For quite a while now, I’ve been blogging about my experience of writing my third novel. It started as a series of ten posts, partly so I could chart my own progress but also because I thought it would be interesting for other writers to follow the ups and downs of the writing process. At first, I posted every week, then it drifted into every two weeks with a break after I submitted my first draft, which turned out to be around 75% crap! I dusted myself down, salvaged the little that was worth salvaging – the heart of the story – and started again.

Now, I find myself nearing the end of the current draft, which I’ve decided to call draft 1B, on account of the fact that although it’s technically a second draft, it’s so very different from what I originally submitted, it almost counts as a first draft. My deadline is the end of August, which is five weeks away. This will be a period of quite intense activity so I’ve decided to post every week until I submit this draft. 
This week, I’ve worked on the novel every day except Friday, when I was travelling back from a short break and catching up with emails etc. We had a lovely three day break in Haworth, West Yorkshire, where the Brontë sisters grew up and wrote their wonderful novels. It’s a great place to visit, and a great place to write. Here’s a rather windswept me up on the moors, communing with Emily and trying to breathe in some inspiration.

So, in awe of what the Brontës managed to achieve – without the luxury of cut and paste – I returned gratefully to my computer, ready for some seriously long working days over the next five weeks. Here is where I’m up to at the moment:
I see that in last week’s post, I was up to 82,000 words and I had three, possibly four chapters still to write. Today, my word count is 86,455 and I’ve written two new chapters. and yet somehow, I still seem to have two, possibly three chapters to write! I also need a short epilogue, though I don’t know what that’ll contain yet, and I probably won’t until I’ve read the whole novel through again.
One of the (many) problems I’ve had with this novel is the different viewpoints and timeframes – there aren’t a lot of them, but it’s a complicated mix. I have one character who we see in the present, the recent past, and the distant past. This can get confusing, so I’ve decided to put the present day sections in the present tense as a way of making it clearer for the reader. Going through all those sections right from the start is a fairly boring, technical job, but I need to get that out of the way before I start a serious edit.
After that, I think I’m going to read the novel through before attempting those last couple of chapters. I’ll print it out and make lots of notes on the MS as well as a list of things to be done, chapter by chapter. I’m hoping that inspiration for the final chapters will come during that process. 
My goal for this time next week is to made the tense changes and to have at least begun reading through from the start and making notes. I’ve started what I think will be the penultimate chapter, but I’m a bit stuck at the moment. l’ll keep going back to it over the next few days, but I’m not going to make that my focus just yet.
Let’s see how I get on!
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  1. JO says:

    I've no idea how helpful you find it, writing this blog. But I find it so reassuring that someone else feels like she's struggling for weeks and weeks and weeks – and still keeps going. Not long now till the end of this draft!! I hope you have a reward lined up.

  2. Susan Elliot Wright says:

    Thank you, Jo. I find it quite helpful to chart progress in this way (less helpful, of course, to be reminded of the lack of it at some points!) But what is really reassuring is comments like yours from other writers who struggle. I know some lucky authors find it much easier than others, and that is wonderful for them, but hearing about it can make the rest of us feel woefully inadequate! yes, I will definitely have a reward lined up, even though I know there will be loads more work to do. Thank you again for your comments.

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