Tuesday 12th August
As usual, most of Tuesday morning is taken up with knocking this journal into shape and turning it into a reasonably coherent blog post. I must admit, I spent rather too long on Facebook and Twitter today, reading about the wonderful Robin Williams who, it seems, has taken his own life. Even though we didn’t know him, something about that man seemed to reach out to us all. He was proof that depression can hit anyone, no matter how much talent, fame, money, intelligence, luck, love, or adoration they have. I hate it when people say ‘what has he/she got to be depressed about?’ It’s a stupid question; depression is an illness, and it can be fatal. Anyway, I don’t usually use the blog for this sort of thing, but I feel quite sad. So, blog post, Facebook/Twitter, helped a friend who’s moving, and did some admin. Time spent on the novel: 0
Wed 13th August
Started rewriting a scene that is now set a couple of years later than originally intended. As my character is an adolescent at this point, this means a subtle change in her voice. Quite tricky to get right, but important to address because a 10-year-old and a 12-year-old will have different perspectives. Phone call from my accountant with some queries. I’m almost as afraid of numbers as I am of technology, and tax affairs are a mystery, so having an accountant is essential. Anyway, after some rummaging in the files, I think I’ve got it sorted. Back to the novel for a couple of hours, then off to perform Granny duties. Evening drink with a fellow writer, and while I can’t possibly count that as ‘time spent on the novel‘, we did talk quite a bit about our novels, and about writing in general. Time spent: 2.5 hours
Thurs 14th August
Spent another two hours on the scene I started rewriting yesterday, only to realise that it’s not relevant. This is SO annoying! Partly because I’ve put in so much work and partly because there’s some good writing in there. But the bare fact is, it’s got to go. If in doubt about a scene, ask yourself: ‘what is this scene achieving in the novel? It is advancing the plot? Telling us something we need to know about the characters? Deepening our sense of the period or location? Ideally, a scene should do two or more of these things, must it must do at least one.I followed my own advice and asked myself what the scene I’d been struggling with was actually achieving. The truthful answer was, none of the above. It was filling, padding; there merely to allow time to pass. So it’s gone.
Worked for a while on a new scene this morning, then off to London for a meeting with my lovely editor. This meeting was arranged when I was in dire straits – horribly stuck and with no idea of how to move on. I’ve since managed to move on from my stuck phase, but there are still ‘issues’ so I knew it would be helpful to talk things through. Some people don’t like discussing work in progress, but I usually find it incredibly useful, (especially when talking with an experienced editor!) It helps to get a different perspective, to think aloud and bounce ideas off the other person. Came away feeling that I know where I’m going with it, if not entirely sure just yet about exactly how it’s going to work. Sometimes, you just need to suck it and see! Time spent: (some at home, some while on the train) four hours
Friday 15th August
‘Bitty’ day – medical appointments, household stuff etc so didn’t achieve very much. Had a good long chat with a writer friend, though, and that’s always useful. Apart from that, I just tweaked and twiddled rather ineffectively. Rubbish day, so I tidied my desk. Time spent (not including desk tidying) 1.5 hours
|No exciting pictures this week, so here’s my workspace…
Saturday 16th August
Intended to settle down for a full day of work today, but the dog’s been throwing up all night so had to take him to the vet. It was lunchtime before I got back, and, having had a couple of days away from my desk, it’s even harder to get settled today. I think it’s beginning to hit me just how much work I have to do on this novel before I can even look at it as an overall shape. I’ve been keeping a list of scenes as I go along – some are roughly drafted, some have been edited, and some are not yet written. I find this useful because it allows me to see the bigger picture. But looking at that list now, it occurs to me that, not only do I have several scenes that are completely irrelevant, but there are quite a few more scenes that I need to write. Started one of those this afternoon, so at least I’m making some progress. Time spent: 2.5 hours
Sunday 17th August
I’ve worked some more on the scene I started yesterday, and I’ve been thinking about the structure. It seems I might need to get rid of yet another large chunk (you may remember, I cut over 11,000 words in week five – I’d made quite a few cuts before, but this was the largest chunk in one go). I suspect more will have to go, but I’m trying to force myself to leave it as it is for now and just keep moving forward, rewriting existing scenes and adding new scenes where I need to. It’s difficult, though, because I know that those sections don’t seem to be working. On the other hand, I’m right in the middle of this draft and very close to it, so it’s difficult to be objective. Also, I’m still making decisions about what I need to show and what can just be referred back to. If I do make these cuts now, might it throw me off course and leave me floundering? I think I’m going to try and just grit my teeth and keep moving forward, safe in the knowledge that it can all be chopped out later if necessary. Ooh, it’s difficult…. Time spent: 4.5 hours
Monday 18th August
Feeling a bit overwhelmed by the sheer amount of work I have to do. Kept looking at the scene I started on Saturday, and realised it has far too much exposition and not enough action or movement. Having made several attempts to do work out what to do with it, I gave up and did admin that I’ve been putting off. Also, I printed out a list of brief scene summaries, cut them out, stuck them on to post-it notes, and then stuck those onto a piece of card so that move them around if I need to. This may or may not be useful, but it made me feel as though I was doing something. On the other hand, it may just be that I find ‘cutting out and sticking’ a soothing thing to do. (Ahh, fond memories of Blue Peter…) Time spent: about four hours.
Oh dear. After doing so well last week, and setting myself a slightly more ambitious target for this week, I have only managed 19 hours. Ah well, onwards and upwards!
Nice things this week:
Three reader emails, one about The Things We Never Said, and two about The Secrets We Left Behind. Two of those emails were from the same person – she emailed me after finishing The Things We Never Said, then emailed me again the following evening to say that she’d read The Secrets We Left Behind in one sitting! Was hugely chuffed.
The coming week:
I’m going to set a modest target for the coming week, and you’ll have to believe me that this is not a cop-out because it’s been a bad week! It’s just that my son is up from London for a few days, and so I’m going to enjoy spending some time with him. (And probably bending his ear about my novel!)
New Amazon reviews:
The Secrets We Left Behind: Two new ones – both 5-star
The Things We Never Said: Three new ones – two 5-star, one 4-star
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