Tag Archives: busy

Approaching the Event Horizon

April is nearly over. May is nearly here. That means a few things, of course, not all of them scary and new; it means there’s likely to be more of this sort of thing, which is good:

Image: paleohappy.com

Image: paleohappy.com

And people will, more than likely, start to wear stuff like this (even though, in Ireland, just because the sun’s out doesn’t actually mean it’s warm, but we’re eternally optimistic – a sort of ‘if you wear it, summer will come’ thing):

Image: lukitaslittleworld.blogspot.com

Image: lukitaslittleworld.blogspot.com

Sadly, it also means a lot of people will be going around looking like they’ve been dipped in boiling oil, too, because – while the sun’s not particularly strong here, unless things are exceptionally warm – the Irish pelt just isn’t equipped to cope with anything much beyond a vaguely bright afternoon.

But, on a personal level, the approach of May means a few different things.

Firstly, it’s going to be a busy month for me. As well as attending two conferences (at one of which I’ve been given the opportunity to pitch my book to an agent), I am also going to be giving a reading at a book festival. On top of all that, I’ve decided that now would be a good time to branch out into a new business venture. It’s official. I’ve ordered business cards, and everything.

What’s that silence? Oh, don’t worry. It’s just my quietly controlled panic.

Secondly, it’s a month full of new stuff. I’ve never given a reading before, for instance – the very idea of it seems slightly ridiculous, as if someone, somewhere, has made a terrible mistake and is expecting Sinéad O’Connor instead of me, or something.

FYI: not me. Image: thetimes.co.uk

FYI: not me.
Image: thetimes.co.uk

Actually, there’s an idea. Perhaps if I pretend I am Sinéad O’Connor, it might make the whole thing easier – and more enjoyable for the audience. I’m sure I could belt out a few verses of ‘Mandinka’ before being manhandled off the stage.

The next challenge is to write and memorise a ten-minute pitch for my book. Delivering this in front of a mirror, or my mother, will be scary enough. Delivering it in front of a top-notch literary agent, however – that’s a whole new level of terror. What if I forget how to talk? Maybe my mind will become a field of pristine snow, unblemished even by the tiny pock-marks of foraging birds. Perhaps my teeth will chatter so hard that everything I say will come out all chopped up, like baby food.

Maybe I’d be better off printing the whole thing out on laminated paper and giving it to the agent to read. You know, in her own time.

Image: emeryruth.com

Image: emeryruth.com

Yeah. Or maybe not.

The second conference I’m attending is less nerve-wracking, mainly because I don’t have to do anything, per se; I just have to be outgoing and friendly and approachable and all that other stuff that sounds easy (and which, in truth, I’m good at, once I stop tripping myself up). When I’m surrounded by people I consider important, though – in the sense of ‘oh my God look it’s a famous published author I must scuttle out of her way forthwith’ – I find it difficult to be my happy-go-lucky self. I think I need to take a large dose of ‘Get On With It’ before I enter the room, and go in wearing my widest, brightest smile.

Easier said than done.

And finally, the business venture. Well, calling it that probably lends it an air of importance that it doesn’t really deserve; it’s not like I’m going to be appearing on ‘Dragons’ Den’ looking for funding for my ingenious invention, or anything like that. If you’d like to find out more about it, there’s a website over here – you can even sign up to follow it, if you like – and there’s a Twitter feed over at @YellowRoadEdit. It’s extremely early days yet, but maybe – with a bit of luck – I’ll be able to use my talent for words to help those who don’t find it easy to pick just the right phrase to express what they mean, or who aren’t as clear on the rules of apostrophe usage as I am.

Or who aren’t as pernickety about the rules of apostrophe usage as I am, maybe.

So, I have a lot going on. By the end of this month I’ll have neither fingernails nor a strand of hair left, and I’ll probably be living in a vat of caffeine. If you have any good wishes knocking about that you’re not using for anything else, it’d be brilliant if you could send ’em my way.

Welcome to a shiny new week, everyone. May it be fabulous for one and all.

Image: hellogiggles.com

Image: hellogiggles.com



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.