Writing at a Lighthouse – or is it raptor watching at the keyboard?

I have a busy couple of weeks ahead. I have just received editorial feedback for my latest submission – the second book of The Mirage Makers trilogy. A prologue to be written and a few tweaks to be made (I am utterly delighted that there was so few) and two weeks before the manuscript should be back at HarperCollins.

The book is called Exaltarch and has proved to be one of the hardest books I’ve ever had to write. I ended up doing a number of very major rewrites – I reckon I must have turfed at least 50,000 words along the way, possibly more! Somehow the structure would not come right at first – while the deadline passed further and further into the past, but it seems I finally nailed it as I now have a happy editor.

Now, as I do the sprucing up suggested, I am at that wondrous stage when I finally begin to think, “Hey! This is not too bad after all!”

And then there’s the raptor watch coming up. I shall be spending a number of days sitting at a lighthouse on a Cape, watching over the Straits of Malacca for the arrival of the honey-buzzards, bee-eaters, swifts, bazas, sparrowhawks and such. We are doing a count. If we get bored because nothing is coming in, then we can look straight down onto a coral reef and watch the turtles. Or I can write, laptop on my knee… I can think of worse ways to spend a few days! I’ll even get some exercise: to get to the lighthouse there is a very steep walk through the rainforest.

When the birds do arrive, of course the two of us counters will be busy – counting and identifying.

I find the whole event amazingly moving. These birds choose this spot to cross the straits because it is the narrowest point between Indonesia and Peninsular Malaysia. This is particularly important to the larger raptors – they need thermals to travel long distances because their weight to wingspan ratio is such that they tire easily if they have to flap over long distances. And you don’t get thermals over water.

As they approach the lighthouse, they are exhausted. If the wind conditions aren’t good, you can actually see them panting as they struggle the last few metres – and then they hit the rising warm air over the land, they stop their flapping and gradually rise as they circle… maybe I just imagine the look of relief on their faces. And they still have thousands of miles to go.


Writing at a Lighthouse – or is it raptor watching at the keyboard? — 6 Comments

  1. A happy editor is a glorious thing. Even more glorious is a satisfied writer. Congrats on producing a manuscript both you and the editor are proud of. I’ve a smidgen of an idea how hard you’ve worked on this one, and I applaud your gutbusting dedication. I’m also panting to read the book … and so looking forward to the launch of Heart of the Mirage. You can almost say Next Month now! Wheeee!

  2. Onya, Glenda. Y’know what those raptors are doing? They’re coming to congratulate you on finishing Exultarch. Fantastic!
    And a message for Anonymous – wish I’d been there to have ice cream with you at the Aurealis party! I’m very happy Juliet Marillier won, but I wish you *all* could have won, really! So many good books – the judges have a terrible task. Your turn another year, I’m sure; Glenda and Karen both.

  3. Yep – I’m happy! And certain friends of mine have a lot to do with that.
    Satima, I do wish I could have gone to the Aurealis Awards this year too, even though I didn’t have a book published in 2005. I am looking forward to the day when my daughter is settled in Oz, and I have another excuse to see you all and attend things like that! 🙂

  4. As I said to Karen earlier in an e-mail – next year, brethren, in Jerusalem…well Perth, anyway, for Swancon 2007!

  5. “A happy editor is a glorious thing. Even more glorious is a satisfied writer.”

    Now if only the two events happened at once 🙂

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.