Tag Archives: revising

The Itchy and Scratchy Show

There’s a possible TMI warning on this morning’s blog post. If you can’t handle reading (not very graphic) details of a (not very gross) minor medical condition, then I’d recommend you return to munching down your cereal and slurping your coffee, and catch me tomorrow instead.

Are you going? You’d better go now, because I’m about to start.

Seriously. It’s seconds away, now. See you later.

Ticktickticktick... Image: lssacademy.com

Ticktickticktick…
Image: lssacademy.com

Right. Time’s up. I’m jumping in.

Still here? Interesting.

Okay. So, I may not have mentioned before that I have dermatitis on my palms. Sometimes, it doesn’t bother me at all, and my hands are as smooth as the proverbial baby’s behind, and all that; other times, though, like now, it erupts into red hell and itches so badly that it feels like I’ve minced up a few Carolina Reapers and rubbed ’em into my skin. It can take me totally by surprise, too – yesterday evening, my hands were a little itchy, but I thought nothing of it. However, I woke up this morning and I’d turned into a crab-clawed witch, and so, it was out with the steroid cream and in with the self-pity and whimpering. Several years ago it got so bad that I had to take sick leave from the job I was working in at the time because I pretty much couldn’t use my hands for about a week, and that, my friends, was not fun. I am nowhere near as bad as that at the moment, of course, but every time I get a flare-up, I think of it.

I’m not really sure what causes it. I’m told it was originally an allergic reaction (but I don’t know to what), and it seems to flare when I’m stressed. It’s an indicator of stress that I might not even be consciously aware I’m feeling, actually – everything seems okay this morning, but my hands are burning so I can assume something’s going on somewhere inside me. As well as being monumentally irritating, though, it also makes things like typing quite difficult, which is handy (no pun intended) when typing is all you do, all day every day. I feel a bit like fat-fingered Homer.

Image: dailydot.com

Image: dailydot.com

It’s easy to take your health for granted, and to just assume you’ll be well – physically, mentally, spiritually – when you wake up every morning to start your day. Sometimes, though, it’s not as straightforward as that. I’m not even talking about myself, here – I mean that in a general sense. I’m not suggesting a bit of dermatitis is equivalent to a proper medical condition, or anything like it. My hands aren’t painful this morning, really (there have been times when they’ve literally looked like stigmata, bleeding and raw, which is terrible), but the itch is such a distraction that it is making concentration difficult. It’s sort of cruel, because I spent all weekend keeping far, far away from ‘Tider’, and even trying not to think about it; as a result my brain is bubbling with ideas this morning about how to solve the problems I’ve been running into. It’s also bubbling with the urge to tear the skin off my palms, though, so there’s a definite conflict of interest there.

Rawr! I am dermatitis. Feel my sting! Image: en.wikipedia.org

Rawr! I am dermatitis. Feel my sting!
Image: en.wikipedia.org

So, today will mostly be spent feeling itchy and resisting the urge to scratch, and (doing my best attempt at) rewriting the end of ‘Tider’ in accordance with a flash of inspiration that occurred to me as I was going to sleep last night. My new plan for the book’s conclusion solves a huge plot wrinkle that I’d been trying to work around, will be significantly shorter and (hopefully) a lot more interesting.

I’m also a lot more enthusiastic about it this morning than I was on Friday, so that’s good.

Right, that’s it. I can’t resist the temptation to dunk my hands in ice-water any longer, so I’ll leave it there for now. Have a good day. It’s Monday, don’t forget, so please do be kind to yourself. See you tomorrow, when – with any luck – my hands will be healed and calm and not driving me round the bend.

Tider Tuesday

Today, I’m beginning a monumental task. What better day to do it than a Tuesday, yes? Yes.

Today, I am beginning a rewrite of ‘Tider’. I’m sure y’all will remember me talking about this poor, long-neglected novel of mine, which I started last year and thought I’d finished in January of this year. You may also remember the near meltdown that engulfed me in the latter stages of said novel, and you may (or, probably, may not) have been wondering why I’ve been so quiet about it ever since.

Well. The reason is this.

Writing ‘Eldritch’ has given me a huge insight into the kind of writer I want to be. Writing ‘Eldritch’ has shown me that I really truly do love children’s books, and that while I love reading YA books, I’m not terribly good at writing them – at least, not at the moment. In the current version of ‘Tider’, my main character is in her mid-teens, and there’s a love interest, and she’s awkwardly finding out about her feelings for this love interest while simultaneously trying to save her family, and quite possibly the world, from destruction; I realise now that the love interest was superfluous – at least, as far as I’m concerned. The important thing about the story was the character, her family, and her love for them. In short, ‘Tider’ – in its current form – is a children’s book trying to be a YA book.

My original idea for ‘Tider’ involved my main character and her best friend going off on an adventure in an attempt to save the life of the best friend’s father, and unwittingly getting involved in a situation much bigger than either of them could have imagined, which leaves the fate of the world at stake. In the course of the book, the characters would be faced with hard choices, about their families and also about their friendship, and my MC and her own father would be set on a collision course due to his unwillingness to help them in their quest. For some reason, this became a story about a girl rebelling against her father and wanting to find out the truth about her mother, getting involved in a vigilante group and falling in love with one of its ringleaders, who then go on to try to take her father out of business (because his ‘business’ is illegal and immoral and wrong, something the MC gradually comes to see.) You might also remember that ‘Tider’ was far too long – somewhere in the region of 150,000 words, which is lunacy – and the time and effort that would be involved in taking it as it is and editing it down to a manageable size would, I feel, be better spent in ‘simply’ rewriting the book completely.

I’m being very calm about this, all things considered.

I look a bit like this guy, but that's irrelevant. Image: creepypasta.wikia.com

I look a bit like this guy, but that’s irrelevant.
Image: creepypasta.wikia.com

Over the past few days and weeks, the idea for ‘Tider’ Mk. II has been taking shape in my head. I think I have a first page, and a first chapter, and a revised structure – basically, the plot is the same but without some of the more complicated subplots and, of course, the romance element – and, really, all I’m doing is going back to my original plan for the book. In a way, I feel it’s been a long, painful, but necessary process.

I do wish, sort of, that I’d been able to come to this conclusion without all the stress and sweat and panic and hard work, but then, that’s what learning is all about, isn’t it?

Things I have learned from this process:

If you’re struggling – to the point of tears – with a book, then take a step back and reassess it. If it’s not working, it may not be anything you’re doing wrong. It may just be not working.

If you’re panicking about your book, and plot twists or ‘patches’ or ideas are coming to you at a crazy pace, and when you work them into your book and they fix something for a while but cause you bigger problems later on, don’t just leave them there. Go back over what you’ve done, and calmly, rationally unpick it, and see if there’s something better you can do.

If you’re not enjoying the writing – with the caveat that, of course, writing is work, and hard work, and should be challenging – then something may be slightly off-kilter. Again, take some time to think and reassess and, perhaps, take a complete break from what you’re doing for a while.

Do not set yourself minimum word limits every day. Do not force yourself to reach 5,000 words, or 6,000 words, or 7,000 words… every day, just write the amount of words you can write, and be happy with that.

If you’re really not getting anywhere with a project, start something else; come back to the first project when you’re ready.

So. Wish me luck? And, I hope, if you’re having trouble with a piece you’re working on, that you’ll take heart from my struggle and realise nothing is too difficult to overcome.

Right. I’m setting phasers to ‘Write’. See you all tomorrow!

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!