Over the year or so I’ve blogged one topic I harped on about is the need to revise your work. I was thinking about this yesterday at a poetry meeting. I should explain that I am a member of two different poetry groups, this week they fell on consecutive nights. Busy time.
Interestingly I noticed last night as I read a poem to the group, that as well as revising on the page as I rewrite version after version of the poem, I also appear to rewrite as I read to the group. I say this is interesting because it doesn’t happen when I am reading a loud by myself. It is important to hear what your work sounds like outside of your head, I often read a loud as I work on a poem. Poetry after all is an oral tradition as much as a written.
I’d noticed this before, but not really paid attention to it. Last night though I realise that the changes I made as I read, that I suppose sprang from my unconscious, made for a better poem. Or if not better at least easier to get my mouth around.
This underlines for me the importance of sharing your work, of interacting with others. I have learnt so much from being a member of a group. Discussing other people’s work has given me insight into my own creative process. Do you belong to a group?
Last weekend I was on a panel at the Cardiff Comic Expo, volunteered by my publisher, who had arranged the gig then told me. I actually didn’t mind that, any chance to pontificate...
I was asked about how I work, whether I gave the artist a detailed script or not. It was a good question, I try to give the artist a thumbnail impression of what the main characters look like, as well as some idea of the location. For the first novel in the sequence I gave him a cd of photos I’d taken around Barcelona, where the story is set. I thought this would save him hours of Google Earth time with him looking for the various locations I mentioned.
Creating the look of the world though is mainly down to David. He’s doing the artwork. We had discussed the overall look of the book and how the world had developed as I wrote the four novels. He read each as I finished them so he had the story arc clearly laid out.
The exciting part has been watching the pages come together. That, and the fun of talking about specific aspects such as the trams. The world of CO2 is powered by genetically altered animals, so how does a tram work? The simple idea would be have it pulled by a horse, but that would be too easy. So the trams are powered by horses that are contained in the centre of the tram, a far more baroque and disturbing solution.
There are surprises when collaborating; David’s four arm gorillas were an unexpected delight. We have to show our work to others, it helps us to grow as artists. As I also said when on the panel: “It’s all very well sitting in your room producing your masterpiece but h ow do other people get to know about it if you don’t share it with them?”