Thursday, July 22, 2010

Holiday Writing

OK I'm not talking about travel writing, where intrepid backpackers write to Lonely Planet about how the rice-wine is in the bamboo hut accommodation of the Cambodian rain forest. I'm also not talking about the writing you might do when you are on holidays - which for me is usually a combination of describing things I've seen during the day that caught my eye, or scribbling down ideas and other snippets that have popped into my mind.

The sort of holiday I'm thinking about is the sort you get when you change jobs - the 'out of the frying pan into the fire' sort of holiday when people nod knowingly and say - 'Ah, yes. A change is a good as a holiday!'

I've been editing large novel projects for years now, seemingly in an endless loop. Recently I've broken that pattern and written the first three chapters of an Urban Fantasy. Writing something that was completely contemporary was a lot of fun, and I got a chance to describe bits of Brisbane I grew up in as well. But following that I really felt like I needed a break from novels - so I gave myself a holiday. A writing holiday:)

I did not actually go anywhere, what I did was let myself go completely into a fantasy idea that has been floating around for a while. With nothing more than the proverbial smell of an oily idea and no concept where the whole thing was going to end up - I just unleashed myself. It was great fun, and fantastic to let myself get that far mentally into a first draft exercise without scrutinising myself to severely. The project ended up coming in at just under 18,000 words - a supremely unmarketable length! But I love it.

It made me realise how much fun it is to let the brakes off, to let yourself get right into something that is grabbing you by the heart.

It was nice writing holiday. Now that I am back I have to edit it. Damn!

What sort of writing holidays to you give yourself?


Anonymous said...

A couple of weeks ago, Sarah wrote about putting *all* of yourself into your writing. I think this is a bit of the same thing. You have to let off the brakes or the accelerator just won't have the same effect.

Personally, I felt like my brain had been hijacked. I like the "writing vacation" idea better.


Anonymous said...

Sorry guys, but this is a test post. I've been getting an error page whenever I try to post, so I'm trying again to see if it's worked itself out. Thanks.


Anonymous said...

Yaaay! It's letting me post now...the first time in about a week.

Holidays. Really the only holiday I get at this point in my writing since I don't write nearly as much as I ought to, is to decide ahead of time to just write and not care if it sucks. That's freeing because it probably will, but then I can go ahead and take seeds from it. This is usually when I'm not working actively on a story and I just need a new one or want to try a new one.


Chris McMahon said...

Hi, Matapam. It was a lot of fun to get right into that fantasy novella. The piece was something a little different for me as well. I really enjoyed immersing myself in it.

When I 'came up' to the real world again and had to consider the detailed work of the editing, and start to grapple with all the same old though processes - 'Will people think its crap? Where the hell can I send it? Will anyone want something like this?' That's when I knew that I really had been on holiday:)

Chris McMahon said...

Earth to Linda, post received. Craagh*&!!@@. Earth out.

Chris McMahon said...

Hi, Linda. This was very much the same sort of thing for me. What surprised me so much was how great it was to do it. I think all first drafting should be this way. For that period you need to let it flow without second guesses.

For me, I think it showed me I really have been doing too many re-writes and not enough new work over the last few years. Plus - this game is so tough, its good to let yourself have some pure enjoyment with it.

Kate said...

Fanfic. Nice egoboo, no real expectations, and if it really stinks, you can toss it and start fresh.

Chris McMahon said...

Hi, Kate. I've never really thought of doing fanfic. Have you done much?

Anonymous said...

How could I have forgotten the fan fic extravaganzas?

You know when you read something and it fires off eighteen new ideas? Sometimes it is easiest to get them down without inventing all new characters and settings right then.

Then if the idea's got anything to it, it morphs, you go back and rewrite the start. The last time it happened was reading Dave's Dragon Ring. His dragon had two names and . . . what if every dragon was a split personality? Both a good dragon and a bad dragon. And the better he was, the worse he was, as well.

So now I've got a 36K word first draft filled with /// need to hint at romance between Jason and Scarlet/// and ///maybe a steamy scene with Homer and the Bimbo here?///

Thank you, Dave. And where am I going to find the time to finish this one, eh?


Amanda Green said...

Chris, love the post. Of course, the last time I let myself have "holiday writing" the result was the novel that shall not be named. Kate, hush! Just because I inflicted it on you doesn't mean you get to let my secret out. Actually, when I let myself go on "holiday" it seems like what I write is totally unlike anything I've done before. One of my two current WIPs came from a break I gave myself. Now I'm trying to finish it. Fingers crossed that I can because it's fun.

Linda, sorry you've been having trouble posting. Blogger's been, well, obstinate the last few weeks. In case you missed it, your title won the contest. I think I left my email in last Sunday's post. If not, poke me here and I'll get it to you.

Rowena Cory Daniells said...

I think what you're saying Chris is what I said to my daughter 2.5 years into her 3 year degree in Jazz Vocals.

She had studied singing so much that she had lost her passion for it. I told her she should forget all the expectations and just do it for fun.

We forget how to have fun sometimes.

Dave Freer said...

I must give myself one...

Chris McMahon said...

Hi, Amanda. Glad you enjoyed the holiday. I'm trying not to think too much about how marketable my novella is:)

Chris McMahon said...

Hi, Rowena. So true! I have worn myself into the ground trying to break through - but when nothing comes back year after year, its hard to keep that passion alive. That's why it was so great for me.

Chris McMahon said...

Hey, Dave. Don't you live in a holiday destination? Each day is a new day in paradise, fishing and creating new orange mind bullets;)