldn’t face using formal techniques to assess my novel for revision, then it was time to get down to serious play. Even Einstein believed that ‘associative play seems to be the essential feature in productive thought’ and I’m not one to argue with geniuses. Genii? Moving on.
People, I invented an Excite-o-Meter.
Oh yeah. You know you wanna know more. [Read more…]