Updates about writing the final instalment in the Lifespan of Starlight trilogy: Edge of Time:


#5 in the countdown to release: artist residency

Today is the final work day of my artist residency with Jacky Winter Gardens and I'm finding one scene in my novel frustratingly difficult to resolve. I can feel its truth hovering just out of my reach, and can't find a clear way to hold onto it. But this sort of struggle is part of the creative process so I can accept the frustration. My time here has reminded me that insights take time - such as the symbolic waterline. When you first walk into the house, a seemingly minor element framing the space is a midnight blue skirting board - it's a block of colour that stays the same level as you descend the stairs into the sitting room (the blue stripe is around knee high here) and finally down to the bedroom at the lowest level, where it's about waist height and level with the bed. The effect is like wading into a deepening ocean as you move through the house - a symbolic descent into your own subconscious, or perhaps creative spirit. It's one of my favourite aspects of the house. And I didn't even notice it until I'd been here for three days.



#6 in the countdown to release: artist residency

While working on the Lifespan trilogy, I've grown increasingly aware of my relationship with time. After all, it is a time travel story. While working here in the studio at Jacky Winter Gardens, I've found myself slowing down - reading existing scenes on paper rather than on screen, and writing new scenes by hand rather than typing - both slower, more contemplative ways of working. It's as if the house itself is helping me to soften, to sit and consider. What a precious gift - a softening of time.


#7 in the countdown to release: artist residency

Just arrived for an artist residency at beautiful Jacky Winter Gardens but instead of reading through my manuscript l find myself reading about the wallpaper instead. Everything here, even this gorgeous wallpaper by Marc Martin, has been carefully chosen. The effect is a sense of pure balance, between art and function, between nature and technology, and between solitude and the many artists who have spent time here. What an amazing place.


#8 in the countdown to release: real-world inspiration

Like many writers I do my best thinking while out for a walk or a run so here are some images from one of my regular routes: trees that fell during the 2016 floods in northeast Victoria.

It's probably no surprise that images of environmental breakdown kept feeding into the final instalment of the Lifespan trilogy, which I was developing at the time.

Books, however, take long months to write so I was still writing about dust storms and floods while the mud on my running path had long eased into the earth; tiny blue wrens would flit around to pick insects out of the massive root balls of fallen trees. It was the natural regeneration along the route that helped me see I wasn't just writing about environmental collapse but also about the resilience of the natural world.

The final image shows a section of the path that was completely submerged during the floods, which now has a healthy clump of grass growing through concrete. It often makes me smile as I pass - nature pushing through the cracks of human 'civilisation'.
It speaks to me of resilience and, ultimately, of hope.

March 2017


#9 in the countdown to release:

I've just submitted the first draft of Edge of Time (Lifespan trilogy, book 3), so thought I'd post about my rewriting process. The word count circled in yellow is the file I just submitted, and the word count circled in red is from a file I call 'Extras' - essentially, it's all the sentences and scenes I've deleted while writing (it's my way of dealing with the frustration of needing to rewrite something I've worked over for days).

The point I'm trying to make is that writing, for me at least, is a process of trial and error, it's a lot of gut feel, and it takes work. It took me 135,000 words in total to end up with less than 60,000 decent ones, and this is even before the editing process has begun. I should add, too, that a lot of the ideas in the 'Extras' file are effectively stepping stones, they helped me find the magic - or the truth, if you like - in the final story.

If you're an aspiring writer - don't lose heart if your first draft isn't perfect. They never are. Keep rewriting, keep believing in the story until it's the best you can make it. And, perhaps, save all your deleted scenes in a file of their own - that way, they're not gone forever, they're just saved for another day.

February 2017