Just When I Thought I’d Cracked It…

Hello there.

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.


head in hands

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.

Chop chop!

Chop chop!

(Ignore me. I just wanted an excuse to use the word ‘lollygagging’).

Happy Thursday.

9 thoughts on “Just When I Thought I’d Cracked It…

  1. Kate Curtis

    After reading your last few blogs, it is lovely to hear (read?) you so wired and engaged in your work. Never under estimate how much you are growing and how much you have already achieved. Disappointment is probably along that road but don’t beat yourself up over it. Allow yourself to feel it, (it’s natural!) accept it for what it is and continue to grow. I have further to travel than you, but thank you for helping me face my fears in watching you face yours. Oodles of respect. 😀

    1. SJ O'Hart Post author

      Well, that’s made my day. 😀

      Thank you for this lovely comment. It’s amazing to think that these ramblings of mine can help someone else! I want to wish you all the best with your own journey, and thank you so much for all the help you’ve given me. Respect right back at ya! 🙂

  2. anna3101

    Oh how I understand you about cleaning up your files! I actually always add this into the list of my hobbies 🙂 Doesn’t it feel good to have your computer all tidied up and looking neat? With your ebooks sorted into categories?

    1. SJ O'Hart Post author

      Thanks – both for the video and the lofty comparison! I can’t actually hear the audio on your link, but I think it’s an issue with my headphones. I’ll sort it out and come back to it asap. I really appreciate you taking the time to link to the lecture for me. I really hope I don’t have any more bed-time epiphanies – I’ve just finished inputting the last of my edits and corrections, and now I really need to sleep. 😀

      1. Maurice A. Barry

        I hope you get it working–it’s worth the bother. Nick is a very insightful and entertaining lecturer. Bet your weather’s better than mine today–just waiting for my two oldest to finish classes here at MUN and get home before it gets too bad. Big storm coming in–probably 75-85 cm of snow between now and Saturday morning. …might put a few pictures on the blog Saturday.

  3. aanderand

    ‘lollygagging’, that just about sums up my day so far, it is a lovely word.
    Only having a vague idea about your book but I think the scene change is a winner. The reader will know from the get go that the heroine is a force to be reckoned with. Plus, the scene now speaks to my personal experience so I am even more eager to read the novel.
    I need to start editing my NaNo, so I liked the things you said about the older work you thought was rubbish. I am afraid that is what I am going to think of the NaNo when I get digging into it, so I do not have high expectations for it. It is due to be released to a review group on March 21 but probably parts will show up here as I go along. Unless, I choose to abandon it all together.
    Yes, I need to get things organized and cleaned out on this computer. It is getting so slow. Sometimes, it is easier to just move to another one (I have 5 working ones) but this is the only laptop. So, on my ‘lollygagging’ days, I can sit in bed and write.
    I will be thinking about you and the storm this weekend. I am not sure I should tell you or not but maybe it will help knowing of warmer places elsewhere. Atlanta is suppose to be sunny and in the 70’sF this weekend. We have hit bottom in the average low temperatures for the year, it is all up hill from here. So, I will be envying you in May when we are in the upper 90’sF.
    Boy, I am being really chatty today, maybe I should have made this my blog post. Anyway, last bit of news. It is, also, American football playoff weekend and my old city, Seattle, is playing my new city, Atlanta, for a championship. A lot of mixed feelings and friendly trash talk between my brother, nephew, and myself.
    Stay warm and cozy.

    1. SJ O'Hart Post author

      Thanks for this lovely comment. I really enjoy your warm, news-filled words, so please don’t change the way you write! 🙂 I’m sure there’s lots to be admired in your NaNo novel, and I look forward to reading some more of it, whenever you post it on your blog (or have it for sale!) It’s funny how something you write can seem really bad when you revisit it later, but it’s good for your writing – it shows you how much you’ve improved in the meantime, and it lets you make something good out of a piece of work that might have gone nowhere otherwise. So, be positive when you re-read your work. Even if it seems bad, remember that it’s actually very important – it’s a starting point! Anything is better than a blank screen!
      I don’t think I could cope with heat and humidity like you get in Atlanta. I’m definitely built for cold weather! I like to think I’m part-Viking, so I’m used to it. 🙂
      Thanks for your good wishes, and for paying me such a lovely visit.


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