Cover art for Blood and Water, and the joy of second drafts

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The above is the cover art for Blood and Water, the anthology coming out next month from Bundoran Press about resource conflict from a Canadian perspective. I have a story in it called “We Take Care of Our Own.” It’ll be available for sale by mid-August, and there are a few launch parties coming up: both Aug 9 and Aug 10 in Calgary (during When Words Collide) and one in Ottawa in late September, during Can Con. I’ll be at the Ottawa launch.

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I’m too tired to even try to construct a segue, so: asterisk! Onwards! In other news, my revisions on Hold My Body Down are going well. I’m about 12,000 words into the second draft. So much faster and more satisfying than first-drafting.

I’m using Scrivener now, which makes working on a big project so much easier. You can move around chapters and scenes without fussing with cutting and pasting, but you can also see your project as a whole. You can even tag your scenes with keywords, characters etc so you can group them together in various ways to see how a storyline or character arc is progressing. It’s fabulous.

The first draft is about discovering whether the story is a novel. The second draft is about making it a good novel. And everything thereafter is about trying to make it the best possible way of telling that particular story. Really, if you’re not at least aiming for greatness, what’s the point? Michael Cunningham’s recent two-part essay on serving on the Pulitzer prize jury discussed the qualities that make a book Pulitzer-worthy. Even for those of us not dreaming of winning a Pulitzer, it gives a sense of the kinds of anxieties jostling in a novelist’s mind, especially in the second and subsequent drafts.

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I recently joined the online critique group Critters. So far so good. I enjoy it and I think it will be useful. More on that some day soon.

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