Graphology 101

This week I completed the outline and scene breakdown for Kiwiana Charlatan in preparation for next week’s Playwrights’ studio. What’s surprised me the most is how tiring it has been to switch between two projects – my novel and the new play. I honestly thought I would be able to say “OK brain, we’re working on the play/the novel today; access those files and let’s go, go!!” So reality is not quite like that…

Partly my delusion was fueled by the number of projects that I did last year – a draft of a novel, drafts of two plays, a screenplay, a short film script and two short story drafts…suffice to say I was busy. What my brain has glazed over in the intervening months is the fact that I had blocked discrete time for each project – I wasn’t doing two major projects at the same time.

So after that set up, the following may seem as if I’m making an excuse. I’m not, the thought coincidently entered my head and seems to be a good solution to the “too many projects are taxing my brain” dilemma.

This week I thought that I’d stop writing my novel.

What?! I hear you say, stop the novel? Are you mad? It is no where near finished, you have commitments to fulfill and a new mentor to meet…I know, I know; but I am going somewhere with this.

Shall I explain my thought a little further?

A couple of years ago I won an award for a short film script in the E Tuhi Maori writing awards (now called Pikihuia).  Huia publishers asked if I had thought about writing a novel…

This is the part that writers are not going to believe. Most of the other writers I know have an idea for a novel, if not a complete draft tucked away in a drawer somewhere. I am, as usual, contrary to everyone else – I did not have a handy manuscript tucked away somewhere ( that I could whip out cooking show style “here’s one I prepared earlier”) nor did I have an idea. But I thought I’d be up for a challenge.

So in a way I feel like I’ve been playing catch up. My first draft was spent trying to find a story in the vague idea I had about an old woman who bought cards for random people, and a young woman who is unable to find her passion for life. The kind of stuff that swirls around your head for a month, or a year, or a decade before you even start writing. The second draft felt more like a first draft.

To keep up with my schedule, I did the bare minimum in research regarding the graphology in the book. A wee problem for a novel called The Graphologist’s Apprentice doncha think? So instead of diving headlong into a third draft I thought it might be prudent to do some research now.

Of course I had the option to do it earlier, but I’m kind of glad I held off. One of the things I was worried about was “Moby Dick” syndrome. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not about to dis an American classic. Well, maybe a little bit. Moby Dick is an intimidating book, and a lot of the pages are taken up with description of whaling. It doesn’t really advance the story, nor make the reader feel more empathetic towards Ahab’s obsession. It is the stuff that was cut when it was adapted for the silver screen. It seems to me as if Melville couldn’t part with the research that he had done. I certainly didn’t want to fall into that trap, having clunky bits that were more about showing off what I found out than advancing the story.

So that’s my plan. Research graphology enough to write parts of Mae’s manuscript, but not too much that I begin to stray from the story.

It’s not writing, but it’s not not writing.

*COMING UP* In my bid to forgo sleeping all together, I’ve agreed to be part of a team for the 48 hour film festival. The team is called “The Goat Embryo Project” and we’re going to be filming on Matiu/Somes Island. Maybe if I time the generator windows correctly I’ll be able to blog there, but if not I’ll give a wrap up at the end of the project.


Filed under The Graphologist's Apprentice

4 responses to “Graphology 101

  1. Good luck with your research. All of your projects sound interesting – a lot on your plate – no?! I have a character in a novel I’m currently writing who sounds like she might be Alice’s sister!
    Love your blog – see you soon.

  2. Whiti

    Thanks for your comment – I’m glad Alice has a sister, I worry about her at Christmas time!

  3. I had exactly your philosophy when researching butterfly collecting. I didn’t want to take the reader off into tangents about butterflies and their habitat, breeding habits etc. I put in some stuff about techniques for catching and preserving, but only as much as served the story. I hate reading books where the story is just a vehicle for the research. I certainly read widely, but only a fraction of my new-found knowledge (since forgotten) made it in.

  4. Whiti

    Oh good. I don’t think I’m so lazy anymore…

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s