Towards the end of November I had a meeting with one of my tutors about Sylvia. I’d typed up a couple of scenes and emailed them to him in advance so he had some idea of what I was trying to do. To be honest, though, the only reason I had the meeting was because my tutor had observed (out loud) that I hadn’t had one and given me this look. It wasn’t like I’d thought about it and decided not to have a meeting; I just hadn’t thought about it. Besides, what would we talk about? But I caved to the pressure of that look and we arranged a meeting and since I was working on this novel I figured we could talk about that.
The meeting went well. We talked about how I’d been thinking of cutting the scenes from Dylan’s point of view and he confessed that the one that he read was the weakest of the scenes I’d sent him, which did contribute to my decision. He recommended books to me and even suggested a structure for Sylvia. He proposed that I focus the novel on her pregnancy and research the stages of pregnancy to find a structure. (That’s not what I’m going to do but his advice did make me think about research, which I hadn’t thought about at that stage.) Most importantly to me at the time, he said he liked it. This was more than I could say so that made me feel better.
Following this success I decided it was time to workshop some of the novel. This meant typing up at least ten pages (which was part of the reason why I wanted to do it – to force myself to type more of it up. I didn’t want to lose the Nanowrimo momentum.) The workshop went well. My classmates spotted certain aspects that weren’t working and also agreed that I should cut the scenes from Dylan’s point of view.
Following these successes, especially that of the first meeting, I decided to have another meeting with my other tutor. She’d led the workshop so was already familiar with what I was working on. She seemed reluctant to suggest anything specific, which I understand because it is my novel, after all, but then, why have meetings at all? (I still don’t understand these meetings. Maybe I’ll get better at them next term, I don’t know, we’ll have to wait and see.) However, she did talk to me about my usual method when writing (which took me by surprise because part of the reason I’d never really thought about my method before and part of the reason I was doing the course was to find one, I guess) and, put on the spot, I admitted that I normally plan a lot before I write the first draft and this time I’d just dived in. She suggested I go back to that method. She also mentioned that when she’s stuck it helps her to make it visual by writing the scenes on slips of paper and spreading them out on the floor so she can see them all. I tried this but it didn’t work for me, or hasn’t yet.
After all that, my overruling feeling about Sylvia was confusion. (Still is, now.) But I had to ignore that because I had to submit 5,000 words of creative writing in a few weeks and seeing as I hadn’t been working on anything else, I had to use extracts of Sylvia. And they had to be good.
Next week, find out how I managed to turn this Nanowrimo mongrel of a ‘novel’ into 5,000 words of creative writing assignment.