Boy, oh boy. It has been a slow old morning this morning.
It seems almost too cruel to be under the weather on a Monday – as if the day wasn’t hard enough, you have to carry the extra burden of ill-health, too? – but one cannot choose these things, of course. I’m exhausted, and shaky, and my head is doing that weird swooshy thing that makes you feel like you’re on a roller-coaster*, and I’d love to be able to press ctrl+alt+del and begin again, but it ain’t happenin’.
So, what are you gonna do? Keep on keepin’ on, of course.
I was away from my desk this weekend, off doing happy things with my family, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t have words on my mind. (Perish the thought!) I made contingency plans and arranged my work around my life – which, were I to be engaged in anything besides writing a book, would be a dreadfully bad idea, of course.
On Friday, before I embarked upon my weekend road-trip, I printed out my WiP, equipped myself with an array of writing implements and got myself ready to carry out an edit. I knew I’d have a few empty hours which I needed to fill, and I couldn’t think of a better way to occupy myself than ripping the guts out of my own work. I felt the book (even though it’s only partially completed) was substantial enough to stand a touch of dissection, and luckily I was right.
On this point, though, it’s useful to print out your WiP for several reasons; one of them, of course, is that you can bring your red pen out and slash it to ribbons (tough love, and all that), but another is that printing your book-in-progress allows you to see how much work you’ve actually done. It does a lot for your self-belief when you feel a little like you’ve run out of steam. My WiP – ‘Web’ – is only a little over halfway written, but I had been wondering whether what I’d managed to do had any value, or held together as a story. Printing and reading it as a whole allowed me to see it as one ‘thing’ instead of a random string of disconnected chapters (which is how a book appears when you’re creating it); it’s far from perfect or ready, of course, and most of it will probably end up either being junked or changed beyond all recognition before I’d consider it ready to submit to anyone, but at least now I know it does have a reasonable flow and it’s pretty much functioning as it should.
Which is more than can be said for my brain, today.
Another benefit of reading your work as a whole is that it can help you to sort out, even in outline, where you want the rest of the story to go. I was having a slight problem with ‘Web’ insofar as I knew, broadly, where I wanted the story to end up but the practicalities of getting things from A to Z weren’t entirely clear. Having an opportunity to read it through without interruption gave me a chance to map out a loose plan for the rest of the story; it reminded me of the small details and hints I’d planted in the tale’s foundations – little sparkling shards of story designed to flower into larger things as the book went on – which I’d forgotten about or had lost track of. So, in teeny-tiny handwriting, I now have a Plan for the rest of the story which I will begin as soon as I can. (Handy tip: perhaps make sure to use a different coloured ink for your planning notes in order to distinguish them from your editing notes. I know that in the heat of the moment, inspiration-wise, you don’t always pause to check your tools are present and correct, but it really is a good idea).
So, it’s shaping up to be a busy week; nothing for it but to creak on and get stuck in, I guess. Good luck with whatever’s on your plate today – I hope it goes smoothly, successfully and well.
*speaking of which, did you check out my story ‘Tiger and Turtle‘ which was published on Saturday as part of Flash Flood 2014? Feel free to share it around and/or leave a comment, if the mood strikes you…