Review Blog

Aug 02 2013

A. J. Betts on writing

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With novels, I usually have a production line happening. As one is being printed and released, I'm already well into the next. Zac and Mia, for example, was begun between edits of Wavelength, my second novel. I like to keep writing, spurred on by the next alluring idea.
But this time my slick production line has ground to a halt. The writing of Zac and Mia was so consuming and the editing so intense that now, at its release, I'm still in stun mode. There's no room in my head or heart for anything else.
I do know what the next novel will be though. It's something that's been brewing for eight years, ever since I drove through a tunnel and noticed a drop of water falling from its ceiling. Over the past eight years, the idea has grown tentacles (as good ideas do) and it's ready for me to grab and see what it does. I've already done a lot of research, but I'm yet to put pen to paper. I do have the first line though: 'We had no word for ocean'.
Fortuitously, it's a novel far removed from my reality and the story of Zac and Mia. The next novel (I'll call it Vault for now) is set three hundred years in the future, off the coast of Tasmania. The creative freedom this offers is very appealing. I want each novel to be a whole new creation, with unseen challenges for me as an author. I rebel against boredom and complacency! Once the Zac and Mia whirlwind settles, I'll find a quiet space and get back into the rhythm of writing. I hope to have Vault under control (a first draft, perhaps) by the end of 2014.
I plan to continue teaching and lecturing, though on a part-time basis. I'm trying to get right balance of author-life and teacher-life, but it's not easy. Teaching is great, but it takes a lot of energy to do a good job. Being a full-time writer isn't a possibility . . . yet. After all, I need to fund my obsessions with coffee, pastries, travel and bicycles (I have five). Winning the Text Prize has enabled me to reduce my teaching load this year to focus on editing, and now publicising, Zac and Mia. It's also given me that precious boost of confidence which all writers - no matter how experienced - need every now and then.
Amanda Betts

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