Saturday, October 29, 2005

Moving stories

Word count: dunno, don't care

I am surrounded by boxes. And more boxes. And items I don't have a box big enough for (when you live in a flat, there's no handy loft for chucking all those enormous cartons you get the TV, video etc in). My boyfriend brought me about two dozen of those document type boxes, as he's very disparaging about the ones I ordered over the internet... but I've filled those and still have still.

Things remaining (hmmm, this reads like a list for burglars but to be honest I think they will realise it's not worth the effort):
TV
CD player
Portable CD player
Fridge Freezer
Bed, wardrobe, table, sofa, exercise bike, blanket box etc
Two chairs you can sit on without collapsing
Two chairs that collapse if you put a magazine on them
Lots of clothes that don't quite fit but I can't decide whether to chuck or not
About eight vital files of stuff that I need in case the sale falls through and I have to move into rented accommodation
Likewise enough plates and pans for the next fortnight
Three Brownie annuals, six Brownie handbooks, one Brownie manuscript

Actually, this last bit is intriguing. Do you keep your printed out manuscripts? It feels a shame to chuck 'em but each one is a ream of paper and say, by some fluke, people want to publish me till at least normal retirement age, at the rate of a book a year, we're talking AT LEAST 20-25 reams of paper. And that's only keeping one draft.

I have recycled most of them except the current one. I can't see the British Library appealing for my every scrap and note after my death for its Chick Lit Archive...

Meanwhile, am paranoid after saturation press coverage about identity theft and wondering whether to have a bonfire party next weekend and burn everything as apparently even shredders are dodgy.

Yesterday was a Task Fest: cat to vet, me to dentist, disposing of two defunct laptops to a charity, removals quote (around£770 incl VAT literally to carry stuff to a van and then remove at other end, as I will have done all the packing. Plus I have to pay £110 to the gits at Hammersmith Council just for reserving space outside my house on move day. Outrageous amount...

So there's not much mental space for writing. Though next week I am going to work on the TV script. But this weekend it's back to the packing.

Lovely link of the day:
Help I am Moving is a reassuring site that I keep going back to... though I think there should be a section on which hair dye to use when your hair goes grey.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Hooray!

Word Count (book 3): 136,822

Done it! The copy edit is finished... what a relief. It's taken forever, but every time I've read it, I've found new parts to improve.

Tonight I am having a night off writing AND packing for the house move (which I don't even want to think about as that's proving very stressful and I don't quite know what I am going to do) and having wine and nice food and putting feet up.

Can't even find the energy for a Lovely Link of the Day as far too many hours this week have been spent at this darned laptop, but normal service will be resumed next time.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

P-P-Day

Word count: that's not important today

Today The Starter Marriage is published in paperback – and it all feels a little anti-climactic. Publication days are like that anyway, unless you are very famous, because the book will appear in the shops when the retailers decide to unwrap them, which could be before or after the nominal date. Or, in the case of some writers I know of, never actually appear at all because someone forgot to unpack them.

Most authors do try to make it an occasion – a launch party, perhaps part-funded by their publisher. Mine did that for me in April for the hardback publication, and very jolly it was too, I felt positively bridal.

But when it’s just a new edition – even when sales of the new edition will be far more crucial in determining my whole future as a writer – then there’s no real reason to get excited. Except I have been checking amazon (no surprise there) hoping that there might be a sudden rise in my ranking. Um. Not yet. Not helped I guess by the fact that it’s still saying ‘not yet published.’
And I will be taking the boyf out this evening for a yummy meal at the kind of posh French restaurant I usually avoid (because French restaurants and vegetarianism tend not to be a match made in heaven). And I will have a glass of champagne, to wish my paperback the best of luck on its journey into the unknown.

Then it’s back to the copy edits…
PS: It is being sold at a bargain price of £3.99 (or less in some shops) – ie less than a pack of four alcopops.

Lovely Link of the Day:
Via grumpyoldbookman, I reached Sex and Cash Theory makes me nervous, given that my plan is to ditch the day job. The site also has the most brilliant cartoons and observations.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

The End Must be Nigh... surely?

Word count:
Book 3: about the same
Book 4: exactly the same

And now, the end is near… and thank goodness for that. Can I just say – yet again – how much I LOATHE COPY EDITS?

Again, I am not blaming the copy editor. This is not down to her: it’s down to me a) writing such bloody long books (130,000 when 100,000 or even 80,000 is perfectly adequate in my genre) and b) putting in so many redundant phrases and repetitive phrases.

I think this is taking longer because I am improving as a writer. That’s the most positive spin to put on it. I am naturally quite verbose, quite self-indulgent with words (just look at that last repetition, or ask anyone who has been in a bar with me after a few too many glasses of Merlot). The interesting question is how far that is My Unique Style (ho ho) or Total and Utter Laziness.

Another thing: capital letters. I have quite a few of those in the new book. For example (I didn’t actually write this in the book), a sentence like: It was then that I met the Official Love of My Life.

That’s not the best example, but the idea is that it’s meant as a joke. Admittedly not a very funny one (punctuation as humour. Hmmm), but it sometimes works. The copy editor clearly doesn’t agree and has taken them all out, and more besides for things like the Wishing Pond (a prop used in Brownie Guide Promise Ceremonies – there I go again. More capitals). Now is that fair enough? I can’t quite decide.

By now I guess you’re less than surprised that this process has so far taken me about ten days. I went through the text on paper and now I am going back to the Word document to put in all the tweaks and cuts: tonight I managed about a third of it, but now the letters are swimming in front of my eyes and I am going to bed. At this rate I’ll finish by the end of the week. And then I am having a lot to drink.

Next time I MUST try to hone the words as I go along. Or write less.

Lovely link of the day:
I’ve linked to author and writing coach Jacqui Lofthouse’s blog before, but I am doing it again as she’s posted a great summary of a workshop she gave at the Cheltenham Literary Festival about creating convincing characters.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Slooooooow

Word count: same as before

The fact I haven’t posted for a few days means it’s probably no surprise to anyone reading that I haven’t made any progress with Book 4. The copy edits have intervened… it is quite a struggle to get through them as I do like to re-read very carefully, to cut out redundant parts and phrases. And then I get into big thoughts about whole sequences, convince myself it’s all awful, then find a bit I like again… round and round in circles.

It’s been a mixed week so far: good news about a possible translation deal for Starter Marriage, some promising health news for someone close to me, and summery weather that has sent everyone in West London skipping about in t-shirts (until this afternoon when it rained and rained). But on the downside, my radio script got the bum’s rush, which was disappointing as I knew it wasn’t perfect but thought it had potential. Actually, they did think it was a good idea with well-observed dialogue, strong characters etc, but it didn’t get any further. Even at this point, with a couple of novels behind me, any rejection is hurtful. And developments on the house move are VERY very slow, so I am unsure where I will be living in four weeks’ time…

Weird, though, even typing this helps me put it in proportion: I can learn from my radio play experience. The house thing will sort itself out in time. It’s brilliant that people like my writing enough that they want to translate 130,000 words of it into another language. And I have my health, touch wood. When I look at the headlines from Asia, I do feel rather self-obsessed. Get a grip, Kate.

Lovely Link of the Day:
I found this article about the Rejection Dance – applies more to journalism but it was a fun read. Though in my case, to be honest, they were probably right that the script sucked. Sometimes you just have to recognise your limitations as well as your good points!

Friday, October 07, 2005

Beginnings and Endings

Word count: 4,303

This is the good bit... the stage of writing a book when the characters are becoming real, yet still have plenty of mystery about them. The most important thing for me at this stage is that I like my characters, and am also excited about what I'm going to put them through! Even though I don't quite know all the details yet.

When it comes to planning I am somewhere between a Plotter and a Pantser (term I've heard used for authors who write 'by the seat of their pants'). This time round, I have a couple of pages of headlines, a rough chronology of what happens overall. But there's a lot of detail still to be filled in: what time of year is it? (I am thinking of beginning in February) whether I am setting it in a real place or a semi-fictional one? And there are some even more fundamental ones like how far can I push the tragedy in what is fundamentally a comedy?

At the opposite end of the scale is the Brown Owl copy edit, which has arrived by courier this morning. I hate this stage - and I wouldn't be a copy-editor for anything. It's the first time my MS has arrived back with electronic comments on it, and if anything it makes my work look sloppier, because it shows all the little errors I've made more clearly than pencil marks. I do feel rather guilty when I see all the mistakes and dodgy punctuation.

And I thank Orion the Dogstar that my copy editor is clever enough to pick up on the numerous inconsistencies like:
  • a bottle of wine changing colour from red to white half way down a page
  • confusing timescales
  • the sudden disappearance of four Brownies...

Overall, there's not that much to do, but I will want to do some trimming of the text to get rid of some over-writing, so it's not as simple as it seems. This is really the last chance to make any significant changes.

But I am having a weekend off as we're going to a fab hotel... more details when I am back!

Lovely Link of the Day:

Kate White is the editor of American Cosmo AND a novelist. This article is all about writing a novel at the same time as doing a demanding job and raising a family. Makes me feel like a wimp for making plans to quit the day job!

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

The process

Word Count: 2,616

Yay... I know it's not a huge number, but it is progress and with so many other things on my mind, I feel I am doing OK. I read out the first section at my writing group on Monday and got a good response - though knowing how delicate we all feel when we embark on things, it's hard to know a) how they could judge on 10 minutes' worth and b) how much they'd feel inclined to criticise even if they felt it was a turkey.

Which brings me onto my
Lovely Link of the Day:
Via Miss Snark, I reached this wonderful chronicle of a writers' group: it's like a Big Brother set in literary circles, and anyone who has ever attended a writing class or workshop will recognise some of the types. I should stress that the writing circle I attend now is NOTHING like this, but the diary does raise interesting questions, like what is the right balance of criticism and encouragement, and whether it's possible to give useful feedback on a genre you know nothing about. And DO read to the end of the Chronicles... it's worth it.

Saturday, October 01, 2005

Pulling teeth

Word count: 1,761

Blimey it's hard. I feel all excited until I sit down to write and then it's garbage. The characters feel unreal, and the dialogue feels stilted and samey, and the action marginally less entertaining than watching paint dry.

This IS normal, I know, but still irritating. I want it to flow. But the only way to get it to flow is to plough on. 500 words a day for now, and then hopefully I will reach a point when I am desperate to write much more than 500 words... and you'll read it here first!

Lovely Link of the Day:
This satirical piece about getting started made me laugh. Just off to find myself a grizzly bear to wrestle.