Category Archives: Work in Progress

My Writing Day

Standard

Her name is Winter. She’s a Scottish Deerhound. Yes, she’s very tall. Saves bending over to give her pats – she’s already at just the right height.

One day a week. That’s all I have for my own writing. And when I say ‘day’ I don’t mean a whole day, I mean a school day, between about 9:30 and 3:00pm.

Also minus the school holidays. And minus time spent hanging out the washing, catching up on my day job, making cups of tea and procrastinating by playing Tetris. I’m now very good at Tetris.

My routine, on my writing day, is to take the dog for a walk after I’ve dropped the kids at school. Apart from the many therapeutic benefits of the forest, I use the time to decide exactly what it is that I plan to work on that day. I’ve learnt the hard way that if I don’t decide before I sit down at my desk, then I invariably fritter my time away hanging out the washing, catching up on my day job, making cups of tea and procrastinating by playing Tetris. Did I mention that I’m very good at Tetris?

You’d think it would be easy to decide, each day, what to work on next. Maybe it is, if you have the privilege of working on the same thing for multiple days in a row. But when it’s been a week, or more, since I last looked at the manuscript, I find it valuable to be very clear about the task at hand. It’s not at all simply a matter of writing about ‘what happened next’. If only!

Maybe, for example, I want to Read the rest of this entry

Advertisements

Done! For now at least…

Standard

With apologies to those who already know, via Facebook and Twitter – I sent the draft manuscript to my editor at Text Publishing late last week.

Very happy.

Subsequently spent a relaxing weekend in the garden, and celebrating Mother’s Day with my gorgeous kids.

No deadlines, no pressure – bliss.

Next steps? The editor edits the manuscript, sends it back covered in comments and I go back to working on it. And in the meantime I keep following up and trying to source all the images I need.

And yes, the champagne was delicious.

How to finish a manuscript

Standard

Young Woman Writing a Letter (detail), from a poster for Encre Marquet by Eugene Grasset, 1892. Image courtesy Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division.

Well, by not spending time writing blog posts, obviously.

The manuscript must go to the publisher (for editing) in about week, so the last little while has been just a teensy bit frantic.

I kind of finished working on the text a few weeks ago, and since then I have:

  • drawn up a Macarthur family tree (thank you PowerPoint),
  • included a list of NSW Governors from 1788-1855 (eg, in Elizabeth Macarthur’s lifetime),
  • written an epilogue in which I discuss Elizabeth Macarthur’s legacy and her importance to Australia’s historical view of itself (including very brief biographies for each of her children and grandchildren – a sort of ‘what happened next’, if you like), and
  • tidied up and made consistent all the footnotes (now endnotes) and the bibliography.

I’ve also been sourcing images. Naively, I learned upon signing with the publisher that all the images (including copyright permissions, if relevant) have to be sourced and, where necessary, paid for by me. Much daunted, I duly compiled a very long list of all the images I’d quite like to include and then discovered that some institutions are likely to charge me as much as $150 per image. My image list quickly became shorter! Others charge $45.  And still others, like the State Library of NSW, charge nothing for digitised images that are out of copyright. Guess where most of my images will be sourced from…

For those of you who enjoy meaningless statistics, the draft manuscript currently has:

  • 22 chapters
  • 257 pages
  • 121,791 words
  • 842 endnotes
  • 119 works/sources listed in the bibliography
  • and a partridge in a pear tree (not really)

And of course, now that I’ve stepped back from the text, I keep thinking of things to add to it. My haphazard To Do list reads roughly as follows:

  • acknowledgements
  • psychiatrist’s opinion of John Macarthur’s being bipolar (done)
  • rum rebellion – more depth
  • Elizabeth Farm renovation, add letter from EM to her son. ‘The important improvements your dear father mentions’, Elizabeth explained in a letter to Edward, ‘are little other than delusions.’ (done)
  • ‘Quarrels’ chapter – fix it.
  • Banks of Parramatta River – no mangroves! (done)
  • ending, add EM’s comments about collecting sea shells at Bude and her comments re memories of Bridgerule.

Then all I need do is step back and look at the manuscript as a whole and completely revise and … who am I kidding? As a long time promoter of the saying that finished is better than perfect, perhaps I should start practicing what I preach. And I don’t quite have the chutzpah to imagine that I’ll ever achieve ‘perfect’ anyway, so best get the jolly thing off the editor to see what she thinks of it all.

 

Elizabeth Macarthur died today

Standard

Not actually today, obviously.

Elizabeth Macarthur the woman died almost 167 years ago, on 9 February 1850. She was eighty-three years old.

But today I wrote the paragraph in which Elizabeth dies, the final paragraph of the book really, and I felt strangely sad.

It’s been my job to make her come to life on the page and I’ve been working to do so for more years than I care to admit. Yet there she was, having a stroke and quietly dying at Watson’s Bay in the company of Emmeline, her youngest daughter and Dr Anderson, a long-time family friend. It was sad and I hope I can make my readers feel that same soft pang.

The other part of my sadness, though, was less easy to articulate.

For months I’ve been looking forward to reaching this point: to be able to write “and then she died. The End.” Which is not what I actually wrote, of course, but you see my point. It is The End. The end of the research (almost), the end of the first draft, the end of laying down the facts of Elizabeth’s long and interesting life.  Did you know Read the rest of this entry

Camden Park House

Standard
camden-park-house-2016

Camden Park House Source: Adventures in Biography

Took my family to Sydney for the weekend, ostensibly for a quick sightseeing stopover but actually so that we could attend the annual open day at Camden Park House.

We were lucky with the rain, and managed to explore the house and extensive gardens before it poured.

* * * * *

During the first week of June 1805 the signal was made at Sydney Harbour’s South Head and Elizabeth’s prayers were answered. John Macarthur, having left NSW for England in 1801 under the cloud of a pending court-martial, triumphantly sailed up the harbour in a ship he part-owned, unsubtly named Argo. Its figurehead was, equally unsubtly, a golden fleece.

During his enforced English sojourn (this was the first, the second time was after the Rum Rebellion of 1808) John had gained an important friend in Sir Walter Farquhar, avoided sanction for duelling with his commanding officer, sold his military commission, convinced the government that the future of New South Wales rested with him, and wrangled the purchase of seven rare and prized Spanish rams.  He even managed to bring five of them home alive. There is luck here, certainly, but also a canny ability to spot an opportunity and to capitalise upon it.

John also brought home his Read the rest of this entry

In the media #1

Standard

bplusp_masthead3My first mention in the media has occurred already.  That was fast.

Books +Publishing  is, according its own website, Australia’s number-one source of news about the book industry, keeping subscribers up to date with the latest book industry news, events, features, interviews, opinion, personnel changes, job advertisements and classifieds. Books+Publishing is also the only source of pre-publication reviews of Australian books.

And today they’ve published a little article about me and my book!

Gosh, I wonder if people will stop me in the street now? Will I get mobbed at my regular lunchtime sushi place? Are the other kids going to tease my children?

No?  Nothing? Right.  Best get back to the day job then…

Just for the record, though, my last name is Scott Tucker.  Two words, no hyphen.  Like Mary Grant Bruce. 😉

Had a coffee with my publisher yesterday…

Standard

Text LogoWow. It feels unbelievably good to say/write that out loud.

After much deliberation and a lengthy discussion with my agent (ok, yes, it was over lunch but we both drank water – honest!) I decided to go with Text Publishing.

In the end I was lucky enough to receive seven generous offers for the manuscript. I can’t imagine that will ever happen again so I was careful to enjoy every minute! And speaking at length with the wise, intelligent and enthusiastic editors from each of those houses has been a genuine privilege.

It was very much a line-ball decision – and I’m sure any of the publishers I spoke with would have been great – but I chose Text because Michael Heyward and the people there really ‘get it’.  They asked smart questions and clearly want to take the manuscript in the same direction I want to go. Their deal includes a second version of the biography, rewritten for a Young Adult (YA) audience. Also and importantly, Text’s backlist is full of books I admire very much, that hit the sweet spot between intellectual depth and commercial readability. The fact that Text is home to authors like Helen Garner, Inga Clendinnen, Peter Temple, Kate Grenville, Clare Wright and Tim Flannery (to name a few) wasn’t a deciding factor but, once again, wow.

Jane Pearson

Jane Pearson

So yesterday I had a coffee with my editor at Text, the lovely Jane Pearson.

Jane introduced me, one at a time, to everyone in the office (they were all very friendly and kind) and then took me into a literary lollyshop – the Text Publishing storeroom. Heaven!  Suffice to say that, with Jane’s blessing and encouragement, I walked out of heaven hefting a Text carry bag loaded with gorgeous new books. I like it here already…

Then we walked down the street to very hipster cafe and spent an hour or so in a wonderfully intense conversation about next steps, the editing process, deadlines, our children, contracts, and – best of all – the party held by Text for writers and industry people during next month’s Melbourne Writers Festival. To which I am invited. Yes, I know.  Wow.

At this stage it looks like the book will be released in 2018.  So if this blog goes quiet over the next little while, with less regular posts, it’s because I’m working hard on my manuscript – the biggest adventure in biography so far.

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save