I attempt to write challenging novels for young teenagers and junior independent readers, often with a Tasmanian setting. I sometimes write about serious subjects such as loneliness and alienation but I also love the lighter side of life. Since my first novel, Sophie’s Island, way back in 1990 (when the world was younger and more innocent) I've published another seven books, as well as short stories, reviews, scripts and articles. Sadly, not everything I write finds a willing publisher but that, folks, is a writer's life.
I tend to work slowly, doing many, many drafts. (You have to be a little bit obsessed to be a writer). A book usually takes me at least a year to write, sometimes a lot longer. I'll do at least ten drafts, frequently up to thirty or more.
I know I have a potential story when an idea grabs me and I can't get it out of my mind. It is as irritating as a leech bite. I have to scratch and scratch it until I've, hopefully, uncovered a complete and believable fictional world.
Everyone has thousands of thoughts flitting through their respective heads every day. Writers, I suspect, are people who are good at recognising which of those rapidly darting ideas might be useful in a story context. (If you don't catch them immediately - e.g. write them down on file cards like I do - they are likely to disappear and be lost for ever.) So, while nearly everyone has stories and story ideas flitting constantly through their consciousnesses, writers are those people who are good at mining them. The particular gold flecks that I'm seeking are often about troubled children because if you don't have problems in your story (tension) you don't have a story, you have words. (Someone, I can't remember who, said there is a mile of difference between a story and mere words on paper which is just typing). Your cereal sitting gluggily in the bowl when you pour milk into it isn't all that interesting but if it goes 'snap, crackle, kerboom!' that ... that! ... will attract a reader's interest! And maybe it will wake your parents up at the breakfast table. The 'kerboom' is your writer's pay dirt and when you hit it, you can (and should!) feel awfully pleased with yourself.
I love writing, most of the time. (Sometimes it can be as painful as the failure of love, or having your brain drilled out through your left ear hole.)
When I write I am constantly asking questions, keeping myself interested in life even if sometimes the world I'm immersed in is an imaginary one.
Story telling will exist as long as humanity. In fact, if story telling ever dies, I think I can confidently predict that that will signal the end of it.
Long may stories be told.
© David Rish , 2008