So, you may remember, the other day, I was crowing about coming close to finishing my final draft, after which I was planning to be so sick of my book and characters that I would – definitively – not be changing anything else. That was it. End of story.
That was before something really important about one of the scenes in my WiP struck me last night as I was going to sleep (it’s always just as you’re about to go to sleep!), and I realised it would have to be changed. The scene has always bothered me, to be fair. I knew there was something not quite right about it. It comes just as our heroine has had enough of the tension in her home, and she decides to run away. As it currently stands, I have her sneaking out behind her father’s back and hoping he doesn’t notice; it struck me that it would be a much stronger scene (plus, it would help me with a plot point) if she confronted her dad on the way out, and they had an argument. It doesn’t sound like a big change, but it is – I’ve learned, the hard way, that you never change just one thing in a novel-in-progress. If you pull a thread, you need to follow it the whole way through to make sure nothing else gets yanked out of line as a result. But I’m assuming an air of stoic determination. I’ll get it done. And the book will be better for it, I hope.
Yesterday, I took a day away from the WiP (I still have to input all my edits and corrections, y’see – so I’m not quite done with it yet!), and one of the things I did was dig out an old piece of work, one I haven’t seen for about three years. I was amazed by it. Not because of its sheer world-changing brilliance, or anything like that, I hesitate to assure you. No – I was amazed by how vomit-inducingly bad it was. The idea at the core of the piece was good, and I’m still going to use it, but the writing is horrendous. Sweet Jehovah. At least I know I’ve learned something since I wrote this old piece – in a weird way, it made me feel better about myself. I no longer spell out every… tiny… detail for the reader; I no longer fill page after page with pointless, boring backstory; I no longer write scenes in which a character makes a sandwich, for instance, where every minute step in the process is described in full. Now, I’d just say ‘he made a sandwich.’ As I read, though, I realised that this story would make a perfect trilogy for younger readers, if it was completely reworked from the ground up. So, that’s what I’m going to do when the current WiP is done, and out in the world, doing the Agents and Publishers tour. It’s good to have a plan.
I also organised all my files. That was exciting. I know, I know, I shouldn’t be overwhelming you all with the glamour and glitz of my life, but I just can’t help myself! But it really was exciting, in a way. As well as making my scattered Word files so much easier to find, it means I now have a list of folders, one for each WiP – no matter how fragmentary or sketchy it is at the moment – all lined up one under the other. And it sort of looks like the lists of titles you sometimes see on the flyleaf of a book, under the heading Also by this author or By the same author. It gave me a momentary sense of what it might be like to have a list of finished, published books under my belt, and it was a good feeling. When I was coming near the end of my PhD, all those moons ago, I used to imagine my finished, bound thesis sort of floating in the air in front of me as I walked in and out to university every day. It was like the carrot on the end of the stick, tempting me on, keeping me going. ‘You can do this,’ my dream-thesis would croon to me. Well, this list of possible future books is a bit like that. It’s hanging in my mind like a beautiful vision, begging me to keep putting one word behind another. I’m sure not all the fragmentary ideas I have will turn into books – maybe some will be jettisoned, or absorbed into other ideas. But, hopefully, some of them will cross the finish line, and some of them will be read by eyes other than my own. That would be sweet.
Well, I’d better crack on. I don’t wish to appear rude, but I have a lot of work to do today, and I don’t have time for this lollygagging.
(Ignore me. I just wanted an excuse to use the word ‘lollygagging’).