Graeme

Writer's Blog

A place where I write about the writing life and writing projects in progress
 

November 29, 2011

  • Anatomy of a Legal Pad
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    As longtime viewers of the program know, I tend to do a lot of writing in longhand. In order to facilitate this, I tend to carry with me a legal pad of some sort (or I write in one of the many notebooks I also keep—usually just to, you know, take notes, or I write on random scraps of paper I find).

    I recently finished my latest legal pad. By the time I was finished with it it was battered beyond all recognition and had lost the cover. (There’s even a bloodstain on the first page—unrelated, I hasten to add to the writing process, and it’s my own blood!) I started it last December (I know this because the first page has my handwritten draft to my column about Being Erica) and I finished it earlier this month. Over an 11 month period I used it to write:

    • 5 Columns
    • work for a film treatment I wrote for a producer
    • 9 or so entries (and other material) for Who Is The Doctor
    • 8 reviews for Enlightenment
    • notes for a couple of church programs I’m involved with
    • A writing sample for a position I was applying for (for which I was ultimately hired)
    • A pitch for a short story in an anthology edited by someone I know (I didn’t get the gig)
    • Writing for my new job

    This is a rare example of a notebook where everything I wrote in it made it “out” in some way or another—all the work actually wound up being used or at least typed up. I have several pads which I hold onto because it contains material which hasn’t been typed up or it contains an idea I started to develop but never quite got around to finishing.

    I think the reason I didn’t end up using this pad up sooner was that I’ve been borrowing my parents’ laptop for the past several months and I’ve used it quite a bit. I used to never write on a laptop but I’m becoming much more comfortable with it. I’ll probably end up filling more legal pads when I have to give it back!

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    November 24, 2011

  • Chicago, My Kind of Town…
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    Just a note for those of you who will be attending the Chicago TARDIS convention this weekend (held in…Lombard, Illinois. No, I wasn’t expecting that one, either) I will be there as an author guest. Here I am on the guest list and everything!

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    Let me tell you, that’s still not getting old for me!

    Anyway, I’ll be on a variety of panels (including one on the Peter Davison era of Doctor Who that I’m looking forward to) and I’ll be interviewing guest Andrew Hayden-Smith (Jake from a number of Series Two episodes) on stage. Of special note is the panel on Time Unincorporated (Sunday 12pm-1pm; an autograph session follows) and a panel previewing Who Is The Doctor (Saturday 2-3pm). Hope to see some of you there!

    Posted by graeme | (1) Comments | Permalink

    November 23, 2011

  • It is finished(-ish)
  • I know I’ve been really silent here the past few weeks… months… but there’s a really good reason for that:

    I’ve been finishing my co-authored book, Who Is The Doctor. And we just sent in the final section for it. You can see the listing of Series Six stories that we were working off of on my office bulletin board. Every story is crossed off:

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    (Yes, that is an adorable picture of my wife above our list).

    Who Is The Doctor has been a bit of a wild ride that’s taken well over a year. I wrote my first entry (judging by the time stamp on the e-mail of the copy I sent to my co-author Robert Smith?) November 2, 2010. We sent the first five seasons (plus a lot of other stuff) to our editor at ECW Press, Jen Hale, in July. Since July the book has been edited and rewritten (more on that in a second), which took until the beginning of November. We spent November writing the entries for the last season (plus a lot of other stuff). Along the way we’ve also been copy-editing the sections that have gone through edits and re-writes.

    This is the first time either Robert or myself have worked with a professional editor at a publisher (we acted as editors on our books with Mad Norwegian Press, with publisher Lars Pearson offering helpful advice and suggestions every so often). I won’t lie about the experience. It was hard, especially at first as everyone is trying to get a sense of what it is we’re doing. An editor’s job is to look at the work and ask difficult questions about what it is you’re trying to do. Sometimes you want to scream, “Because that’s the book we’re trying to write!” and then figure out some polite way of saying that. Other times, you have to take a step back and figure out why something isn’t working and make it work. You have to know when to hold your corner and when to bend agreeably. There were wars won and wars lost. There always are. Some of the things that were lost are frustrating to me, but at the same time, the feedback we’ve received from people reading through the manuscript is that it’s now tighter, better and more accessible. Which means our editor did a good job and we hopefully did a good job too. And Jen has a great sense of humour and a great enthusiasm for the material, which helped a lot.

    But the editing and rewriting process was all-encompassing. I liken it to having a large hole drilled into the back of my head and having the contents inside slowly leak onto the ground in back of me. I have had no “foreground” since August: no time for hobbies or outside interests, no time to do other writing than the book and my day jobs (hence the silence here), and, perhaps surprisingly, no interest in doing anything else to do with Doctor Who. (I have half a dozen things to do on the Doctor Who Information Network’s website and blog that have just sat in the queue). It’s all moving forward like a shark.

    I’ve been really lucky to be doing this with such a decent human being as Robert Smith?. We have a good working relationship and we’re usually quite good about finding compromises when we disagree on something. We both have pretty big egos, but I’m always amazed at how good we both are at giving each other our space (Robert is probably more skillful at that than me at it). We’ve only actually been visibly testy with the other twice or so in the whole 13 or so months we’ve been working on this, and it’s been toward the end when we’re both quite tired. Which I think speaks to the level of trust we both have with each other, even though we’re very different people with different outlooks on Doctor Who, politics, language and other things. (And we have complementary skill sets, which helps). I guess what I’m wibbling about is this: It’s good to do a book with as good a person as Robert.

    We have another month or so of work ahead on Who Is The Doctor: we’ll have edits and rewriting to the section on Series Six and the final bits and we’ll have copy edits of the remainder of the book. And then we’ll be working with ECW’s crack marketing team on promoting the book.

    At the end of all this, sometime in April, there will be a published book that I genuinely hope will add something positive to the world of Doctor Who and, I would like to think, the discussion on contemporary television generally.

    In the meantime, time to get back to the grind. More blog entries (and, in December, columns) to come, though, I promise!

    Oh, you can also now order our book on amazon.ca and amazon.com !

    Posted by graeme | (1) Comments | Permalink
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