I was feeling a bit fed up the other day and absentmindedly picked these a few bits and pieces (some are weeds, I think!) from my teeny garden. Just looking at their prettiness cheers me up enormously.

Things are generally going much better with the novel now, and I’m up to 82,000 words of the new draft, and there are probably another 8,000-10,000 to write. Technically it’s a second draft, but if I’m honest, the rewriting has been so extensive that it’s more like a first draft. In fact, I worked out the other day that there are only about 15,000 words of the original version remaining, if that. Maybe we’ll call this one “Draft 1B”.

I’m struggling to get back into it at the moment having had an enforced few days away from my desk. One of the reasons for this was that I decided to change my workstation arrangement to make it easier for me to stand for part of the time while I’m working. I’ve read a great deal about ‘standing desks’ and thought I’d give it a go in an attempt to reduce my back pain.I wanted to set things up so I had the option to stand or sit. Re-arranging the monitors and keyboard meant unplugging and moving things around, so I thought this would be a good opportunity to sort out the electrics, which up until now have been a horribly jumbled mess of cables and extension leads.

So I arranged a couple of quotes, and now have proper office-type trunking and sockets along the wall at desk height. It looks much neater and tidier, and I can stand and type using the big monitor, or I can sit down, lower the keyboard and use the smaller screen. So far so good!

All this means I’ve lost some work time though, because apart from all the time spent disconnecting things, clearing space for the electrician, then rearranging everything and plugging it all in again, it seems my headset took exception to being unplugged and has decided to give up the ghost. As regular readers will know, I have severe RSI in both hands/arms, and if I type or am using the mouse for more than twenty or thirty minutes I suffer debilitating pain. Fortunately, I have a spare USB mike but then that decided to play silly buggers, too, so I had to wait until my son, who’s a technical whizz and without whom I would be tearing my hair out, had time to dial in to my computer and sort it out for me. He’s done that today – thank you James!

I’m writing this at 4.30 in the afternoon, so technically I could still get a couple of hours in on the novel, but you know what it’s like when you’ve slipped out of the ‘zone’. Instead of knuckling down, I’ve been faffing about, tidying my study and leafing through old notebooks. Interestingly, I found quite a few notes I made for the current novel that I’d completely forgotten about. Only scraps – a little bit of back story, perhaps, a character or location detail. These aren’t important plot points, but things that will hopefully add depth and texture.

To make sure I don’t forget about them again, I’ve copied them onto little pieces of card or scraps of paper and tossed them into a shoebox along with notes I’ve made more recently. When I embark on the Big Edit before submitting this draft, I’ll go through those scraps, discarding what’s no longer relevant, and working in the things I think will enrich the story. After my first novel was published, and to a lesser degree, after the second one, too, I kept coming across similar notes and thinking, ‘Ooh, that’ll be good for…’ And then I’d remember that it was too late!

So, it’s not been a complete waste of a day, and I’m looking forward to immersing myself in the novel again tomorrow. I have three, possibly four more chapters to write, then an extensive edit. Now the end is in sight (well, not the actual end, but you know what I mean) I’m really excited about getting those chapters drafted. One of the things I’m enjoying is changing the label on the Scrivener corkboard from ‘to do’ to ‘first draft’. I suppose I could just make a list and cross them off, which would undoubtedly be satisfying, but not quite as satisfying as this.

I plan to post it again in two weeks, by which time I hope to be working on the final chapter. Wish me luck!

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  1. JO says:

    I hope all this rearranging feeds inspiration in the novel. I usually find that such reorganising translates as general faffing and is often unproductive – but you have good reasons for making all these changes, so hopefully it will be the kick up the wotnot that you need.

  2. Susan Elliot Wright says:

    You're absolutely right – it's amazing how much time you can waste rearranging the height of books on your bookshelves! But yes, I think this was definitely worth doing – I've been trying to stand for part of the day for a few weeks and it definitely helps my back.

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