Sunday, September 26, 2004

The Polish Builders' Fan Club

Word count: 23,943

Hmmm. Have just sat up watching the BBC’s Dirty War drama. God knows why I did that, I won’t sleep. It took me about 15 years to get over all those nuclear war movies s in the 80s. It is worrying, though.

Have had rather more immediate dirty preoccupations this weekend. Blocked drains. I live in a basement flat which means I get everyone else’s sewage on my patio if there’s a blockage. And that’s what happened this week. Long story, but a lovely Polish bloke came round and managed to fix it with drain rods… though another drains 'expert' with a £200-a-time machine failed (mind you, he was very nice and didn't charge me - I was near hysterical by the time he'd shaken his head lots of times because a) I had gubbins all over my flagstones and b) I was going to be charged a fortune for the privilege). I don’t want to know what the blockage was…

Um, what else? Well, it’s proof-reading time with Book 2. It’s come through in book form, looking very jolly and professional. Have found a few repetitions though so am hoping my publishers won’t get the hump too much with my suggested minor deletions. That has slightly taken me off the case with Book 3 but will be back motoring forward this week, drains permitting…

Saturday, September 18, 2004

Perfect weather for writing

Word count: 21,298

It’s proper September grey out there this afternoon, with what weathermen call ‘squally showers’ – the kind that appear and disappear with a kind of general irritation.

But I am rather pleased with the weather, because it means there’s no excuse for going outside, sitting in the garden, mowing the lawn, cleaning the car (yes, that is honestly on my to do list because a) my road has lots of trees on it so it takes about two days for the car to get coated in bird-shit and icky-sticky tree sap and b) since the little bugger in my road broke off my mirror I can’t go in the car wash).

Autumn/Winter are the best times for writing, I think. It’s the author’s equivalent of hibernation…

As a result of the untempting outside world, I have managed a good three hours of writing. I’ve switched off all the lights so only my laptop and a candle are drawing my eye. It would be quite garret-like, if it wasn’t for 6 Music playing through my telly. Though Mark Riley is talking a bit too much for my liking so I might have to play my Keane album again soon (according to their website, Tom has a poorly sore throat, so get well soon, Tom, whoever you are. I never bother to learn the names of band members, well, not since The Police anyway).

It’s quite a good job I have been writing a lot today as this week has been pretty useless, novel-wise. I blame work. We’re coming up to a fairly major deadline next week when we pitch all our programme ideas to the BBC channel controllers. So we have to finish all our proposals and ‘pitches’ and little edited tapes showing what the programmes will be like if they commission them. It’s all quite high tension… and the natural response to a day of creative thinking is to go home, drink red wine and veg out.

Mind you, it hasn’t all been like that this week. I did go to meet Chris Manby, who is one of those people who is incredibly glamorous, screamingly funny and extremely generous as well. So that was nice. I also got to go to the Groucho Club which makes me feel cool.

Also went with my author buddy Stephanie to her writers’ group… they are such a talented bunch of people and are going to let me join in their critique sessions which is brilliant news. I got so much out of it. Read out some of Book 3 and they gave very constructive criticism.

It’s weird at the moment, writing. For me, there’s a real difference between writing BEFORE you are published/find an agent, and afterwards. Of course, it’s a strange, lonely, obsessive occupation either way, and before you’re published, you are wracked with self-doubt about whether there’s any point, whether you’re writing gibberish, whether you should be doing something far more useful like watching Big Brother etc…

Then (after the rejection nightmares, which I’ve written about on my website) comes the breakthrough. You are agented and/or published. Someone believes in your work. It’s fantastic. You may or may not get reviewed/into the charts/pursued down the frozen food aisle of Tesco to sign a book.

But then you have to write the next book. And the next one. Approximately one a year. And then you have new stuff to fret about. Is my current work-in-progress better or worse than the last novel? Will it be what ‘my’ readers (not that I had all THAT many) expect or want?

And of course, other important people have an opinion. Agents/editors plus mates etc. Now, this is good in general, but it does add another dimension of anxiety. I have never been someone who is short of ideas so currently Book 3 could be one of about three possibilities for a novel. I have chosen one idea for now – the one I’ve managed 21,000 words of – but have no idea if it’s the right one. On a ‘chick lit’ scale of one to a hundred (where one is dark, meaningful, incisive, bitter, contemporary chick lit, and a hundred is happy-ever-after, light-as-a-feather, fiction so fluffy it would cause an asthma attack), I’d describe my first novel as maybe somewhere around 52 and the second, closer to 65. My current w-i-p for book 3 is perhaps 67.4 but my other favourite, under-developed idea is nearer 60.

Um, am not sure I am making any more sense. But at least you will hopefully realise that far from the image of a ‘chick lit’ author sitting around in jim-jams painting her nails and plucking her eyebrows before dashing off 30 chapters in the commercial breaks of Nip/Tuck, some of us are just as tortured as literary writers.

Right, back to work. Though my eyebrows are looking a little bushy.
Next time: edit or be damned.

Sunday, September 12, 2004

Hot laps and hurricanes

Book 3 word-count: 18,204 (helped by recycling a whole lot of stuff from implausible first attempt)

Have decided that I can't keep on naming my blog entries after days of the week because a) it's highly unoriginal and b) it will get confusing.

So my current preoccupations are rising temperatures in my laptop and the world in general. If I am honest, the laptop question is more of an urgent concern at present - I am that shallow. It has become increasingly hot over the last couple of months and I haven't even been writing anything especially smutty. Am worried it might blow up.

As for global warming: the situation in Jamaica is grim and it follows extreme weather here in the UK, including terrible flash floods in the Cornish town of Boscastle. I must admit that apart from taking my empty wine bottles to be recycled, using the odd low-energy lightbulb and living close enough to work to walk in (cos I hate the Tube), I haven't paid that much attention to global warming, but now I am starting to wonder where the world is headed. To the moon, according to this guy.

Apart from that - am now on broadband, yippee (for someone who spends their life on the net this is long overdue). My first pleasure was watching the terrific 'This land is mine' film - I am sure I am the last person in the world to catch up... but it's very funny. Less so on dial-up though, I suspect.

Writing tips site of the day: writewords - a UK based community and info siteyou don't have to join up to read some of the articles and forums. Definitely worth a look.

Now time to ready the News of the World which quotes a source close to Posh Spice saying she now thinks she married a "vain, arrogant yob" - you do have to wonder why it's taken her so long to cotton on...

Friday, September 10, 2004

That Friday Feeling...

Looks like Autumn might kick in this weekend, after the tiny little bit of Indian Summer we've been having... there's even that smell in the air of ripeness and rotting (oh dear, that's threatening to get slightly poetic, so I have to stop there).

Am in an irritated, niggly mood at all sorts of things:
  • at the bastard who decided to break off my car wing mirror - I know it couldn't have been a car cos it was on the side next to the kerb. Sometimes I hate London.
  • at the way supermarket shopping is generally annoying. I spent about 15 minutes walking around Sainsbury's looking for clingfilm. And then there's all the hassle in that last 20 seconds when you get handed back your card and receipt and are also finishing the packing and trying to move your shopping into the trolley, while the next customer wants to get going too. Oh and grannies huddled around the apple aisle.
  • Parcelforce. Why make it so bloody hard to get a parcel delivered?

I am turning into Victor Meldrew. But I am less annoyed than some writers I know about the Richard and Judy Novel Writing competition - I was published as a result of a competition myself so I don't think it's necessarily trivialising writing, as I know some people feel. If you're not published - have a go!

Today - after my Sainsbury's moment, my row with Parcelforce and lunch with my friend Jenny, I am going to get down to doing some writing for book 3. Honest.

Oh and my other news is that my new book, The Starter Marriage, is going to have lovely bronze lettering on it. According to my lovely editor, it costs more but they think it'll make it look all gorgeous on the shelf. Can't wait to see it...

Monday, September 06, 2004

Monday at work and doing authorly things

People imagine that becoming an author involves giving up the day job... not necessarily!

Today I juggled both. My day job involves thinking up new programme ideas for the BBC Documentaries and Contemporary Factual Department. I work with a fab and groovy set of highly creative people... hello Emma and Mark and Lucy and Rosy and Lillie and Arianne and Rob and Edward... (OK enough, already)

At lunchtime I sneaked off for a quick meeting with the sales reps for Orion at the Berner's Hotel off Oxford Street. I love doing authorly things like this. Everyone was very supportive and kind, laughing at all my non-existent jokes. I also met some of the other authors who will be published around the same time as me in 2005: Tilly Bagshawe (sister of the legendary Louise Bagshawe) who was very glam and very funny too: Kirsty Crawford who used to be an editor at Orion and whose first novel, Other Women, sounds terrific: and Sophia McDougall who is 23 and has written a trilogy about what would have happened had the Roman Empire never fallen. I was awestruck at the level of imagination that must have taken...

Incidentally, if you're after a great resource to get you writing a novel, try here. I know it's a link to a Harlequin/Mills & Boon site but it has so much terrific information about writing that you should look there even if you have no intention of writing romantic fiction.

Oh, and tonight I have emailed off my new synopsis for Book 3. Wish me luck.

Sunday, September 05, 2004

Sunday, Sunday... meet The Procrastinator

Hello and welcome to my blog!

Oh, brilliant... another great way to waste time while I should be writing my third novel. For this I am indebted to Abigail Bosanko, whose blog I read this weekend. I am fascinated by how other writers work and thought I would add my musings and chatterings to the WWW.

I've already got a website, but somehow this blogging thing has passed me by and it's really about time I caught up. Plus I saw all sorts of fab opportunities to waste time.

What else can I tell you? Well, my little sister is currently being braver than me and is going around the world - starting in South America! Hello, Toni. You can check out her diary here - she's a massive fan of Everton football club. Well, I guess someone had to be.

What I should be doing right now is working on the synopsis for Book 3. Which is kind of what I am doing simultaneously. I am sitting on the sofa next to my boyfriend who is reading a book called Change Your Life in 7 Days... read into that what you will.

Right, better actually do some work now.
Kate xx