Approaches to writing - Michael Dale

2 April 2012 / Leave a Comment


Michael Dale
Rude Awakening
This breakthrough novel takes an unflinching look at London's cubicle-driven society. Junior accountant Lucas Swink blows up a window and leaps out the office block, in an attempt to awaken the masses.


What inspired the idea behind your story?


At the end of 2010 my business had failed and my baby daughter was due in three months time. Out of sheer desperation, and after lengthy discussions with my wife about how far our savings would stretch, she convinced me to follow my crazy dream and to actually try to make a living out of something I really loved: writing. On 1 January 2011 I sat down with an idea in mind. After graduating with a life-coaching diploma at the beginning of 2010, my teacher had suggested I expand on my thesis on personal development. Now I thought I would write just that. I was sick of encouraging others to follow their dreams in coaching sessions; I felt I needed to take my own advice.
But I could not get further than the first paragraph. I was completely blocked. Why add another book to the piles of invariably useless potted wisdom that suffocate so many bookshops and when bought sit unread and only make us feel worse about ourselves? So I rebelled. I started writing a filthy, bullshit, trashy novel. Suddenly I couldn’t stop – I was addicted! The story started flowing out of me like runny fecal matter. At the end of 2011 I had come full circle and completed a semi-autobiographical story. The novel acts as a powerful platform to share my insights into improving the human condition in a more real, funny and meaningful way than I ever could have hoped for.


How long did the first draft take to write? 


Around 7 or 8 months.


And how would you describe this process?


Grueling! Some days it flows and other days it doesn’t! Those are the difficult ones. Self-doubt can really suck me in sometimes but I just kind of follow my heart. I know it sounds cheesy but in my opinion you need to have a hell of a lot of heart to write well. Editors can help with technical stuff but heart is what really counts. Heart is what connects a reader with your work and for me connection is key. As for how I got in touch with my heart, I chose to face my fears. In a lot of ways writing Rude Awakening was a deeply cathartic therapeutic process.


Where do you write and how often and how long do you spend writing?


I see any story as simply a framework for a greater truth to find form and really secondary to that truth. The key for me is creating enough space for it to emerge. Elizabeth Gilbert's TED talk, entitled A New Way To Think About Creativity, was a huge help. Watch it! It really takes the edge off. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=86x-u-tz0MA%E2%80%A8


My inspiration comes in waves I just try to ride them while they're around. I tend to write anywhere I can find a bit of peace of quiet. My office or cave, as it’s affectionately known in our house, is a favoured spot, but literally anywhere. I often write on my Blackberry while I'm waiting in the car or even in the queue at the supermarket. Usually some concept just gets stuck in my head and won’t leave me alone until I scribble it down. There is actually no rhyme or reason to my writing, which is unsettling at the best of times. If I am on a good run I can write for days on end. My wife often has to tell me to stop and eat or take a shower or something; I go into a kind of trance. When I'm very lucky I capture an idea perfectly in minutes. That is such a beautiful feeling, but scarce. One particular paragraph in Rude Awakening springs to mind.


How do you go about rewriting and editing your book? And how has it changed from the initial draft?


After the first draft of Rude Awakening was finished I tried to take breaks between my edits and rewrites. That's the most important thing for me. Like any relationship, both partners need space, no matter how much you love each other. If you're in each other’s faces all the time things just get stale. Live life large and there is a lot to write about. Writing is not a substitute for living.


The actual rewriting process itself comes naturally to me, I read something I’ve written and if it doesn't feel right I change it, and keep changing it until it hits the spot. Though I’m always weary of overdoing it. 
On completion of the first draft I subsequently went over Rude Awakening with a fine toothcomb about ten or fifteen times before I was satisfied. Some chapters must have been rewritten fifty times. Paragraphs and sentences I had slaved over for hours were brutally sliced away –heartbreaking! Mind you, I always stick substantial deletions in the trash file (a blank word document) for future reference, nothing is wasted. Just because something doesn’t fit in one book doesn’t mean it won’t work in another. 
When I could really do no more and was at risk of harming my manuscript, I gave it to my editor. She is technically brilliant to the point of obsessive and complements my creative madness quite beautifully. What she loved about working on my book was how tidy it was already. The less work your editor has to do, the more attention to detail you will get.


So in terms of changes from the initial draft, Rude Awakening just got tighter and tighter as the process unfolded, finally emerging into the seamless twenty-four hour read it is for a lot of people. Without ego, I can honestly say it’s hard to put down and even harder not to pick up again...


...The next thing will be getting it made into a movie. You know how it goes; I know someone who knows someone, who knows someone that might have the contacts to make it happen. A couple of independent filmmakers are interested as well, so we shall see. 




When is a book finished?

A book is finished when it’s out there doing its thing – when people are reading it and loving and hating it. The stronger the reaction the better! For me Rude Awakening felt finished when I got my first review, which I simply cannot resist sharing with you. Peace!
“Definitely not for the faint hearted!!……Hunter S. Thompson channels Ron Jeremy in this pornographic Odyssey of ballistic prose, assaulting the norms of fiction and blending amazing story telling with hilarious hard hitting ejaculations of literary originality! Mr Dale refreshes with an unapologetic tale of modern hedonistic/masochistic corporate cubicle love/hate reverse fairy tale adventure interspersed with astute psychological observation….my read of the year!”

Anthony Chemaly, Amazon: www.amazon.com/dp/B0072WD4LG




Rude Awakening by Michael Dale is available on amazon.com in hard copy and e-book formats. 

Visit http://www.mrmichaeldale.com/ for more info on the author. 

Connect with Michael on Twitter: @michaeldale9

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