Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Following the Process

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).


Trenee said...

Hey, Chris Abani is here at Hurston/Wright. I wish I could peek in and hear a few of the things he's doing/saying in his workshop. Mat Johnson has been wonderful though.

I might have to use some of the tips you mentioned for my own piece. The only problem is, I don't want to leave it alone right now. The story has been stalking me like an evil spirit in a haunted mansion. Okay, that was corny. Somebody out there is saying to themselves, "she ain't gon' neva' get published...mmm-hmmm..."

Rona Fernandez said...

Haha. Sometimes you just gotta let the corny out. ;) That's what blogs are for! I hope you have a great time and get a lot out of the Hurston/Wright week. Can't wait to hear more about Mat Johnson's workshop too.

mel said...

That's cool he said you could absorb storytelling in other ways - and included tv and movies! The longhand advice is really compelling, too. Often I longhand by default since I don't have a laptop, and i think it does end up with interesting results.

btw, yes, that excerpt from Jessica's class was from my novel. I'm just trying to keep moving with it right now, but would love to hear what you think.s

Rona Fernandez said...

Hey Mel, yes i'd love to see the rest of your novel sometime soon. are you working on a excerpt for it for the philippine SF anthology? let's get together soon, maybe 1st week of august to check-in on our progress for that deadline. love, rona