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Wednesday, 3 September 2014

A pleasant lunch

Just back from 'Lunch with the Stars', an annual get-together arranged by the northern branch of the Children's Book Council of Australia.

I shared a table with students from Manly Vale Public School, who produced the most marvellous cake (highly unsuitable for men with white beards to eat!), based on two of my books.

Thanks, Mrs Poole and kids.

I met a large number of delightful young people there, and to those to whom I recommended looking for Julius Caesar, you are the ones I judged most likely to "get it". That is in the next entry, so scroll down a bit.

One of the themes I keep plugging here is the foolishness of prattling by older people about falling standards. There were none of those visible here, though admittedly, these were picked kids.  One question that I was asked and failed to adequately answer in the hubbub was a perennial: advice to young writers.

1. Write about stuff that you find interesting.

2. The 11 Rs: Read, Reflect, Research, (Ar)range, (W)Rite, Revise, Revise again, Read (aloud), Revise (once more) and Revise again, then Repeat. If you get more or less than 11, Remedial 'Rithmetic.

Two pages from my own notbook
3. Always carry a notebook. Leave the front four pages blank to add an index later, number each page, and leave a trail of breadcrumbs though the pages, so you can trace backwards or forwards.

Make your notes detailed enough so you can retrieve the thought years later. Make sure each page has a date and some sort of indication of what it's about.

Include full details of the source : title, author, page number and if it is a library book, which library it came from and the Dewey number.

This sort of detail takes time, but when you need it, it saves a huge amount of time.

4.  Write everything down.

5.  If, like me, you use spreadsheets to store ideas and quotes and notes, always use the same format, in case you want to merge data files later.

6.  Use the WC principle. That stands for Who Cares? If nobody cares, drop that bit, the fact, that sentence, that paragraph, that article, down the WC.

7.  Never be afraid to toss out the entire draft and start again, but always archive a few earlier drafts, just in case you lose everything.  I also keep key content files and a few drafts in a number of places:

* on the hard disc of my desktop (Windows/Intel) machine;

* on a USB thumbstick;

* on a stand-alone external hard-drive;

* in Dropbox, which immediately adds it to the three device below, but I also store it in the main files areas, independently of Dropbox;

* on my travelling Netbook, with a different build of Word and a different version of Windows;

* on my Macbook, on the principle that any Wintel-based nasty that gets the Netbook and the dektop will probably not clobber this; and finally

* on my Android tablet.

Yes, a waste of time — until the day you need it!

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