Monday, June 02, 2008

Writing Meets Automobile Repair

From a Kiwi author's perspective, writing a novel is like tinkering with your car.

Lloyd Jones, author of The Book of Fame, is in Ireland for the Listowel Writers' Week, where he has given out his advise to those who would like to write.

You, the author, are under the hood, and you're observing the engine, the carburetor, the radiator. You don't see the car. It's your readers who see the car, and they don't pay any attention to the inner workings.

Of course, the writer has to keep his reader in mind when he's tuning the engine of his manuscript, because Mr. Jones believes that the two must collaborate to make a novel work. But like an auto mechanic, the writer will be somewhat detached from the work at hand. It's a collection of parts that he puts together and makes the thing go. Like a car owner who loves his wheels like a child, it's the reader who provides the emotional element of the novel.

Participating in writing groups proves the truth to Mr. Jones's analysis. Writers are forever raking over their words, all in an attempt to provide the reader with a cathartic experience or a few hours of entertainment. The author doesn't read their own words in the same way as their readers, any more than your mechanic feels anything towards your misfiring pistons.

Like so many other successful authors, Mr. Jones is a firm believer in routine. He writes at the same time every day, to achieve the continuity that is so necessary to put a novel together. Sadly, for most would-be authors, finding a period of time every day is nearly impossible, and may explain why there are far more published authors of the male persuasion. When you've got someone else at home to do the cooking, the cleaning and the general office work, it's much easier to budget an hour of uninterrupted work.

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