Tuesday November 17th – Day 13


Another ordinary – if writing can ever be described as ordinary, as no two days are ever the same – day. Realised I’d made one or two errors yesterday, so had to go back and highlight changes for the second draft, and had to switch between characters, which always takes a little time in adjustment. The reason for this is because the language you allocate one person doesn’t always work for another, and because of their back-story, each individual reacts in their own individualised fashions. Shona is thirty-five and not the most confident of individuals principally because of her turbulent childhood; Simon is twenty-seven, a journalist and therefore very determined, though with perhaps more compassion than your stereotypical movie hack; and Daniel, the clandestine immigrant is… Well, nobody is too sure of his age and explaining more about his character would require a spoiler alert, so we won’t go there. Changing characters, in a multi-voiced novel, is a little like changing cars right in the middle of a race: you could, at driver change-over, jump straight into the car: it would save time. However, writing a story is a long-distance race and not a sprint, so it pays to take your moulded seat with you otherwise a few laps in, you grow very aware you’re uncomfortable and can’t concentrate, because the seat you’ve got your backside in has been made for someone else’s quite possibly more generous contours.

It struck me last night that writing a novel is a little like applying Cognitive Behavioural Therapy. Bear with me on this; I know that sounds a touch left field. In Therapy 101, Jeffrey C. and Minnie Wood used their own experiences with the writing and publishing of their insights into Modern Psychotherapy Techniques as examples to illustrate common distortions in thinking to which CBT can be applied. My favourite observation regards reactions to positive and negative reviews. I’ll paraphrase: positive review – the reviewer is just being kind: negative review – the reviewer will obliterate your career. Apparently, that’s known as minimization and MAGNIFICATION. I so know that feeling and how much better do I feel now that my ridiculous reactions are explained? Yet it is the end of the chapter about CBT that makes the most sense regarding the practice of writing. Again, I’ll paraphrase: they suggest you write a couple of sentences summarising whatever’s on your mind, how it makes you feel and what your thoughts are. Then, note down the evidence that both supports and contradicts the former. Finally, write a balance that sits somewhere comfortably between the two and examine the way you feel. If you feel more positively disposed to what is on your mind, then you are in a better place. This is often the method a writer employs to examine a line or paragraph or chapter and ascertain whether each segment justifies its inclusion. Mind you, and according to some reviews, there have been too many times when I’ve left out what I should have included and included what I SHOULD HAVE LEFT OUT. But that’s the way the ink dries.

Ciao. Until tomorrow.


  • Diary Day

Further Reading

What You Don't Know About Me

Constant Tides

The Wind between Two Worlds

The Truth in Fiction

Ontreto: A Novel of Lipari

Boarding House Reach

Mazzeri: Love and Death in Light and Shadow