Tuesday, May 19, 2015

If only I could eat their brains...

Last weekend I attended a number of excellent sessions at the Auckland Writers Festival. They pulled out all the stops and had an incredible selection of international speakers this year including Haruki Murakami (who just does not attend festivals), Carol Ann Duffy, Tim Winton, Dav Pilkey, Helen MacDonald, David Walliams, David Mitchell, Alan Cumming, Anthony Horowitz, Morris Gleitzman, Ben Okri, Atul Gawande and many, many more. Local writers included Philippa Werry, Donovan Bixley, Paula Green, Rachael Craw, Nalini Singh and Helena Wisniewski-Brow. It is hard to imagine how they might top this collection of awesome in future. But I wouldn't put it past them to somehow manage it (Sonya Hartnett, Maggie Steifvater, hint hint).

The crowds (and boy were there some crowds) were full of familiar faces, both of good friends and local writing (and other) luminaries. I caught up with pals from Queenstown, Dunedin, Taupo and Wellington as well as a bunch of Aucklanders. We raved about who we had just seen or were about to see, shared writerly gossip and generally had an all round good time. I went to the opening night gala, attended a scriptwriting workshop and saw and heard Alan Cumming (who urged everyone to be authentic), David Walliams (apparently when you meet the queen you aren't allowed to ask any questions which is very tricky, you just have to wait for her to ask you some), Anthony Horowitz (sought the original author's voice when writing Sherlock and Bond stories), and Helen MacDonald (who found solace in the relationship she forged with the brutal and noble goshawk Mabel) in action. I queued up to have a book signed by Anthony Horowitz (such a lovely guy) but did not even attempt to join the 3 hour line for David Walliams. You have to pick your battles folks. And all the time, this buzz of excitement, an energetic frisson of anticipation.

I enjoyed everything I went to. I laughed at times, had a lump in my throat at others, and felt that twinge of jealousy when they read from their work. Once or twice I felt grumpy with things the speaker said. But in the end I couldn't avoid feeling mostly a professional curiosity, rather than a fan's love. I nodded in recognition at their writerly advice. Sympathised with their struggles. I scrutinised their presentations for tricks and tips and ideas that I might be able to use myself in future. Sometimes I just wanted to be them, other times I thought, I could do that too. In the end none of them really spoke about how they write, which is fine because everyone's process is personal and non-transferable (except in a zombie-ate-my-brain kind of situation and even then there are no guarantees). They were all just interesting people with stories to tell, which I guess is kind of the point.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Are we in danger of becoming disconnected from our own literature...

It was too sad/frustrating/maddening/insert your emotional response here, to find out that NZ Book Month will not be going ahead this year. It seems so few outside of our own community want to invest in New Zealand literature, or celebrate it. Maybe books are bad for people, and reading is a waste of time and should be discouraged. Maybe having a literature that shines a light on our own experience, that celebrates our own unique culture, and values, and concerns is not worthwhile. Maybe we just can't write 'good' books here in New Zealand like people from other countries do. Or are books just a frivolous indulgence, a luxury that can be set aside when times are tight? 

No, of course not! Reading can be the best escapist fun /entertainment /enlightenment /thought provoking experience, and you get heaps of added bonuses. Literacy is the cornerstone of education. Reading improves our cognitive abilities, and enhances our emotional and academic intelligence. And reading can just make you feel good. We make some incredible books here in New Zealand but we constantly face an uphill battle to tell the public about them.

Are we in danger of being disconnected from our own literature? Because the longer you expect the cord between the public and local creatives to stretch, the less elastic, and more brittle it will become.

Perhaps it is assumed the book industry, and more particularly the creative folk providing content, will survive and persist regardless. That we do not need to be promoted or feted. Money can be cribbed from this, the logic might go, because books will still be made and be available to readers (and if our local literature diminishes, hey there are just so many books coming in from overseas). And lets face it, so many writers continue to write despite poor returns.

When NZ Music month began it was about giving NZ music more radio airtime. Radio plays are not sales to the public (there is income to the artist but not to the radio station) but NZ music received way more exposure.  Radio stations didn't want to play more local songs but the government of the day (go Helen Clark!!) made them and in the end it has been a win/win. The current government does not seem keen to encourage promotion/exposure of NZ books in the same way but I think we need this kind of help. The industry and authors themselves do what they can but there is limited nationwide exposure. Perhaps the media, especially tv, are our 'radio' equivalents. We struggle to get the same kind of coverage that NZ Music month and the NZ music awards get (the most recent music awards had daily tv coverage of finalists leading up to the awards night). If media were encouraged to provide a quota of coverage daily during NZ book month the connection between the industry and the public might be strengthened. First you have to showcase the books. And encourage people to take pride in reading and owning NZ literature. Sales will come down the track. Long game people, long game.

So why do we need a NZ Book Month? Because no one else does NZ literature! Because New Zealand should be proud of the literature that is created by us and for us. Because too few opportunities currently exist for the wider public to learn about and be exposed to our books. Because reading is good for everyone and here is a chance to encourage everyone to pick up more books than they usually would. How amazing it would be to have some cheerleaders for NZ literature, just because they are New Zealand books. How cool would it be if these cheerleaders came from outside the book industry, because like, you know, the rest of us are already converted to the benefits. How about we grow some new fans!

The fantastic Rachael King (author of great NZ books you should read - The Sound of ButterfliesMagpie Hall, and Red Rocks) has started a brilliant twitter campaign this month to promote New Zealand books with the hashtag #NZBookMonthMay. We are doing what we can. But really, we need your help. Let's not go another year without a NZ Book Month.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

A Week Away in Wanaka...

Well, that was way cool. Wanaka in autumn is stunning and the name of their biennial arts festival - The Festival of Colour - is apt. The trees had traded in their summer green for a broader palette of reds, yellows and oranges. The descending sun left haunted shadows stepping down the hills toward the town. It was beautiful. The weather was fine and mild.And I had fantastic company - history professor/author Kate Hunter and author/illustrator Bob Kerr - with whom I shared a house, great conversations, dinner making duties and events. Meeting other writers has to be one of the key highlights of tours like this.

After three days of school visiting, we met up with Wellington playwright Dave Armstrong and local writer/poet Liz Breslin for a Speed Date the Author event (always one of my favourite gigs) on the thursday, talking to school students from Queenstown, Alexandra and Arrowtown, and then True Stories Told Live at the temporary 'Crystal Palace' venue in Wanaka to a mostly adult audience on the Friday. The True Stories event involved all five of us speaking for ten minutes each, unscripted on the topic 'Don't Talk About the War'. Of course we all did. We hadn't shared our talks with each other beforehand but they seemed nicely complementary. I spoke about my Mum's childhood during World War 2. After all I'd told my Dad's story in my book A Winter's Day in 1939. I wasn't going to miss the opportunity to share my Mum's story, although it was hard to avoid the talk being taken over by my great grandmother. I believe she was a little like that in real life. The crowd was sizeable - more than 210 folk. And they'd paid to hear us talk. I think they liked it. After some nerves, especially about the unscripted aspect, I felt pretty comfortable talking. And now? I would jump at the chance to do this type of event again.

 It was a good note to end our Words on Wheels Tour on. What a week!

Monday, April 20, 2015

We interrupt this broadcast....

I would like to interrupt this interlude with a brief return to normal service (well, as normal as you can ever hope to receive from me). I have been having a bit of an interesting time of it lately and thought I would share some of it with you folks.

The residency, I am very happy to say so far, has been providing me with the perfect environment for 'getting on with the story'. It is a reminder of what is needed to do this job - a quiet place, surrounded by beautiful things both natural and made, with no distractions. While my home meets some of those criteria, it is woefully short on some of the others. I am thinking of enforcing office hours when the residency is over. At least between the hours of 1pm and 5pm intruders will be required to talk to the hand (the one not tapping on the computer keyboard that is).

I have been signed up to take part in a very exciting project with MTG Hawke's Bay and last Tuesday I popped down to Napier for the day to check out some of the pieces in the Museum's collection in storage with the Museum's curator. Some of the things were rather cool and incredibly fascinating and have prodded my brain into all sorts of interesting cogitations which I will be writing about soon. And Napier is a beautiful place. If you haven't been there, you should go!

This week I am in Wanaka for the NZ Book Council's Words on Wheels Tour with some terrific people - writer/illustrator Bob Kerr and writer/academic Kate Hunter. Yesterday I visited Wanaka Primary School with Bob. I gave all the children a very tricky, brain-stretchery task to do and was most impressed with their response. Nice work folks!!

This morning I trotted up the road to Mt Aspiring College and chatted with the year 8's and year 10s and found myself in the company of another awesome switched-on group of students. Tomorrow I'll be visiting Hawea Flat School, again riding shotgun with Bob Kerr and then Thursday we are taking part in a speed date the author event. The week culminates in a Festival of Colour True Stories Told Live Event. It's an unscripted event so my script has been told it will have to stay home.

There are all sorts of cool events on every day this week for the Festival of Colour here in Wanaka - plays, shows, puppetry, cabaret, music, and much, much more. I'm feeling pretty honoured to be taking part. It is fantastic to see a variety of these incredible cultural feasts popping up all over the country. Nice work New Zealand!!

Oh! And last, but by no means least, I am super thrilled to say my book with awesome illustrator Dominique Ford The Song of Kauri has become a finalist for the Librarian's Choice Award in the 2015 LIANZA Children's Book Awards.

Thursday, April 9, 2015


something to read, wot I have written (unedited) ...

Crocodile Dreaming - Part One

The teacher took Joseph Miller to the zoo. In fact she took the whole class, including Joe, who was the second smallest student. It would have been better to be the smallest, but that position was filled by Martha Eggleton, who was not only short, but also blond and dimpled. Everyone felt protective towards Martha. Joe had red hair, and more freckles than ‘you could shake a stick at’ as Granny Miller liked to say. Joe didn’t get how a shaking stick was a way to measure anything but Granny used it quite a lot. He also had teeth that refused to sit neatly in a straight row, and wore glasses because otherwise the words on the board looked like wet weetbix. His classmates found all these things impossible to ignore. Maybe if Joe played sports, things would be different. But he didn’t, and they weren’t. He wasn’t really the right shape for sports.

Joe liked the idea of going to the zoo. Animals seemed much less complicated than people. His Mum and Dad took him once but they were busy people and hadn’t managed to fit in another visit yet. He tried to hide his excitement in the week leading up to the visit. The other boys in his class found other people’s excitement annoying. At least that’s how they found Joe’s excitement.

It was cloudy the day of the trip. Ms Terry said this was perfect zoo visiting weather. Sunshine made animals sleepy and want to hide away in their dens in the shade. Joe stayed on the bus till all the other students were off as he often tripped over other peoples legs. But when he finally emerged he sniffed the earthy combination of animal fragrances and smiled.
“Hurry up Joseph,” Ms Terry called. “Stop dawdling.”
The animals didn’t disappoint.
“Miss, aren’t flamingos meant to be pink?” Harry Tanner asked as he hung over the railing at their enclosure.
“They’re grey because of the food they eat,” Joe said. “When they’ve eaten enough shrimps and stuff they’ll change colour and be pink.”
“Quite so, Joseph,” Ms Terry said tartly.
“Yes Joseph, quite so,” Harry parroted.

It was a small mistake, laughing at Harry when the llama spit at him. Everyone laughed at Joe when Harry spat at him at school, and frankly Joe didn’t see the difference. But apparently there was one because Harry let him have it while no one was looking during morning tea break beside the band rotunda. Harry’s friends egged him on.
Joe tried not to cry, but his nose hurt.
“What’s all this?” asked Ms Terry when she finally noticed.
“They’re crocodile tears Miss. They’re not real. I didn’t do anything,” Harry said in his own defence, out of habit, even though Joe had said nothing.
Joe didn’t bother mentioning that crocodiles did actually cry real tears. And that it had nothing to do with pretending they felt sad when they didn’t.

The crack in the left hand lens of his glasses made the animals look mysterious; especially the crocodile, already a little sinister, eyeing Joe from under half closed lids, through the vapour of the climate-controlled Reptile House. Half submerged in murky water, the animal floated perfectly still. Its knobbly, patterned hide made Joe think of dragons, and the knights who fought them. Magnificent teeth, curving and pointed and long, sat outside the crocodile’s lips in a predatory grin. Who could really tell what simmered below the calm and silent surface? Only a low railing separated the pond and its grassy surrounds from the visitors.
“This is boring,” Harry declared. “Crocodiles never do anything. And they’re ugly.” He smiled at Martha who flashed a dimple back. “Let’s go see the lions.” Everyone was slowly filing out, students pushing and shoving in their impatience. It might have been an accident. Who could tell in the end? But Harry’s elbow caught Joe in the back as he leaned over the fence. Joe found himself falling forward, watched closely by those crocodile eyes.  He landed on the edge of the pond, his hands in the water. What was that beneath his hand? He grasped at it.
Laughter erupted behind him. Joe wasn’t quite sure how being in danger was funny.
As quickly as he’d fallen in, the crocodile keeper yanked him out, pulling him up by the back of his shirt. The crocodile had not moved. Even though that’s what they usually did when food fell down right in front of them. How odd.
“You should never climb into an enclosure,” the keeper warned. “Crocodiles are killers.”
There seemed little point in Joe saying he’d been pushed.
“Yes,” he said instead. And, “Thank you.” But already the keeper was moving off to attend to his next task. The room had emptied. Joe opened his palm out and looked down at the crocodile tooth, large and hard and yellowed. He popped it in his pocket and glanced at the crocodile.
“Thanks for not eating me,” he said.
The crocodile blinked, a slow single tear sliding down its cheek. Joe said, “Bye,” and hurried off to find Ms Terry and the others.

Sunday, March 29, 2015


Well what a week it has been. We've had such super exciting cricket with the tail end of the 2015 Cricket World Cup. I've been so impressed by the Black Caps, both for their cricketing and their sportsmanship, and was thrilled they won their way into the final against Australia. They made it easy for us to love them and want them to do well. Win or lose, they are a remarkable bunch of guys.

The 2015 LIANZA Children's Book Award finalists were announced on the 23rd, and it was rather fab to have my book with illustrator Dominique Ford, The Song of Kauri, long-listed in two categories: for the Russell Clark Award for Illustration (yay Dominique - those illustrations are breathtaking), and for the Esther Glen Award for Junior Fiction (the only picture book included - crikey). We didn't make the shortlists -  there are just so many great books coming out of New Zealand - congratulations to all those who did and good luck for the big announcement of the winners in June.

Russell Clark Illustration Award Finalists
  • Marmaduke Duck on the Wide Blue Seas - illus. Sarah Davis – Scholastic
  • Jim’s Letters - illus. Jenny Cooper – Penguin Random House
  • Have you seen a monster?, - Raymond McGrath – Penguin Random House
  • So Many Wonderfuls, - Tina Matthews – Walker Books
  • Mrs Mo's Monster, - Paul Beavis – Gecko Press
Bye,Bye, Bye - illus. Stephanie Junovich
Go Home Flash - Ruth Paul
Moonman - Ned Barraud
The Song of Kauri - Illus. Dominique Ford
I Am Not A Worm - Scott Tulloch

LIANZA Young Adult Finalists
  •  I am Rebecca, by Fleur Beale – Penguin Random House
  • The Red Suitcase, by Jill Harris – Makaro Press
  • Singing Home the Whale, by Mandy Hager – Penguin Random House
  • Recon Team Angel: Vengeance, by Brian Falkner – Walker Books
  • Night Vision, by Ella West – Allen and Unwin
Kiwis At War - Susan Brocker
Spark - Rachael Craw
The Bow - Catherine Mayo
Awakening - Natalie King
Unworthy - Joanne Armstrong
Magic and Makutu - David Hair

Elsie Locke Nonfiction Finalists
  • The Book of Hat, by Harriet Rowland – Makaro Press
  • A New Zealand Nature Journal, by Sandra Morris – Walker Books
  • Maori Art for Kids, by Julie Noanoa and Norm Heke - Potton and Burton Publishing
  • Mōtītī Blue and the Oil Spill: A Story from the Rena Disaster, by Debbie McCauley – Mauao Publishing
  • New Zealand Sports Hall of Fame: 25 Kiwi Champions, by Maria Gill and Marco Ivancic – New Holland
Under the Ocean - Gillian Candler, illus. Ned Barraud
Offloading With Sonny Bill - David Riley
Ghoulish Getups - Fifi Colston
Loves Me Not: How To Keep Relationships Safe - Lesly Elliott
Taratoa and the Code of Conduct - Debbie McCauley
One Girl, One Dream - Laura Dekker

Esther Glen Junior Fiction Finalists
  • Monkey Boy, by Donovan Bixley – Scholastic
  • The Volume of Possible Endings (A Tale of Fontania), by Barbara Else – Gecko
  • Conrad Cooper's Last Stand, by Leonie Agnew - Penguin
  • Trouble in Time, by Adele Broadbent – Scholastic
  • Letterbox Cat, by Paula Green – Scholastic
The Song of Kauri - Melinda Szymanik, illus. Dominique Ford
The Deadly Sky - David Hill
Island of Lost Horses - Stacey Gregg
Dappled Annie and the Tigrish - Mary McCallum
The Night of the Perigee Moon - Juliet Jacka

Te Kura Pounamu (Te Reo Māori) Finalists
  • Nga Kī, by Sacha Cotter, Josh Morgan and Kawata Teepa - Huia
  • Hui E!, by various authors - Huia
  • Tūtewehi, by Fred Te Maro - HuiaKimihia by Te Mihinga Komene and Scott Pearson - Huia
  • An early Te Reo Reading Book Series, by Carolyn Collis - Summer Rose Books
And last but by no means least,yesterday was the Storylines International Children's Book Day and Storylines Awards Presentation. I was really pleased to receive a 2015 Storylines Notable Book Award for The Song of Kauri. And so happy to finally meet the book's illustrator Dominique. What's more, the illustrator for my next picture book was there too, and we had a bit of a chat about some things he is planning. I cannot wait to see what he comes up with. I got to chat with other writery and illustratory friends - always an excellent thing. And missed chatting with others and am now kicking myself over that. Congratulations to all the other Notable Book Awardees. Congratulations to Suzanne Main on the launch of her 2014 Tom Fitzgibbon Award winning book How I Alienated my Grandma - such an awesome read!, to Tom Moffatt, this year's Tom Fitzgibbon winner, and Joy Halloran-Davidson, the 2015 Joy Cowely Award winner.

Here is the full Notable Books List for 2015:-

Notable Books List 2015

The 2015 list is for books published in 2014. 
Storylines Notable Picture Books List 2015
Books for children and/ or young adult where the narrative is carried equally by pictures and story
  • Blackie the Fisher Cat by Janet Pereira, illustrated by Gabriella Klepatski (Craig Potton Publishing).
  • Have You Seen a Monster by Raymond McGrath (Penguin).
  • Jim’s Letters by Glyn Harper, illustrated by Jenny Cooper (Penguin).
  • Kakapo Dance by Helen Taylor (Penguin).
  • I Am Not A Worm by Scott Tulloch (Scholastic).
  • The Song of Kauri by Melinda Szymanik, illustrated by Dominique Ford (Scholastic).
  • The Anzac Puppy by Peter Millett, illustrated by Trish Bowles (Scholastic).
  • My New Zealand ABC Book by James Brown (Te Papa Tongarewa, Museum of NZ).
  • My New Zealand Colours Book by James Brown (Te Papa Tongarewa, Museum of NZ).
  • Construction by Sally Sutton, illustrated by Brian Lovelock (Walker Books)

Storylines Notable Junior Fiction List 2015
Fiction suitable for primary and intermediate-aged children.
  • The Volume of Possible Endings by Barbara Else (Gecko Press).
  • Island of Lost Horses by Stacy Gregg (HarperCollins).
  • Conrad Cooper’s Last Stand by Leonie Agnew (Penguin).
  • Teddy One Eye: The Autobiography of a Teddy Bear by Gavin Bishop (Random House).
  • MNZS: Harbour Bridge by Philippa Werry (Scholastic).
  • Monkey Boy by Donovan Bixley (Scholastic).
  • Trouble in Time by Adele Broadbent (Scholastic).
  • The Name at the End of the Ladder by Elena De Roo (Walker Books).
  • Ophelia Wild, Deadly Detective by Elena De Roo ( Walker Books).
Storylines Notable Young Adult Fiction List 2015
Fiction suitable for upper intermediate and secondary school students.
  • While We Run by Karen Healey (Allen & Unwin).
  • Speed Of Light by Joy Cowley (Gecko Press).
  • I Am Rebecca by Fleur Beale (Random House).
  • Singing Home The Whale by Mandy Hager (Random House).
  • Spark by Rachael Craw (Walker Books).
Storylines Notable Non-Fiction List 2015
For authoritative, well-designed information books accessible to children and young adults.
  • A Little ABC Book by Jenny Palmer (Beatnik Publishing).
  • Maori Art for Kids by Julie Noanoa, illustrated by Norm Heke (Craig Potton Publishing).
  • Under The Ocean: Explore & Discover NZ’s Sealife by Gillian Candler, illustrated by Ned Barraud (Craig Potton Publishing).
  • The Book of Hat by Harriet Rowland (Makaro Press).
  • New Zealand Sports Hall of Fame: 25 Kiwi Champions by Maria Gill, illustrated by Marco Ivancic (New Holland Publishers).
  • A Treasury of NZ Poems edited by Paula Green, illustrated by Jenny Cooper (Random House).
  • Ghoulish Get-Ups by Fifi Colston (Scholastic).
  • The Letterbox Cat & Other Poems by Paula Green, illustrated by Myles Lawford (Scholastic).
  • Piggy Pasta & More Food with Attitude by Rebecca Woolfall and Suzi Tait-Bradly (Scholastic).
  • A New Zealand Nature Journal by Sandra Morris (Walker Books)

Monday, March 23, 2015

The Tricksy Business of Novel Writing ...

I am loving hanging out at the Pah Homestead - it is a stunning oasis surrounded by suburbia, with views and art and lush greenness and creative vibes. I have the loveliest space to work in and zero distractions. And there is a cafe right beneath me if I need fuel or refreshment. I am already cracking on with the new project which is very exciting. And somewhat surprising.

Before I wrote my first complete novel, Jack the Viking, back in 2005/2006 I was riddled with a lot of assumptions about how writers and publishing worked. I wish I'd written them down because they would give me a jolly good chuckle now. They shared little in common with reality. One revolved around the notion that once I'd written my first novel all subsequent novels would be easy to write because I would 'know' how to do it. Hahahahahahahaha - no.

Another was the idea that you started at the start and worked your way through to the end.

And you completed a first draft, then reworked the story through however many drafts it needed till it was the polished gem it had to be for submission.

And that you could treat it like a daily job. 9 to 5.


And if you think there is one right way to write a novel STOP. You are wrong! But hang on, actually, in a way, you are also right.

Arghhh - tricksy business!!

The truth is...

There are many different ways to write a novel. Planning it in great detail, chapter by chapter. Or starting with the flash of an idea and just seeing where it leads you. Working in a linear fashion from start to finish, starting at the end and working backwards, or shifting around constantly filling in bits all over the place. If none of these is how you are doing it, that's Ok. The way that is working for you is the right way.

Cherish that first time you write The End. And every subsequent time as well. Celebrate it. Because each time will be an achievement of a significant magnitude. Completing a novel will indeed teach you an awful lot about the novel writing process. Trouble is, it changes us as well. I don't want to do the same thing I did last time. I want to push myself and try harder and be more ambitious. I want to try and explore more challenging topics. I want to be a better writer. Always. I hope each novel improves on the one before. But they are never easy.

I wish I could write a predetermined number of words every day. 1000 sounds nice. How easy it would be to plan my life. Make a writing habit, people say. Just sit down at the desk and start typing they say. It's all about discipline. Hah. If only my brain obeyed my wishes. If only the rest of my life would stay uncomplicated, with a good night's sleep every night, without crises and unexpected demands, surprises and disappointments and things that occupy your conscious unbidden like a protest group on a sit in. It's hard work creating something completely new out of your imagination. Some days are good days with lots of lovely words flowing freely. Other days are best forgotten. At least I know I am capable of completing a project and, like eating an elephant (metaphorically of course), it is best achieved one bite at a time. I might not make the story longer every day but at least I try to make it better.

It has been a novel experience with the new project. Up till now my previous stories have been told in linear order, start to finish. This time ideas are popping up from different parts of the story. I jot everything down and then type it in where I think it belongs best. I can cut and paste later if need be. It is a little discomforting because to a certain extent my brain likes order. But the beginning is resisting arrest and I could easily get stuck there. And my mind is leaping ahead. Why not follow it and see where it goes? I am willing to accept that this way, as odd as it is for me, might produce a finished product equally well, so it makes sense to give in to it. I have a loose framework in mind for the plot, so I will just have to make sure every part is in place when I am done. Piece of cake. Hmmm.

And drafts. In the past I have drafted and redrafted as I've gone along. My first complete draft has been massaged and titivated as I've gone along. It makes me slower but then I end up with a product closer to a final version. Swings and roundabouts I suppose. It works for me so I will keep doing it that way. Unless I change my mind and do it a different way because that seems right at the time. I never say never. The aim is to complete a manuscript I am happy with. How I get there is open to change.