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Writing a first novel: A lime tree is not a poplar

Finishing writing a first novel is a small victory in itself. We discovered the pitfalls of construction, the vagaries of inspiration, the pitfalls of style and crises of confidence. Who will tell the hours spent on a line, a sentence, a paragraph?…   Alice and the words  collected the impressions of some promising talents at the end of their first novelistic experience. Today: Jacqueline Dewerdt who publishes “A lime tree is not a poplar” with Zonaires editions.

How long have you been writing?

I started writing in 2008 in a writing workshop. Very quickly I also wrote at seo writing services and sent texts to short story competitions. A first success in 2009 encouraged me to continue.

How did the idea for the novel come about?

I wrote a first text during an email workshop that you led in the summer of 2014: “Writing with Patrick Modiano”. A failed news story. Too many characters, too much complex information, unsolved mysteries. Too much for news? Why not a novel? As someone who likes to write short, even very short, I launched into it headlong, without a battle plan, without an idea of ​​what was going to happen. I then discovered the pleasure of letting myself go without restraint in describing real or imaginary places in detail, in inventing characters, false memories, vivid, moving or amusing scenes! A year later, I had more than four hundred sheets, but the characters are still a little vague, and above all no real story and no idea of ​​its ending.

Rigor became necessary if I wanted to succeed. I tackled the character sheets, synopsis, structure table. After a writing course and with the help of seo writing services, I developed a plot, structured the story, filled in the ellipses, cut many of these scenes that I had had so much pleasure writing and which turned out to be unnecessary, cumbersome or redundant. And I chose an ending. I still had to rework the words, the sentences, the rhythm, which is what I love most of all. In total, two and a half years of daily work.

Tell us a few words about the novel (the theme — without revealing the whole story, the characters, the atmosphere, etc.).

Family secrets and the quest for identity are at the heart of the novel. How to build yourself when you don’t know where you come from?

In general, do you write knowing the outcome of a story or do you discover it while writing?

Sometimes I write short stories from the end, but more often than not, I don’t know where I’m going. I let the characters do their thing. I visualize them, I hear them, I listen to them and I follow them. I don’t direct them. I also happen seo writing services, once the text is finished, to turn everything upside down, to try another narrator, another point of view and see what that gives. Going towards the unknown is not comfortable, it requires letting go which suits me. And when, at the end of the day, a real surprise arises, what a pleasure!

How do you write: in a notebook or on the computer? Do you have any writing rituals?

At the beginning, I wrote in pencil on paper, right page, every other line. The line spacing was used for small corrections (I did not erase), the left page accommodated additions or more important corrections. Little by little, the use of the computer became established and is now exclusive. I keep many different versions of my texts but I very rarely refer to them. I don’t have a ritual, probably because I write in different places. I really like, for example, writing on trains.

What is your writing pace? How many hours per day/per week?

When I have a project in progress, I write every day, at least an hour, most often two or more. Late afternoon is my favorite. It’s my happy hour! But as I have multiple activities, I adapt.

How do you deal with “off” days? What are your “tips” for tackling the blank page?

If a project is in progress, no problem with a blank page, I write. I assume that I can’t write the page of the century every day, so it doesn’t matter what I write. Starting from what already exists, lines written the day before, which I reread or not, developing notes taken at night (or anytime. In my notebook but especially on scraps of paper with which the notebook is full).

When a project is finished without succession being assured, like at the book writing service, I don’t write. But ideas are swirling around in my head, maturing very slowly; the little papers pile up. The day a shape presents itself, I will get back to it.

Do you have any favorite themes?

Family stories, identity gaps, impossible mourning, the excluded. I love childhood memories, mine or those of others, I like to look for what sheds light on the present.

What has attending writing workshops brought to your practice?

Everything, and it’s not easy to say it. Without the workshops, I would not have written, I would not have published. Workshop work brought me pleasure, confidence, and techniques. The proposed themes and shapes allowed me to experiment and find my favorite style and shapes. The Manuscript Workshop* supported me over the long term and allowed me to overcome difficulties.

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