Tag: Michael Gerard Bauer

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

Does music soothe your writing beast/muse?

Do you listen to music while you work? A Mozart sonata? John Coltrane’s sax or some classic Miles Davis? A bit of the Cuban touch? Coldplay’s latest CD? Or soundtracks from your favourite movies?

It could be that, to work successfully, you need a blur of background sound to keep away the silence. Or is it deliberately chosen music that fits the mood of the piece you’re writing? Does it relate to your work in progress? Or do you prefer silence?

I’ve asked a few of my writerly friends about  their preferences….

If Australian author, Gabrielle Wang wants to write a particularly emotional scene she might listen to Bach. But apart from those moments she don’t like music on while she writes as she get too carried away by it and can’t focus on the story inside her head.

New Zealand author, Brian Falkner has a very definite way of working – he finds a specific piece of music that reflects the kind of emotion in the scene he’s writing. If it’s an important or emotional scene, he sometimes spends as much time trying to find an appropriate piece of music as he does writing the scene.

I find that the right music can not only affect you emotionally while you are writing, but it can also bring imagery to mind that you can use in the scene.

Usually he uses the music choice once because then it’s become tied to that particular book and scene in his mind.

Here’re some of Brian’s choices, (if you know the music you can imagine the scene he’s writing):
1812 Overture / Barber’s Adagio for Strings  / Quidam (Almost the entire album) – Cirque du Soleil  /  Firebird Suite – Stravinsky  /  Night on Bald Mountain – Mussorgsky  /  Ave Maria – Schubert  /  Oh, Fortuna – Orff /  The Swan – Saint-Saëns

Adagio for Strings (watch it, I guarantee this will send a shiver up your spine – one of the most powerful, poignant compositions ever made).

Australian author, Dee White has a different way to write.

I don’t listen to music. I enjoy writing in the quiet or immersing myself in the sounds of nature outside my door. At the moment, I’m enjoying writing on the deck with the sounds of the river rushing past:)

Claire Saxby, another Aussie children’s author, finds music keeps her going if she’s writing something new, and it tunes out ambient noise. She says beat music will keep the words flying. Favourite titles include Augie March’s two albums, The Frames (Irish band), Waifs, Cat Empire, Paul Kelly. Familiar albums allow for subliminally absorbing – so much so, often she doesn’t notice them finish. 

Michael Gerard Bauer, a fellow Ashgrovian, and the author of the splendid story, The Running Man (and others), confesses to needing silence when he works because he’s easily distracted.

I thought I’d give it a go so I put on a cd but I couldn’t write a thing because I kept listening to the music! Maybe I just didn’t pick the right songs?

Michael does have a point. There is music that is impossible to write by – I’ve tried it. Like Rhythms Del Mundo CUBA. It’s is a collection of musicians, from Coldplay, Sting, Arctic Monkeys, to Quincy Jones and Ibraham Ferrer (from The Buena Vista Social Club) and others playing their music with a Cuban influence – all with the intent of raising funds and awareness about climate change. Great music! But why is it impossible to write by? How can one sit at the computer churning out another story when one is too busy salsa-ing?

Nathan Bransford, U.S. author and blogger doesn’t listen to music much, but his blog has some interesting comments on the topic.

My favourite music to write by depend on what story I’m working on. If it’s an action scene or dramatic dialogue, then it’s the soundtrack from The Lord of the Rings – especially when the Orcs are storming Helm’s Deep. For background music, I’m back in my Celtic ancestry with any of five Loreena McKennitt CDs. Or Paul Kelly’s Songs from The South.

Do you have music favourites to work by? I’d love to hear your choices.

Here’s some music to get you in the groove!  Coldplay‘s Clocks on the album, Rhythms Del Mondo with a very Cuban beat. Even better than the original version.

P.S. My favourite Music quotes:
‘Music is your own experience, your thoughts, your wisdom. If you don’t live it, it won’t come out of your horn.’  ~Charlie Parker

‘Life can’t be all bad when for ten dollars you can buy all the Beethoven sonatas and listen to them for ten years.’  ~William F. Buckley, Jr.


Queensland children’s authors to protest

Many of Queensland’s children’s authors will take part in a peaceful protest in front of Brisbane city’s Dymocks Bookstore on Thursday 16th April.

We disagree with the Coalition for Cheaper Books’ claims that removing the restrictions on the Parallel Importation of Books (PIRs) will allow them to sell cheaper books. This is not guaranteed at all.

The Coalition for Cheaper Books represents booksellers in Australia with a combined market share of approximately forty per cent of book sales. Members are the large franchisee business Dymocks and the major retail chains of Woolworths, Coles, K Mart, Big W and Target. (Productivity Commission’s discussion draft March 2009)

Scrapping the protection of PIRs will cause much damage to the thriving Australian publishing industry; threaten the livelihood of authors by opening the gates to a flood of remaindered books from overseas; and risks losing books that Australian children will identify with.

We do not feel antagonistic towards the staff of Dymocks – it is a difficult situation for all concerned because many of these caring staff  love children’s books and support the authors.

But our continued existence in this industry is threatened by the push to lift the PI restrictions.

Please note: A & R and Borders are two chains owned by RedGroupRetail. They are members of the Australian Booksellers Association and they do not support the abolition of territorial copyright. These two chains have actively supported the submission to the Productivity Commission by the ABA which argued for the retention of territorial copyright.

When: Thursday 16th April 10.30am

Where:  Cnr Queen and Edward Streets, Brisbane

If you are able to support us, please do. Just a reminder – we should ensure Dymocks’ customers have clear access into Dymocks and also pedestrian access along the street.