Tuesday 12 April 2016

Well, would you look at that?

It's been a month since I last posted.  A month. How did that happen?  Actually, scratch that question; I suspect that all I need to say is 'Easter Holidays' and anyone who has, has had, or ever plans to have, children attending school will probably understand.

The little darlings are back in class today though, so life has resumed it's normal rhythm.  Which is to say, I have been kicked out of the office because Husband is 'working from home' this morning and so I've been banished to the dining room table.  Not, in itself, that much of a hardship since it's closer to the tea and biscuits.  And the chocolate.  And the left-over Dutch Easter bread.  And - oh, jesus, I have to stop this right now.

*casts desperately about for a change of subject*

You might have noticed that productivity has fallen off a cliff as far as this blog is concerned.  That's because I have been 'finishing' The Great Work, aka My Novel.

*pause whilst tumbleweed rolls through the streets of 'Oh, Who Cares?'*

(Apologies for the gratuitous use of caps in the last couple of lines; they are of course totally unmerited, but, you know, it's My Blog.  So...)

An explanation now for the use of apostrophes around the word 'finishing'.  (A few of lines above  this - come on, keep up...).   Anyone who has ever spent *mumbles incomprehensively* years attempting to write a novel will probably know how difficult it is to actually finish it.  Especially a first novel.  An un-comissioned, un-represented, probably un-wanted first novel...

But, you know, that's just detail.  The difficulty that I'm trying to communicate here is in the finishing.  Because every time you think you've completed your ms (short for 'manuscript' - get me with the writer talk), you spot another typo.  Or a novice mistake.  God, the novice mistakes...  For example, if you're writing an observational passage in which a man has an unspoken thought, is it necessary to write '... he thought to himself.'?  No.  Of course it isn't.  Because that would be foolish.  I mean, who else would he be thinking it to?

It is, therefore, worth bearing this in mind whilst editing your ms (cough) down to the requisite sub-100,000 words.  If you don't you will just have to go back through the damn thing again to take the offending phrase out, each and every time you've used it.   And during this exercise you will of course find a million other phrases that sound trite, unconvincing or just down-right unnecessary and which will also need to be removed from the narrative for the sake of your sanity and more importantly, to avoid sounding like a 12 year old.

So, when I thought I had finished the ms (feel free to substitute 'damn thing' for ms if that seems appropriate - it did to me), it turned out that actually, I hadn't; there was still a fair bit of weeding to go.  And whilst I was at it, it seemed like a good time to drop in the additional narrative from another character's point of view that not one but two people Whose Opinions I Should Have Taken More Seriously At The Time suggested almost a year ago.  Which of course required a fairly hefty rewrite of about about 30% of the book if I was going to keep it under the 100,000 word limit.


It's done now.  And just to make sure of that I've taken a couple of precautionary measures.

1.  I've started on the next one.  Well, when I say 'started' (again with the apostrophes), I mean I've drawn a few spidergrammes and written the first chapter - the one that I will no doubt edit out in time but which seems essential to the plot right now.

2.  I've submitted the first Great Work to a couple of competitions and a couple of agents.  Will anything come of that?  Who knows.  But nothing ventured, nothing gained, and at least the ruddy thing is finished.  (Well - until I open it back up and decide to start tinkering again...).