31 March 2010

Little Archies

For the Little Archies, a local portrait competition, I am wanting to make a painting of Murray Peters. Muz is a well known local, who works impossible hours with six arms and at least three brains steering the local commercial radio station through the morning. Yesterday, being in attendance at the studio to talk about China justice system and Stern Hu, I took some photos. How to get from these photos to a painting, or should it be something other than a painting? Not just a photo...

25 March 2010

Scrivener, more value of, and Spotlight on the Mac

In working my way through the structure of the novel in Scrivener today, I realised I had lost an important chapter, a thousand words or so on the history of the protagonist's father in China from the 1930s to 1957. I knew it was important, important in informing my head about the weight of direction of the story, whether it was to stay in the story or not. Somewhere it had dropped from an earlier cobbled draft.

I could not find it by looking in all the sensible places. I found it when I realised I could use Spotlight on the Mac to search for key words not mentioned in other places. I remembered that his patron had been the general who had become mayor of Beijing in 1949, so a search for Mayor of Beijing produced the text, the name of General Nie Rongzhen and all the history which I have now been able to improve with fresher mind and seeing where it is able to fit in the structure of the novel, thanks to Scrivener. Yes, I'm pleased to have an application that works for me, helps me organise, rather than shapes me to its own designs.

24 March 2010

Mosaic and paintings

I don't think the writing will flow easily, however, until I get the painting going well again. I have some large items to paint, one to finish. We have been to another mosaic-ing day with Dora. See the report on Dora and Marcus's home page. This was a great way to clear the brain a week after getting off the plane! And we have now a considerable accumulation of tiles and the rest of the necessaries to get more mosaics done on our own. I must work now to produce a painting for SeeChange.

Also from Liz, an introduction to Scrivener.

It is wonderful to use Skype to communicate around the world and I have now discovered the great value of sharing desktops with Skype. That is, in explaining the writing application Scrivener, Liz was able to show me her computer desktop and how she was using Scrivener.
And so I am pleased to report that I have today begun a 30 day trial use of Scrivener. I am not good at making general notes, or actual cards with concepts for what chapters will do. but in several hours I have placed the text of my novel so far into Scrivener and been able to produce in the appropriate space on screen, a note on what each chapter is supposed to do... and sketch out some next chapters.

I have added labels, to indicate the kind of voice and point of view each chapter has, and this means order of a kind I have wanted, and a way to make notes and actually push the text in possible directions. You can click on the first thumbnail image for it to enlarge so you can see a screenshot of the situation after just a beginning. It is the order I need to go forward. The second screenshot shows what happens when I press on the 'corkboard' button... maybe, maybe, the corkboard, but more to the point the main work setup is a great start. The corkboard does display with clarity the colours which denote different voices, so I can get a sense of the balance of that easily with it.

This is a Mac application only, there is a link in the bottom right of the home page of Scrivener to a suggestion for Windows users.

Bill Piggott produced for the meeting of our Berry Writers Group last week a report on his visit to the Adelaide Writers Festival, in which he quoted this very comforting, exciting and reassuring (if you look at it the right way) perspective of Tom Keneally:
The novel, he [Keneally] says, is the big game, the great discourse and you don’t know where it will take you. There is in our subconscious an unseen and unexplored river in a winding valley which is where we go when writing a novel. Writing one is like being a South Seas navigator of old who sets out from one island with the supposition that there is another island out there somewhere, not knowing what they will meet on the way. He [Bill writes] described himself as an ageing writer “fretfully trying to attack ragged windmills with a white-anted lance on a dying horse.”

from Bill Piggott, Bill Goes to Writers Week, March 2010

Back from Italy and resuming course[s]!

We have returned from Italy determined not only to save to go back but also to apply in our lives the sense of living and colour and connection that a month in Italy gave us.

I had taken the novel as was with me, never opened it. Too much to learn and absorb and grow with, as recorded very lightly in the blog.

A lot to do to catch up with practical life. The back yard food garden deserves a blog itself, it has had quite a bit of work now with run for chooks and tomorrow hopefully some Peking bantams installed. The objective of converting a boring grass space into a food jungle is going well. Complexity achieved, its own order coming.

Liz sent a link to a presentation on writer's block that she has given in Portland. This is, in Nick's words, "awesome, solid content wonderfully presented". Indeed, and lots of fun too... But an excellent message about the ordinariness of the struggle in writing.

Let's embed Liz's performance here: