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Sunday, 19 September 2010

Not Waving But Drowning

Whew - I'm finally breaking the surface for an evening from the OCEAN of edits I have been wading/swimming/drowning in for the past two weeks.

Procrastination? Who's got TIME?? Especially when you have EIGHTY pages of edits!! and a DEADline!

I even had to miss the amazing Keren David's launch for the Almost True (which I am just finishing reading - incredible - the story is so fast-paced and gripping, and the main character is just so real, his voice is so true that I'd find it hard to believe she wasn't actually a teenage boy, if I didn't know her already. And her writing - her characterisations and ways of expressing thoughts and feelings through actions inspires me to be a better writer. And also makes me incredibly jealous.)

On the plus side - and it's an AWFULLY BIG plus!! - I have finally received that most-longed-for, dreamed about, aspired to, precious thing - a CONTRACT for my first novel!!!


I still can't quite believe it - I have to keep pinching myself.

And actually, it's not just my first novel - it's for two!!! How incredible is that?

And more than a little bit scary - especially now I've seen the contract and the deadline for the first three chapters and detailed synopsis of the second are currently due on December 15th (which seems awfully close when I've got 80 pages of edit and 3 fairy-tales to write by Dec 1st) - but I don't know what that's going to be!! HELP!!
(Sorry for all the capitals - I'm over-excited, it's the first typing I've done that's not editing for days)

However my amazing agent and fairy godmother Jenny is hopefully working her magic and conjuring up a little more time for that - or perhaps choosing a story!

For now, the edits are the priority - in all their varied glory:

a) First there are the line edits - change this reference, cut this word, alter that sentence. Easy, straight-forward, quick.

b) Then there're the slightly more chunky ones - take out this character, this scene, add this back-story. A bit more tricky - how do you add all this information whist retaining the flow and the pace of the story? How do you cut one thing without pulling at threads throughout the entire novel...?

c) Then there are much bigger changes - add in a whole plotline, weaving it into the story and make it make sense with everything that already happens and look how everything afterwards is also impacted. Hmm - a biggy.

d) Then there are sort of vague, potentially volatile changes - strengthen this character, strengthen this relationship. Strengthen a character? A relationship? Look at every scene they're in and change their behaviour, their actions - this is one I'm really worried about as it could have big repurcussions and requires a lot of thought.

e) Then, finally, when all that is finally (hopefully!) done, come the fine-toothed comb edits - read through the entire manuscript, looking at any repetition of phrase or idea, picking at any sentence that could be better-expressed, any adjective that isn't pulling its weight, really concentrating on making this book the best it can possibly be.

f)After all this, the manuscript is bound to have grown (mine's grown 3,000 words in two weeks) so then you have to go through again cutting, pruning and adjusting any extraneous word (My agent and I cut 40,000 words before we even approached any publishers!).

And then, finally, (hopefully by the deadline!) I'll heave a big sigh of relief and send it off back to the editors.

Who will then send back the next batch of edits :)

Thursday, 9 September 2010

Summertime is Over

This is it! No more excuses!

No more holidays abroad

No more weddings to plan/decorate/attend

No more house-guests descending from foreign shores

It has been one true jam-packed roller-coaster of a summer but Summertime is well and truly over (literally - my 2-year-old niece Summer who's been staying this week has now gone, leaving the house judgementally peaceful)

And I have a DEADLINE which is scaring me silly and has me glued well-meaningly to my laptop - doing anything but writing! Research is work, right? Emailing agents and research people is definitely work. As is looking up SCBWI upcoming events and other writer's facebook posts - and tweeting and blogging - these are all essential writerly tasks -

But funnily enough this is not getting my edits done.

WHY is it that when you're immersed in creative zeal things always come along to drag you away (like six weeks of holidays, family and weddings - what a drag! :)).

Or that that really great idea for the next book or for improvements to the one you're meant to be editing ALWAYS without fail hit JUST as you're drifting off to sleep, and keep you awake for the next two or three hours as your head spins with ideas and details you HAVE to write down before sleep obliterates them forever?

The same reason, I suppose, that in the evening when you're wide awake you don't want to go to bed and then when your alarm goes off in the  morning you don't want to get up. You KNOW that getting an early night will make it easier in the morning, but perversely I do not listen to this sensible little voice in my head, but instead read another chapter of a good book/watch another episode of Gilmore Girls/IM/surf the web - anything but go to bed. 

The same reason that it's so EASY to stop going to the gym or dieting after you lapse just once.

The same reason that when I'm meant to be working on novels I am inspired to write picture books - or vice versa.

Sod's law? Probably.

Stupidity? Almost definitely.

Will-power? Of course.

But more than anything it's that famed adversary of all (ok, most) writers.


I tell myself this is no adversary at all, that chance would be a fine thing - that I'm far too BUSY to procrastinate, even if I wanted to. I've had an extremely busy, crowded, noisy summer.

And now?

There's no point starting now - it's late, I'm tired - much better to start tomorrow.

Tomorrow I will get stuck in.

Tomorrow I'll get up bright and early and do a full, long, productive day.

Tomorrow is another day - I'll get an early night and start refreshed!

So of course here I am writing my blog :)

Disclaimer: Please note, if any of my agents or editors are reading this please remember that I am a writer of fiction and all the above is purely fictional and not based on any person or persons living or dead - especially me - as I am a diligent, conscientious, and hard-working writer who would never ever be caught procrastinating. Ever.

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