Sunday, 17 February 2008

What a complex party scene.

Sunny, clouds rolling in, very mild, highs plus 3

Great news - we're in Montreal and Michael found the missing 3,000 words while I paced in the living room and tried to 'let it go' - odd, but it worked. I was quite calm, considering. But it all turned out well. Phew.

Up to 25,000 words in the new book. At a challenging stage though. Without being too specific it's a dinner party at Peter and Clara's. A great deal needs to be said and done. Clues, false clues, mis-direction, characters introduced, characters developed, plot moved along. Mood and scene set. And all without taking 10,000 words to do it. Every word needs to count. So I keep telling myself, just write the first draft of this scene, then spend the rest of the week layering it. But just keep moving ahead, not worrying whether what I have already is perfect. But of course I keep going back over it and smoothing as I go. Nearing an end, I think, of the first draft of this scene. But will keep going back to it this week, layering, adding and shaping, like a sculptor. In fact, as I write the rest of the book I'll probably bounce back to this party scene, and shape some more as ideas occur to me. Most books have at least one sometimes a few extremely complex scenes. And the key, of course, is that they shouldn't read as complex. None of this should be declarative. But light and subtle, entertaining, moving even - but not heavy and dense.

It's a little, I think, like writing a short story within the book itself, or even a poem. It needs to be crafted, and every word needs to defend its place.

Have to say, except for the times I think it's all crap, I love scenes like these. Very difficult. Challenging. Scary. Really pushing me to try to be a better writer. And sometimes, I write things that are actually better than I am. And I'm amazed. Sometimes I write crap. Oh, well. I hope most of that I find and take out.

Very fun. Though slightly stressful.

Had a really fun weekend, when not writing, with our friends Barb and Ian, from Toronto. When they arrived Friday afternoon they were aquaintances, but now they're friends. Had dinner with them and Lucy, from Brome Lake Books, at our home Friday night. Very relaxed. En famille, as we say in Barb, as I think I mentioned in an earlier blog, is the noted children's author Barb Reid. She's been shortlisted 4 times for then Governor General's Award for Children's illustrations. Her website is

Yesterday Ian and Barb took us for a late dinner (we had something else to do earlier in the evening) at a restauranmt about 3 minutes from us, in a farmhouse in the countryside. It's called Il Duetto. Marvelous.

Then today, after writing, Ian and Barb came by the office and Ian spent an hour photographing me, and some with Michael too. He's a professional photographer. His website is: I can look pretty goofy in pictures. I have very little sense of my physical self - except for an almost total awareness of migrating cellulite. I'll put some of his shots up on the website, after a severe photo-shop session.

Actually, I say that but I'd never do it. I think authors who stay with a very old, or doctored, photo do themselves a disservice. When they show up at events everyone is stunned at how they really look. So, a little makeup - I'll shave the moustache - but besides that, I'm 'au natural'.

The Montreal Gazette had a very nice write-up of The Cruelest Month. A huge relief when the local newspaper says nice things. I was on the cover of this past Saturday's book section. There was a feature interview and then a review by Pat Donnally. Both very enthusiastic.

I realize I shouldn't care - but between us? I do. Plan to work on that in the next lifetime.

Hope you're well. For those of you in Ontario - happy Family Day tomorrow. And in the US - a very happy President's Day!

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