I keep saying I'm going to blog about this and keep forgetting. So here goes. In our VONA novel workshop, Chris Abani gave us this 'homework' for after the (very intense) workshop:
1. Put your novel away for one month. Don't read it, look at it, or start rewriting it.
2. During this month, read novels, watch television and movies. Absorb and study everything you can about storytelling. (Chris promised us reading list(s) in August, but told me in the meantime I should read James Baldwin's "Giovanni's Room" which I am about half-way through now).
3. After one month, STILL don't look at your novel, but rewrite (from memory) the first 60 pages of your novel, longhand. Yes, longhand.
He said we'd be amazed at what we came out with at the end (in the longhand 60 pages). That by this time we woud've sliced away / forgotten all the unnecessary stuff and be left with the raw, nerve-hitting, essential stuff of the novel. I'm pretty sure that me and all the other women that were in Chris' class are going to try it. We'll see how it goes. I for one am enjoying having permission to not work on my novel for a month! But Chris says that research, and reading other novels, and watching TV and movies, etc. is all part of the process too. (And I am working on a short story that is completely separate from the novel, so I'm still writing, which is good).