Come in, come in. I’ve been round the corner to the hotel for some pastries and muffins but there’s some chicken satay too and a Thai chickeny porridge/broth thing if you’re feeling brave. There’s real coffee if you can work the machine (I can’t) or instant (I can do that.) And of course there’s tea. I can do PG, a selection of Twinings as well as a variety of green teas. That Oolong on the right is from North Thailand and is very good.
In my second and third year of art college we had to attend ‘critiques.’ It was prescribed that you attend as audience to your peers as well as present your own work in progress. The critiques were feedback but they were also about showing that you understood your own work; that you could see where it fitted contextually and that you could see the implicit as well as the explicit meanings of it.
I’ve been thinking about this because my industry day with the Literary Consultancy, is approaching. The day isn’t about sealing a deal and anyway I’m not finished and don’t wish to present a not-ready piece of work. But of course I will certainly be asked during the day what I am writing.
And it occurred to me this is pretty similar to the process I experienced in art college. We have to be able to contextualise … who are our audience? What is our genre? What writers would we pick out as being similar to our books? We have to be able to understand the themes we wrote consciously about as well as those that may have reared their heads all on their own. When we’re asked, we have to be able to say succinctly what our book is about.
Phew! We’ve got to know all that and write the thing too?
So my question is this: how do you go about understanding what you’ve written? How do you detect the themes that keep on appearing even though you had no plan to include them? Do you rely on your own instincts? Or hope that your trusted readers identify spot them?