Tag Archives: correction

A Whole Dead Tree

It’s Friday, and I’m exhausted again. I don’t think I’ve fully managed to shed all traces of the heavy cold/chest infection I had last week, and I’m struggling a bit with the old energy levels. I’m beginning to think I’m supposed to be a hibernating creature (possibly also nocturnal); I definitely have a sense of slowness, and of battening down the hatches, as winter draws on. So long as I don’t start growing hair all over my body in the manner of a grizzly bear, I’ll be all right.

But, in a break from tradition, I’m not going to go on (and on and on) about my tiredness today. I am tired, but it’s all good. I can cope with the tiredness because yesterday, my print-out of my WiP was delivered to me. It’s sitting here, in all its papery glory, on my desk. It’s just waiting for me to dive into it, crying out for the ink of my red pen. But – it’s huge. I shudder to think how many trees gave their lives so that I could edit in comfort.

Ah! There's Chapter Three finished. Now, where did I put Chapter Four?

Ah! There’s Chapter Three finished. Now, where did I put Chapter Four?

I realised, looking at it, that I’ve basically done three NaNoWriMo books, all in a row. My WiP is about 150,000 words, and it took me about three months to finish it. So, it’s no wonder I’m tired! (This is my last mention of tiredness, I swear).

As always happens when I can’t access my WiP (which has been the case for the last week or so), I’ve spent most of my waking moments remembering things I want to change, or silly mistakes I’ve made. My phone is stuffed full of notes to myself along the lines of ‘You big eejit! Why didn’t you mention this very important, nay vital, plot point on page 130? Make sure to fix that!’, and similar. Hopefully, I’ll enjoy the final edit – though even the concept of ‘the final edit’ makes me jittery – and I’ll get through the work quickly. I used to spend weeks at a time marking up written work, mercilessly hunting down and destroying every last error, so I’m sure I’ll be able to handle a huge pile of my own work. Darnit, I’ve written a dissertation that was (marginally) longer than this document – I know I can do this. I’m sure – to make poor use of a quote from my favourite TV chef, Michel Roux Jr. – that my book is not ‘error free’, but hopefully it will be just that in about a week or so. Or, at least, as close to error free as I can get it.

And then – what next? Well, I already have the seeds of a sequel to the WiP brewing away in my old brain-pan. And there’s the small matter of all those long-cherished ideas that I’ve had stored on my trusty old computer for many a long year, which might (hopefully!) get to live and breathe, if I can get a chance to write them. Some of those ideas are the ones included in my ‘Snippets’ pages, and some of them are shouting louder than the others, so hopefully I’ll get to them in order of importance. I hope in January I can put up a ‘Works in Progress’ page on the blog, to give you some idea of the projects I’m working on and get some feedback. But, until then, if you want me you’ll have to holler loudly – I can’t hear you through all this paper!

Speak up!

Speak up!

The World Keeps Turning

It seems almost unfair, after the excitement of the last two days, that things really have to return to normal now. It’s not like I’ve spent the last two days in front of the TV with my Stars-and-Stripes beer hat on, watching the live count, or anything like that. In reality, life has been pretty much as expected for me. The thrilling suspense of waiting for the election result, and then the sheer exuberant joy of yesterday, did add a little sparkle to proceedings, though – you need that sort of celebration, once in a while.

Oh well. The President is back in his White House, wrestling with his opponents, and I’m here, wrestling with my WiP. So, I guess all’s as it should be. ‘God’s in his heaven, all’s right with the world’, and all that stuff.

Yes – I’m still here, working away on my ever-increasing novel. I say ‘ever-increasing’, because every day that goes by sees my word count going up; I was hoping I’d be making the work into a leaner, trimmer beast at this stage, but it refuses to cooperate. I likened the writing process the other day to hanging wallpaper, and not just because they both involve hard and messy work – it goes deeper than that. In essence, when you’ve hung your strip of wallpaper, you’re faced with a wall which looks okay – the paper is hung, the pattern is there, and it seems solid enough. Then you stand back and you see it – the dreaded bubble! Out comes the scraper, and you gently push the air bubble away, thinking all the while how clever you are and how effectively you’ve removed the problem. But of course all you’ve done is move the air pocket somewhere else, and it pops up again at random.

And so on, and so on.

This is how it’s been for the last while – I’m essentially doing a major rewrite, and not an editing job. Every time I fix one problem, another pops up somewhere else in the text, and as I rewrite, there are more and more things that need to be changed. So, really, it’s no surprise that the word count is growing. Yesterday, I wrote nearly 6,000 words, but I deleted about 3,000; I’m looking upon this as a positive, because a lot of this beast deserves nothing better than to be deleted forever. As I mentioned here on the blog in recent days, I’m overhauling my protagonist – I’m not changing her, just giving her more opportunities to show what she can do. Already, she’s gone from being a meek hand-wringing dutiful daughter who stands around waiting for someone to tell her what to do, to someone who breaks out of home in the middle of the night, gets lost in a rough part of town while looking for a boy, and fights off a bunch of attackers. Essentially, she’s gone from being a portrayal of me as I was at her age, to a portrayal of the kind of girl I wished I’d been at her age. That’s got to be a good thing. I was a very boring teenager.

But my first draft wasn’t a total waste of time – I have to keep telling myself this. It’s deeply flawed, and several characters are not what I wanted them to be, but I had to go through the process of writing it in order to be where I am now. I know that Draft 2 is still not exactly right, but it’s a whole lot closer to being what I want to produce than Draft 1 was. I had to work through the story and get it ‘finished’ – after a fashion – in order to have the ability to go back to it and assess it as a whole; even now, I’m restraining myself from going back to the beginning of Draft 2 and starting to rework it! I have to remind myself to just keep going, finish the thing, and look at it as a complete piece of work before starting to correct it again.

My plan is to have Draft 2 done by the end of November – I’m currently just under halfway through it, so I hope I’ll manage that. Then, I’m going to make a print-out of the whole thing, and go through it again with my trusty red pen. I think I’ll be better able to cross out whole paragraphs of dross with a pen in my hand, rather than doing it on-screen; somehow, deleting your own words on a screen seems so much harder, I think. It makes it too personal, or something. With a hard copy of the book and a red pen, I can call up my old tutor-persona, and my grammar, punctuation, spelling, structure and clarity sensors can automatically switch on; I can pretend I’m marking a very long essay which doesn’t belong to me at all, and get through it ruthlessly. Fingers crossed.

And you know, sometimes it can get hard to remember to switch your brain off, from time to time. I’m doing my best to remain calm about this whole thing, despite the fact that I have a deadline of January 2013 looming in my brain. Something which really helps me remain calm, and remember to keep my happy side out, is the fact that I have such a great husband. This morning, before he left for work, we danced together in the kitchen for a few minutes, just because we could. How could a person have a bad day when it begins with a moment like that? If I find myself getting too entangled in this book, and starting to get stressed over it, all I have to do is remember that lots of people are rooting for me, and I can do this.

And if I can do it, so can you.