'The best books, reviewed with insight and charm, but without compromise.'
- author Jackie French

Tuesday 21 September 2010

Guest Post: The Writing of Graffiti Moon

Graffiti Moon feels small when I hold it. I flicked through it the other day and I couldn’t believe it took me such a long time to write. But it did. Because my writing process is long and muddled and it’s only at the end that I know exactly what it is that I want to say.

The first draft was about 80,000 words and it took me about a year to write. Ed, Lucy, Jazz, Leo, Dylan and Daisy were in the story. But they were completely different to the characters that appear in the published book.

I love the characters in the final version. I didn’t know the characters in the first draft very well and what I knew (or thought I knew) I didn’t like. There wasn’t nearly enough hope or poetry inside them.

So I pretty much deleted the lot. I threw out everything except their names, the glassblowing, the art and the night. I decided to get to know them again, properly. I went searching for things that might happen in their world.

I drove around the northern suburbs at different times. I took my laptop and wrote about the landscape while it shifted and changed with the light. I wrote most of Lucy’s descriptions while I sat under the Westgate. Some nights my friends would drive me over and over it so I could take notes. Lucy’s world is romantic, an industrial city covered in lights. It shines. In the first draft it was grimy and that didn’t work.

Ed doesn’t see the same beauty that Lucy does, even at night. So for him I wrote near the docks, where I had a view of the crates and cranes.

I went to parks and met a nighttime poet who eventually became Leo.

I ate in cafés in different parts of the city, at different times of the night, to see who might come in.

I talked to people about art (gallery and street). I spent a day in a glass artist’s studio and she told me not only about her craft but also about her life.

I met a teenager who talked to me about her psychic abilities.

And then from those small moments I went on to do what I love doing. I spent all of my time imagining the tiny details about my characters. What poetry did Leo write after Emma dumped him? What poems did he write when he was on the dance floor with Jazz? What paintings did Ed spray across the city?

My favourite part of writing is imagining the dialogue. In the second draft, that was the easiest part. In the first draft it took forever. I know now that if the dialogue takes me too long then I don’t have the characters right.

After I’d spent all that time in the night, the characters were easy. The second draft only took about three months. And because Ed and Lucy, Leo and Jazz, Dylan and Daisy had so much poetry in them, I missed them when they’d gone.

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