9th November 2017
Is ball-deep the term? It’s not one that I really ever choose to deploy so I might be misappropriating it here. Let’s just let me apologise and I’ll do my best to explain.
I’m ball deep into the second draft of The Brine in Me, and second drafts are funny company. Not that I’m keeping much company at the moment. There’s deadlines to meet, and that encroaching realisation that something inherently private in creation is going to be handed over to someone. An editor, which although still technically makes them a someone, they are so in an entirely different understanding of the word, enough to make you make sure that your novel makes sense on the page and not just in your head. That’s what a second draft is like, if like me you write the first draft wholesale without too much prior restraint. So far it would seem that it has made sense; if my explaining of that has also made sense, and ball-deep was the term, then well done me.
Let’s talk about melody.
First drafts (or writing a novel (that sounds better for me… oh, hang on… I just realised that I’m stuck in my own increasing brackets. Or stuck-up my own brackets, if again that is correct. I’m not sure how to figure my way out of this one, but I’ll try something…
IS THAT A FLYING SAUCER OUTSIDE YOUR WINDOW!?
It wasn’t? Never mind. Let’s talk about melody. I like melody, it’s a little like the busier moments of a first draft, when you’ve done a little pacing around with your coffee and you’re ready to get jammin on the keys. There’s flow to it, sometimes like a fresh spring across the keyboard, sometimes more, as if the percussion has joined in and everything rests on you not resting at the keys. If the typing really starts to get out of hand, and I mean fevered, I can shut down whatever music I’m listening to online in my room until the fever recedes and I can see coffee stains on the floor. The second draft is not like this however, so how best to describe?
I used to work at a concert hall. Quite often an articulated lorry would twist its way into the courtyard and shake its contents out of its forty five foot trailer. That’s not what a second draft is like, but we’re getting closer.
What would happen on the evening’s performance would be a symphony, and I mean literally. But I got to be around when all one hundred of the ensemble would be tuning up their various instruments, all of them, pretty much together in the same space. It was cacophonous, like a whole zoo, but stabbing with odd moments of clarity as one of the brass sections lets rip into three notes before going silent again. Timpani mascots would stand silent next to their drums as if they couldn’t care for any of it, then hammer into an impromptu crescendo as the knife sounds of a strings section in-tuning threatens you from every place it can get into your ears.
That all makes it sounds more troubling than it is, or even was at the time, but what I was going for was that the melody of the second draft is more like an odd rhythm made up of many different parts, all going off whenever they like and getting into key.
The brass section is my impatience; it knows the narrative arc and just wants to get-on-down. The strings are my editor, of course, and the timpani my coffee. It is a diverse mix of writing rhythms all getting into gear in the same space.
By chance that might have cleared the matter up, it certainly sometimes helps me to go through these things. Actually I’ve been pulling a sneaky one and returning to the draft while doing this. Over on that side of things, my protagonist-in-chief has returned from his experiences with vessels sailed and sunk on/in The North Sea. I used to live close to the Suffolk coast of that sea and can confirm for you that it’s a mucky colour out there.
But when you’d been building an opera set well into the early hours of a summers morning at the nearby concert hall, then gone with your best friend and fellow concert hall lackey to watch the sun rise all over the coast… then there’s no muckiness at all.
Sing me a song like the wants of the river; tell me a tale of the wolves…
JW Bowe xx))
P.S! Anna urges me to see that what remains of the day is running out at this time of year, and we’ve got to go and give some pigs the apples I’ve collected, before they go manky and she deems them wasteful. She hates to waste, hence we are married.
If you enjoyed this blog, and you’re impatient for something else to read, feel free to bunch up close to a free sample chapter from JW Bowe’s debut novel, The Meifod Claw, which is available now at Amazon, iTunes and on various other international eReaders.
You can also double up your sampling by following this link to the forthcoming fictional autobiography of The Meifod Claw’s wheelchair-in-chief, Derek Gainsborough. His life and apologies will be released next year under the sail of The Brine in Me.
JW Bowe can also be unearthed on YouTube and in various other ways through the Serious Biscuits homepage. Scroll down for further links, action and disclaimers.
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