I'm bored, so here's a couple of paragraphs from a random page of my novel:
"My brain was knocking on the side of my skull and whatever was in my stomach was trying to do the same. I'd woken up with a hangover that stopped just short of having to pray at the great white altar. My tolerance for booze was at an all time low.
It was only an interview for a fake job, but I was already thinking about taking time off. A quick shower, shave, a strong coffee, some pills, and the mirror told me lies about how I felt."
Wednesday, November 30, 2005
I'm bored, so here's a couple of paragraphs from a random page of my novel:
Tuesday, November 29, 2005
"... a waitress slapped the back of my hand."
I'm rewriting a very early scene in the novel. The characters are clearer to me now that I've spent so much time with them, so I need to make sure the first half of the novel rings true for each of them.
The words above are the ones I meant to type, but after re-reading the last page or two, they came out a bit different in the word processor:
"... a waitress slapped the back of my mind."
I would love to see that happen, out in the real world, or better still, I'd like to feel it myself.
Would it hurt? Would my thoughts become all messed up? Would I forget my PIN number? Or worse, would I accidentally transfer all of my money to someone else?
# 11:15 pm
I've been thinking about this for a couple of weeks now. Ever since I got an email from a lady that takes her art seriously.
Can I really joke about crime?
I wonder if I'm being true to my characters if I do. They've taken on a shape of their own, a life beyond the page and the words I have laid before them. They have feelings, desires, and reasons for both. When they commit a crime, there is a dark force inside them, driving them to an extreme version of themselves, a version capable of murder.
How did they end up there? Did they think about who they were becoming along the way, did they question themselves as they walked along the road to damnation?
Would they be pissed off if I made a joke at their expense, just to get a laugh out of my readers?
My life has been unblemished by such dire circumstances. I've been in a protective bubble for most of my upbringing. It wasn't until I moved out on my own that I went out to see what those mean streets are for myself. And I certainly didn't get involved in anything approaching violent crime. But the more research I do, the worse I feel about writing crime comedy. I feel like I'm taking advantage of a situation for my own personal gain.
There is another side to all of this. There's the Mel Brooks version of comedy.
If I cut my finger, that's a tragedy, but if someone else falls into an open manhole and dies, that's comedy.
Comedy brings happiness to people's lives and laughter is scientifically proven to be good for your health. If I meditate on that, I can do something good for other people. Maybe make them feel a bit better about themselves and their life. Maybe even stop them from committing a crime.
So I'm back at the start now. Didn't take long. I don't think I've been particularly rigorous about my exploration of the question, but I do have an answer.
Yes. I can do whatever the hell I please. Hopefully no one will beat me up for it.
Thursday, November 24, 2005
Someone recently asked me these questions and I thought it was worth putting my answer here.
How do I do it?
I just do it. I make sure I write something every day, and an hour a day is far better than cramming in a weekend of writing once a month.
Do what you can to minimise distractions: attach the keys permanently to your husband (you can choose where), tell the kids to leave you alone during your special 'writing time', set up a desk in a room where you won't be disturbed, or maybe even get hold of a laptop and sit out in the backyard. Get the rest of your family to walk the dog every night for an hour.
That's the practical side. I'd say the other side was emotional.
What is stopping you from getting past chapter 2?
It's not time, because you can make time if you truly want to. So I'd say it's something like your 'inner critic'. Tell that voice that keeps telling you the writing isn't good enough to shut up. Ignore it. Write silly, stupid things just for the fun of it. As Hemingway said, the first draft of anything is shit. The real sweat is the revision process. But before you can get to that you need to let your inspiration flow uninhibited. Have a glass of wine if it helps. Even if all you do is write a sentence every day, you'll find that your writing muscles start getting stronger. Keep at it.
When you're not writing, think about writing. Watch people and look for the little details that make them who they are. Notice everything around you and start thinking how you could turn everything into a story. Do that for a couple of weeks and your brain will be overflowing with ideas. Write them down in a special notebook.
I can also recommend to you all the books I have on my website. I've read them all and they've all helped. I'm almost addicted to reading books on writing.
What else can I say? I love bookshops, but you don't have to. Just love books. Read them and try to figure out why they made you stay up all night even though you have to get up early in the morning so you can get the kids ready for school.
Writing groups? I'm too chicken to go myself. I've been meaning to join a Thursday night group but haven't. All I've done is paid for a year's membership with the NSW Writer's Centre. That way I can say I'm a member. And I get a newsletter, and 10% off books at various stores.
I may not be a member of a writing group, but I have found something that's just as good. The Mystery Writer's Forum. It's specialised of course, but the feedback I've had from other writers has been invaluable. Maybe you can find something on the net that suits whatever writing you find the most interesting. There's lots out there.
Now, start writing. And keep writing!
Me, I'm going back to bed. I'm sick. Sniffle.
Tuesday, November 22, 2005
Writing is not so much something you do as something you are.
When I came home from a Diamanda Galas concert recently, I absolutely had to write about my experience. I sweated in front of my laptop until I had written what turned out to be a review of the concert. I put it up on this site and left it at that. It was just something I had to do.
A month later, I received an email from the woman herself, asking for permission to use my review on her site. I paced around the room, leaving trails in the carpet, wondering whether I should let her. I had to weigh up the pros and cons of the situation before I went ahead with it.
Can you tell I'm lying?
You can read all about it in the recent press section of the Diamanda Galas website, and here's the direct link.
It's a very satisfying feeling to find out that a piece of writing you had to do also had the ability to touch someone else.
Especially when that person is the one you wrote about.
Monday, November 21, 2005
Can't hold out. Any. Longer. Must. Blog about. Unofficial encouragement.
I entered the Debut Dagger awards a number of months ago, didn't make the short list, and stopped thinking about it. Last week, I received this email:
First of all, thank-you for entering this year's Debut Dagger. As you've probably seen from the mailing list or the website by now, I'm afraid you didn't make the shortlist. One of the difficulties of entering a competion like this is that if you don't reach the shortlist, it's hard to get a sense of where you stand, so I wanted to write and let you know that you were a whole lot closer to the top than to the bottom. In the process of compiling the shortlist, we ended up with an informal longlist of about 25 entries from which the final 13 were chosen: Loving the Law was one of the 25.
I appreciate that it's a mixed blessing to know you came so close, but I hope the positives outweigh the negatives and you take this as a big vote of confidence in your writing. Just reaching the final 25 is no small accomplishment. At that stage, the differences between entries can be wafer thin, and the judgements we have to make are very finely balanced. I hope you take encouragement from the achievement, and wish you the very best of luck with your future writing. If you're still eligible for next year's competition and have some new or improved material, I for one would be very keen to read it.
It's not official, but it is the first feedback I've had from the world of writing. Printed out on extra bright white paper, this is now stuck on the wall behind my writing desk. It's there for whenever I start losing hope.
But I'm stupid, so that hasn't happened yet.
Friday, November 18, 2005
Just to tease the hell out of all of you (and myself), I've cobbled together a new Danny Hawaii website.
Don't get your knickers in a knot about it though. It's pretty bare. I just want it to be a placeholder for when the novel does come out. The previous version of the Danny Hawaii website was a mixed up, confused mess of all my creative interests. Now I'm focussing in on the writing.
There's an email list, which happens to be the same as the one I've put in the contacts section. The idea is that if you don't want to be a regular visitor to my blog, but you do want to read the novel, sign up to the email list and I'll keep you informed.
Daniel Hatadi OUT
# 3:42 pm
"Free wind-up laptops for world's poor" from news.com.au
Let's save those poor heathens from their technology-free Hell. They must be so depressed, not being able to afford a laptop of their own. Soon their lives will be free of disease and health problems. Is there anything a windup laptop can't do?
I dunno. How about windup FOOD?
Thursday, November 17, 2005
Music has been on my mind lately.
I've had my first brush with fame with an artist I truly respect. And it got me thinking about my own music career. The one I decided to leave behind.
If you've read my previous blog, you may know that before I used Danny Hawaii as a character in my novel, I was doing music under the name. My idea was to combine blues and beats, in a future retro style.
I was getting somewhere, but I came to the realisation that I didn't think I was a good enough singer. And I wanted to be, because damn it if I was going to write music for someone else again.
So I left it all behind, replacing my music with writing. And the writing bug has hit me hard. I seem to get the same satisfaction out of it, without the downside. With writing, I don't have to carry around heavy amps and guitars, or worry about endless metres of cabling, sound levels, tuning, or the lack of dedication and ability of the other members in the band.
Because there is no band. It's just me.
In a fit of nostalgic goodness, I now present to you a link to four of the better tracks I did under the Danny Hawaii name.
Danny Hawaii Toons
Wednesday, November 16, 2005
I've put this here because I think it may be one of the most important issues in a crime novel. And I don't want to forget it.
From Ms Snark, literary agent:
I think the thing that's missing in most of the novels I reject is that the characters don't seem to grow or change enough. I read a lot of mystery and thriller submissions and it's like dead bodies are leaves on the ground: no impact. Even in cozies, there has to be some sense that this isn't quite normal and will mean something to the characters.
I know I'm already guilty of this mistake with some of my flatter characters. So this one goes (puts on harsh Aussie accent) ... straight to the trophy room.
Tuesday, November 15, 2005
Wednesday, November 09, 2005
My brain hurts.
My eyes have assaulted it with a pair of garden shears, and on top of that, they inserted a lobster directly into my cerebral cortex.
Translation: I spent a good few hours rushing through my ms to get together an overview. The point of this exercise, aside from turning my brains into soft noodles, was to give me the chance to step back and think about the purpose of each scene in terms of the whole story.
I didn't mean for the writing to look so small, or to have the word 'Danny' appear so often, but here it is in techicolour glory:
In other news: while writing the novel, whenever I thought of a catchphrase I snuck it away into a secret file, with the hope of using it ... someday.
* Peter Corris goes clubbing with Janet Evanovich.
* Danny Hawaii wants to be a PI. Only his lack of ability is stopping him.
* Toilet training can be fun. So can training to become a PI.
Try making up your own and send them to me. If I like them, I'll remember you, and I'll send you a copy of the novel when it comes out. I promise.
Danny Hawaii. Loving The Law. Read it. When it's finished.
Tuesday, November 08, 2005
It's all about me. The me, me, me talk just dang well never stops around these here parts.
Today's talk on Me is all about errors. Errors that creep into writing, so's you don't even notice them. Little errors, like 'them' instead of 'the', or 'bard' instead of 'bad'.
Then bigger errors like, 'pacing too fast' or 'this part sucks dead dog's b***z'.
Four days of intense shoulder hunching and red pen wielding have given me this masterpiece of errors, shown below for your viewing pleasure.
Note to self: Read it and weep.
# 10:41 am
Friday, November 04, 2005
Years ago, I said this to someone and it sounded so silly it stuck. It's been trapped in my skull ever since, and whenever I find myself getting too Deep & Meaningful, I use this sentence to take a step back.
Things mean things to me.
Which leads me right into yapping about these pictures. I took advantage of my day job to print out the whole damn novel, and then I got all emotional and took some snaps of it.
Of the manuscript, the MS.
As a computer professional, I'm used to dealing with words on the screen. I wrote the whole novel on computers. The images don't convey how weighty the thing feels when my hands are wrapped around it, but there's something very tangible and awe inspiring about a printed tome. At 283 pages, tome isn't the right word, but being my first novel, it feels that way to me.
I'm going to buy a special red marker, one that sings in my hand like a magical weapon, and then I'm going to take a couple of days to attack my manuscript.
That's when the work truly begins.
# 11:38 am
Wednesday, November 02, 2005
I took a break from working on the novel to get some perspective, so that my head is clear for the second draft. For the last six weeks, I've been working up to printing that thick wad of manuscript and going at it with a red marker. Now I'm raring to go.
So what do I do instead? I procrastinate. Just like any good writer should(n't). Just like I knew I would.
(cue James Brown dance moves)
Two books on writing are winging their way across the globe, courtesy of Amazon. I've ploughed through two other books already. On top of that, I'm reading Neil Gaiman's latest and I've enrolled in a one day course on publishing.
It's a full day on Saturday and I'm pretty sure my mind will be successfully blown away. Eight hours of intensive study in anything is a great way to burn brain calories.
Here's a link to the course: Demystifying Book Publishing
And now back to work (yeah, sure, Dan).
# 4:20 pm