So I’m writing a book

Great photo of a Spotter in London during the Battle of Britain I found while researching.

Great photo of a Spotter in London during the Battle of Britain I uncovered while researching.

Last night I passed a milestone for a long-form writing project, locking in the semi-detailed outline, basically the overarching narrative, for the book I’ve been working on since the beginning of the year.

It’s Fiction. Spaceships. Wormholes. Bicentegenarian celebrities. Politics. Media. Post-Earth. Post-Heteronormative. Transgalactic Corporate Hegemony. You know, all the usual fun stuff.

The main character is a fighter pilot who has just finished her ten years ‘service’ in a fierce galactic civil war. She just wants to go home and put the things she has seen and done behind her, but it’s probably not going to work out that easily. And her last remaining relative has been sentenced to lifettime cryogenic indentured service.

The working title is “Red Sands.” But that’ll probably change.

I’ve been reticent to talk about it to too many people before now. Until I just pulled that last thread together it didn’t feel totally real and I wasn’t 100% certain I was going to get there. I’ve begun writing large scale projects before. I have two first draft novels and a third draft of a screenplay in my “bottom drawer” for starters. They’ve all stalled for various reasons.

I’ve often found (and from what I’ve read this doesn’t appear unusual) it’s easy to get long writing projects started, and the character and the world established, or to even. It’s much trickier to know what the steps are between one and the other. And given the middle is often the longest part of the book, it’s kinda important to get it right.

So after months of scene writing and thinking and research and sketching and world building I feel pretty happy to have locked in some of the key structural elements and know what’s going to happen through the whole thing.

It started as a short story I wrote as part of a short story workshop I did at the NSW Writers’ Centre last year. After almost five years in full-time politics I was out of practice – the only fiction I’d written in that time was media releases 😉 By the end of the course I had flexed my fiction muscles, established some good routines, and written a “short story” which I realised was really a tentative journey into a much larger world.

Process wise, I’ve also done two excellent writing workshops – one at Gleebooks with the great people who run Seizure Online, and the other at Urchin Books, my favourite inner west Sydney secondhand bookshop – through both of which I’ve met many excellent people – and these have been great to keep me writing from one week to the next.

Anyway, I’m sure when I start threading all the scraps of cloth I’ve been collecting to the pattern I’ll need to make some alterations, but it’s there – an exciting shiny world to keep exploring – woot!


  • susy johnson says:

    Hi Mark

    Congratulations on beginning a book which sounds fascinating and with your humour and gift for language I am sure it will resonate with the public! Sounds like you have put so much work and thought into where you should go with it -before you settled on a topic/path you wanted to take with you.

    I have only written non-fiction ie. for magazines &’The All-Australian Beauty Book’ years ago as Susan Lorne-Johnson with D Prussak and -something I am pleased about – the story of the first Foundling Institution in Sydney ‘Betrayed and Forsaken- Official Hist of the Foundling Inst now the Infants’ Home Ashfield’ [also as Susan Lorne-Johnson] because it is on many womens”, stolen children etc. sites and has helped people find their families.

    I have started fictional pieces myself and have one I am pleased with about animal activism through the ages but even that is only half-fictional. I find my own fiction tends to be v.cliched & boring & I give up- I hate stories about people who look in the mirror and ‘toss their long red hair’ and look for soul mates etc. My library -which used to be hundreds of books on movies which I sold to a second hand store when I came down here- is now all political non-fiction mostly mid-east but I do like Balzac and movie bios and books on jewellery/netsuke & fashion.

    Anyway enough already about me – I am very glad to have discovered your blog and will read your thoughts on other subjects you have listed. Since moving to Highlands I love it here & Greens group so nice but I do miss the big -then busy- Bennelong Ryde-Epping group – our candidate Lindsay Peters who got Maxine McKew over line to beat Howard is brother of Cathy Peters who may be in your area?

    I hope you maintain your tremendous enthusiasm for your project – I know by the time you near the end of something you read and re-read it and cant tell whether things are good or bad because you are so close to your own work. I hope you have someone nearby who is fairly non-judgemental & you can trust to run things by sometimes when you feel a bit insecure. Often you actually dont want other people’s opinions because you know just where you are going- but sometimes it can put some other thoughts in the mix. Anyway,I think that lateral thought process you have going all the time yourself would be just the thing for a story like yours!
    Do email me some time/any time and tell me how you & project are going.
    Susy J 3
    Bowral G media

    • Mark Riboldi says:

      Hi Susy,

      Thanks very much for the enthusiastic support – I really appreciate it! I’ll definitely keep going, and I’ll add you to an email list of people I update once a month to let them know what I’m up to 🙂


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