Thursday, December 30, 2004

Period detail, 1970s style

Word Count: 82,241

Bit more progress, but I'm struggling with period details, circa Summer 1979. It makes me think I should be writing down all the details of what we eat and drink and buy now, because give us 25 years, and this will be history too.

Weird thought, eh?

Doing my sums

Word count: 79,677

Last night I tried to estimate more of the first draft of the WIP will actually be. I reckon, somewhere around about 38,000 words to go, so it’s realistic to think I can finish it by the end of Jan/beginning of Feb. That’ll give me a total word count of about 120,000 words, which is very slightly shorter than The Starter Marriage but 20,000 words longer than Old School Ties. Probably not interesting to anyone but me, but there you go…

Other than that, have been doing some sale shopping. Bought a jumper in Whistles (that place is too expensive to shop in at other times), plus a disco light for my cat who is OBSESSED with lights on the ceiling. It’s the only thing that gets her going, there could a tiger stalking the back garden and she’d ignore it in favour of the light cast when I accidentally move a mirror near a lamp. So this should drive her wild.

We watched Troy the other night. Another awful film. How can they spend that much money and get it so badly wrong?

Right. Back to work. Intend to write a flashback today of a child’s first ever visit to London. Must try to dredge up my own memories of going, which revolve around Hamley’s toyshop and the Tower of London. So both will no doubt feature in this scene.

Don't think I ever imagined I would actually live here...

Monday, December 27, 2004

Back on the chain gang…

Word Count: 75,591

Well, it’s hardly a chain gang, unless a novel is a chain of words that the writer has to link together to form an unbreakable line etc etc. I suppose if I was literary I could build that up into a complex analogy but as I am a lightweight chick lit fluff-head I will tell you about Christmas instead.

We went to this gorgeous hotel that we’ve stayed at before, which reminds me of how heaven would be if it exists. It’s all white and light with a special lift that takes you down to a spa where everyone pads around in slippers. There’s a fantastic Jacuzzi thing which is where we sat on Christmas Day after an enormous breakfast… lovely. I had lots of top class presents – books, body scrubs (I seem to have had a lot of these lately and I do love them, but I wonder if my body is very evidently in need of scrubbing?), jewellery, tokens, wine, chocolates. Also visited my parents, which was great, though mum’s got an unfestive cold, and visited boyf’s parents as well.

But you can’t live in a dressing-gowned lazy haze for ever, so today, I was excited about going back to the WIP. Haven’t done a huge amount but it’s coming on quite well.

Finally, have been following the news from SE Asia. I’ve visited both Sri Lanka and Thailand – both stunning countries with amazing people – and can’t believe how appalling the latest pictures and accounts are. I know it sounds really crass to be talking about spas one moment and talking about disasters the next, but I hope all the necessary aid reaches those in greatest need quickly and safely. I'm waiting for the emergency appeal to get organised, have just been googling but can't find an official donations site yet. I guess they're getting people out there first, gathering the money later.

Friday, December 24, 2004

Day Five – and a Merry Christmas Eve

Word Count: 72,851

I’m just about to give up for three days, but am pretty pleased with my word count so far, though I’d hoped to reach 75,000 by now. Though I won’t be writing, I’m sure I will be thinking about the book over Christmas dinner and hopefully come back to it with renewed vigour on Monday or Tuesday…

May Santa bring everything you wish for,
Kate xx

Thursday, December 23, 2004

Day 4

Word count: 70,832

This is all going well so far. Yes, I am surfing the internet quite a lot, but I have done an awful lot of writing (probably awful writing, but you need to get it on the page in order to improve it!) since Monday so I am feeling proud of myself.

True, it’s taking a lot more words to write each section, so I think am headed for a 120,000 word novel rather than a 100,000 – which means I’m only just half way through. But there’s some nice stuff coming out, it’s always fun when your ideas start overtaking the synopsis.

Am going to write all afternoon and then maybe a bit tomorrow morning (depending on hangover from evening out tonight) before giving up over Christmas for three days. Then more of the same next week.

I’ve also been giving some thoughts to writing goals for 2005. I’m a fervent goal-setter (blame the life coach training I’ve been doing) and have been considering some resolutions - much more fun than the old ‘giving up smoking/eating less chocolate’ variety…

My initial thoughts would be:
- Finish first draft of Book 3 by February (well, ideally January), giving me lots of time to turn it from a sow’s ear into something more like a silk purse by the May deadline;
- Write at least two short stories for women’s magazines to build up a bit more of a portfolio here as they can be lucrative and a good way of getting my name known
- Branch out into a new area of writing that interests me, either children’s writing or radio drama, submitting something by end of 2005. I always have lots of ideas but not always the time, so if I can get the novel done by February then I could dovetail editing that, with working on new ideas.

I’m sure I can think of some more over Christmas. Right, time to go to buy some Xmas goodies out there in the cold!

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Full speed ahead

Word count: 65,901

Hey... now that's impressive, non? And it's not even lunchtime.

OK, I am sure it's garbage, but it helps that I've been writing quite a dramatic scene. I stayed up late last night as well.

Just wish my tooth wasn't aching. I have to wait till 15th Jan before I can go back and have the root canal thingy sorted, so it's probably psychosomatic (look, here's an entire journal dedicated to it!), but it's still making me feel profoundly anti-social.

More later! In the meantime, I am going to read the winter edition of The Author, the magazine of the Society of Authors, which is full of top writerly tips. I loved joining the SOA, it made me feel so... authorly!

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Christmas writing marathon Day 2

Word count: 62,871

Hmmm, not a huge word count really. I am definitely slowing down this week. BUT I did brave Oxford Street today and that’s enough to cause Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. God what a bunch of homicidal maniacs.
I’m still struggling with a scene where the heroine is both drunk and mildly stoned: writing this while stone cold sober is quite a challenge. But I’ve just finished it and will try to improve it in the second draft.
Last night I went out and someone told me I looked like Kimberley Quinn. Hmmm not a compliment, I think. Am considering dying my hair blonde again.

Monday, December 20, 2004

The Christmas writing marathon begins…

Word Count: 61,614

It’s been a while since my last entry because I have been busy doing dull but essential stuff. Christmas shopping, having root canal treatment (and as I am the world’s worst dental wimp, that is an achievement in itself) and also putting most of my previous 59,000 words into the first person, present tense. Yep, it’s definitely the way forward… except it's been backward, actually cutting rather than expanding. So my word count has been as dormant as a dormouse.

At last I’m ploughing forward again! Hurrah! The previous stuff is very far from perfect but at least I have it in the right tense and POV, so I am going to crack on with the rest of the book, finish it and then edit it into submission. I am probably being naïve but I’m actually looking forward to the editing process this time as I think I have a much clearer idea than when I started out of how to turn a dog’s breakfast of a book into something rather better. Or maybe not.

So I have a timetable I plan to write to over Christmas! I know it’s a time for eating, drinking and watching The Sound of Music, but that bores me very quickly so I actually like having something else to do. I did a lot of the work on my previous two novels during the Christmas holidays, so sitting hunched over my laptop is almost a festive traditional for me now. Though last year I overdid it and ended up with what I feared might be RSI. I invested in voice recognition software which provided lots of amusement for my boyfriend as I read fairytales into the computer in an attempt to get it to recognise my voice. Never quite worked so this year it has to be little and often.

Not much else to report. Lots of lovely parties have been had – got another tonight. I’ve just done the copy-edit for my American publisher, it was fascinating to see what changes I needed to make. For example, I never knew that ‘pong’ wasn’t a word Americans used. It means smell/stink by the way…

Right, must go and tart myself up for tonight’s outing. I plan to keep posting to show that I am working hard so watch this space!!

Saturday, December 04, 2004

Finally, the verdict

Word Count: 59,734

Hurrah! Got my feedback… well, from my editor, anyway. The pages I sent to my agent were delayed by Britain’s creaking postal service so I need to wait a bit longer for that.

The comments from Kate at Orion are so useful and well expressed, even the negatives sound like positives. This way of working is very new to me, but I think that I’m becoming more ambitious in what I write, experimenting with different viewpoints and so on, so having editorial input is far more valuable than, say, with my first novel which was more straightforward.

What she had to say makes absolute sense and she also had some great news about the response The Starter Marriage is getting from the book trade after the proofs were sent out. It’s terrific to get this feedback, though I am trying not to expect too much. With 100,000 plus titles published every year, you have to be realistic about how much of an impact you’re going to make. But then authors have overactive imaginations, so it’s hard not to have flights of fancy about selling lots of copies and being on those tables at the front of every store…

So I am currently in the process of putting whole sections of Brown Owl’s Guide to Life into the first person, and working out how to prune back on some of the other characters’ stories. Kate’s right that there’s too much going on, as I currently have the stories of four women in the present day PLUS lots of flashback to the 1970s centring on the life of one of their mothers. And it’s a bit of a mishmash. It’s possible a better writer than me could pull it off, but I think maybe I’ve over-stretched myself. Still, keeps things interesting!

I have so many other projects in my head that I am a bit frustrated at never having the time to begin them, but never mind. There’ll be time once the book’s finished, which I guess will be around March/April for the first draft. Am slightly alarmed by the fact that my first book took me three months, and each subsequent one seems to take longer… but hopefully that also means I am getting better.

Other news. Well, it’s cold. I have Christmas shopping to do this weekend. Oh and next Tuesday we get news on all the BBC redundancies. But we still won’t know who’s for the chop till the New Year. My suggestion of doing it by surname lottery – ‘and the first people to go will be….’ Mark Thompson plucks out a letter of the alphabet from a tombola ‘everyone whose name begins with H’ – has been ignored. But it makes about as much sense as everything else they’re suggesting.

Have a great week,
Kate x