Tag: Antonio Vivaldi

Finding your story … easier said than done

Some people are much more comfortable writing first drafts, rushing along like a fully-laden diesel train, without  stopping until the end to check the load. Me, I’m like that little old red, steam engine that could … you know the one, I think I can, I think I can…. ad nuaseum … chugging along, steadily, checking for damage to the undercarriage along the way.

my deskYes, I can’t help but edit as I go. It’s not the final edit – oh no, that’s a long way off. I’ve been so fortunate though – 4 weeks of being able to charge into the first draft for my new novel with no restrictions on my writing time (except I’ve only got one more week left here at the May Gibbs Children’s Literature Trust‘s apartment in Norwood, Adelaide). This freedom is exactly what an author needs! 

My story, VIVALDI’S ANGEL is taking shape … ever so slowly. I’m up to chapter 12 now. By the end of my fellowship residency next Friday, I hope to be close to the end of a first draft.girlIf I’m not it won’t matter – I do have an ending in mind, and a bit of a road map on how to get there. It’s just that my character, Caterina is showing signs of definitely leading the way, and too bad about any map I have already! Which, for a writer is a good thing.VivaldiI have a rough plan of the story. I have lots of scenes I can write before joining them together. I write a rough, hand written copy in my story journal first … then add it to the computer (great for limbering the plotting part of the brain). All sorts of lateral thinking comes during this process.

I have Caterina’s imagined face and Antonio Vivaldi’s known one (did you know he had red hair beneath that wig?) on my drawing board. Plus several images of paintings of Venice and the Venetians back in the 1700s. And of course, I listen to Vivaldi’s music.

I long to finish this first draft! It’s difficult! I’m sure I’ve said this before. I LOVE the editing and rewrite stages. And all those little doubts linger like they do in many writers’ minds … is this story good enough? Will a publisher love it like I do? Will they GET my writing style. Yes, my style is different, but if I wrote like Andy Griffith, Kate Forsyth or Michael Gerard Bauer, it wouldn’t be a Sheryl Gwyther story would it? Viva la difference. Sorry about using your name in vain there, Michael!! I love reading your stories!

The only thing I can control at this stage is my own perseverance. Here’s my mantra …

I WILL finish this story.

I WILL stay confident it’s the bones of a great story!

I WILL try to write without stopping to edit constantly what I’ve written

Ha, fat chance! You’re such a control freak, Gwyther!That’s the muse on my shoulder talking, not me. I don’t think I’m a control freak at all. My desk isn’t tidy, is it? I just have a tidy brain, that’s all.

Dark chocolate frogs help
Dark chocolate frogs help

I’m in heaven … the writerly kind

I’ve settled well in my Fellowship Creative Time Residency in the May Gibbs Children’s Literature Trust‘s gorgeous apartment in Norwood. It’s cosy, roomy and well set up for their chosen Fellows.

Inside the May Gibbs CLT apartment, Adelaide.
Inside the May Gibbs Children’s Literature Trust apartment, Adelaide.

I’m here to finish the ‘first’ draft of my current work-in-process, VIVALDI’S ANGEL. It’s progressing well, thankfully! How lucky am I to be able to have this four weeks time to escape into the 18th Century Italian Baroque, to Venice and into the lives of street urchin, Caterina L’Artiglia (the Claw), and that genius, the composer, virtuoso violinist and music teacher, Antonio Vivaldi. Yes, I do play my tiny collection of some of Vivaldi’s 500 concertos to help me on my way.

My main character, 12-year-old, Caterina’s ‘voice’ grows stronger in my brain – I suspect it’s always been there but I wasn’t listening very well. But where did that stray, three-legged black cat come from? I had no intention putting a cat in this story, and yet, there she is. That’s what I love about discovering a story – you never know where it will lead.

I do know the ending though, and much of what is to unfold. That’s because I’m a ‘plotter’, rather than a ‘pantser’ so I have a rough outline that evolves naturally as I follow the desires and ultimate journey of my main character, a feisty, street child who’s cursed with a claw-hand, but blessed with the voice of an angel. Vivaldi also plays his part in this plot.

One of the famous images by Canaletto, who lived there at the time.
One of the famous images by Canaletto, who lived there at the time.

I also get to be the author-in-residence for Scotch College’s junior school – a lovely place in beautiful surroundings. Started my week today with them, and what a great bunch of kids and librarians they are. Thank you, Fiona and Lucy for preparing my way. It’s going splendidly in their lovely library. Today, I worked with Years 3/4s and Year 6s. Hopefully my throat and voice will hold out until the end of the week – but it’s going to be a great one! Now, back to writing I go.

With Years 3/4s.
With Years 3/4s Scotch College, Adelaide.