#AmWriting: M&M

With a drafted novel in the blue folder in the middle drawer, I decided to move on temporarily with the next writing project and give the other one some time to settle and ‘land’ in my mind. With my note pad always at hand, I jot down new ideas, angles, character traits, plot twists, or other flashes of inspiration that come a-flying. Let it suffice to say I’ve got a few extremely tempting ideas in those notes… it’s making me feel even more excited and motivated in starting rewriting the first draft!

But we keep that drawer closed for now.

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Photo by Tony Hart Photography

The current #AmWriting project is one that I’ve written before, but then in the form of a screenplay. A few weeks ago I had an idea to turn this fairytale into a children’s book and that’s exactly what I’m doing now. It will go under the code name of M&M for now (writing out titles of unfinished projects feels as close to a jinx as you can come without a wand/potion/owl).

I thought: Easy. I’ve got the story, the characters, the plot. It’ll be a matter of simply writing it down. A nice in-between activity.

Wrong-o!

To ‘simply write it down’ would not do this story justice. Far from it.

While I’m keeping the visual flair of the story, a book needs more description, whether in dialogue or prose. So I’m taking the characteristics of the screenplay with me into novel writing, hoping that the visuals will provide an exciting and  imaginative dimension to the natural beauty of the story. Besides, the screenplay was only 12 minutes long and the book was thought to become around 40-50,000 words, so there are certainly bits to be filled in.

However, I remain positive. I love this story – in fact, I feel  such a strong & rare affinity to it. Like it’s a separate thing urging me to take the reins and channel its message through my writing. Become the vessel. As if it needs me.

As if the muse has come at last; as if she’s tapping me on the shoulder, telling me that it’s time. 

N.

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Review: Norwegian Wood

Just finished Norwegian Wood (1987) by Haruki Murakami. As usual I’m a little late with hypes, but I blame this lack of Nobel-Prize-style literary adventures on the recent exploration project of YA fantasy/SF in the name of research. At any rate, I picked up this novel two days ago – and found myself glued to its pages. I’m replacing it in my bookshelf with a dreamy, slightly dazed mind, not quite able to let go.

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It echoes plenty of Catcher in the Rye (J.D. Salinger), the world famous classic that never gets old. Murakami definitely follows in Salinger’s footsteps with this novel, but there are critical differences.

While the protagonist of Catcher in the Rye throws his story at you, not caring one bit whether you want to listen or not,  Norwegian Wood presents itself with a sober melancholy that reaches all the way into my heart. Toru Watanabe, the main character, is not apologetic about his story, not at all. Instead there is an urgency in his telling, not undercut in any way by the opening scene where a song from the past brings back terrible memories and sparks his telling of his youth.

Having lived in Tokyo, every word depicting its lights, its bustle, its anonymous atmosphere materialises in my inner eye through Murakami’s description. It takes me there. I can imagine that this deep-felt reality of his Tokyo also manifests itself in a mind unfamiliar with its physical being. Watanabe the speaker gently takes the reader’s hand and leads her safely through Shibuya, Shinjuku, and Kobayashi – much like Naoko does the protagonist himself in the novel.

There is never any danger. The slippery balance act always present in the narrative of Catcher in the Rye is not threatening here. Instead Murakami holds his reader’s hand, sometimes letting it go, but always making sure that he’s there, ironically, ready to catch.

I think many readers can identify with at least one of the characters in Norwegian Wood, irrespective of background or history. The perpetual loneliness infecting their hearts paints the image of a universal state of mind, here brought to a deeper, visceral level.

It felt strange to relate so strongly to a character (I will not say which one), to see my thoughts put down in print by an author so far away in time and space. But there they were.

Perhaps that is the strength of Norwegian Wood? Its universality, its ability to understand, to comfort, to rationalise all that which we feel as a jumbled mess in our hearts? Norwegian Wood doesn’t concern itself with every human problem in the world, but it takes one of the most fundamental ones – loneliness – and breaks it down into comprehensible entities: atoms of matter, easier to handle (if not to understand).

I think it safe to say that Norwegian Wood will not leave my conscious mind for a long time.

N.

#AmReading: Knox

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The Rainbow Opera (2005)
Elizabeth Knox

A quick update on my reading at the moment! A year ago I picked up the sequel to this novel in a second hand book shop, without realising it was a sequel. Its companion has now joined my shelf and I’ve leaped into an original world of Dreamhunters and entwined stories…

The prologue is masterful in every component and leaves the reader no choice but to go into chapter one. Knox’s fantasy is of that magical kind that the likes of Pullman and Rowling have managed before: indirect, visual, convincing, enchanting, memorable. And not a vampire in sight!

I’m very excited to continue exploring the world of this NZ gem!

N.

First First Draft!

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Finishing a novel is something I’ve wanted to do since I wrote my epic 4,000 word crime “novel” at age 14. I told my teacher then that I was worried I couldn’t write “long things,” She said I could. While this pile of paper is merely a first draft and in dire need of serious editing, cutting, adding, etc in true Pantser fashion, and even if it would end up unpublished at the bottom of a drawer or abandoned in the rubbish bin (I would never!), I can tell her that she was right. 

The manuscript has deserved a nap. In a couple of weeks I shall pick it up again and polish it to perfection in preparation for a tough crowd to dig their eyes and claws into these precious words. Until that point I’ll begin thinking about the next project – there are a few ideas floating around and it’s simply a matter of deciding what to do next. I’ll keep you posted!

Once more I’d like to reach out a humble thanks for reading and commenting. It’s a lonely business, writing. Friends – far or away, familiar or not – and encouraging words mean the world when you’re tapping away in a closed off room for the hundredth day in a row. Thank you, thank you, and thank you again!

We’re still far away from our destination, but “BE” and I will get there eventually.

Lots of love, N.