The maths: second novel; chapter three of twenty-nine; draft two of who knows how many. Last time, I had no idea how long these things took. Now I do. Ignorance made everything so much easier.
Yesterday I thought I’d made great progress with a scene. I then counted: 72 words in three hours.
I love the idea of a long project, something to get my teeth into. But you can tell how well it’s going today by the sudden appearance of this blog post and the amount of housework I’ve done. My whites are soaking in the bath, days before I run out of clean shirts.
Just think how much better this chapter will look when I see it on draft three.
Anybody else in the same position?
Goodness! Is it that long since I wrote a post? Admittedly, it was March, but my last post featured the snow. Now I’m worried about finding water bottles and sun lotion.
So why have I been doing a Greta Garbo? Do I have any reasonable excuses?
April was the CampNanowrimo challenge. This time, egged on by Rachel my critique partner, I put 30 hours of editing into my second novel. That doesn’t sound very much, but I was meticulous — deep work counted — staring out of the window thinking about writing didn’t. And there were Easter Holidays to navigate and articles to finish at the same time. Convert the hours into minutes (30 x 60 = 1800) and it sounds a lot better.
I cut 20,000 words, so the novel is almost novella at the moment. I’m happy with the characters and plot. I now need to work on my setting — make sure I imagine it properly and not leave a white backdrop. As I do that, I’m beginning to see the book take shape and look a little more like I want it to do.
I’ve called the new novel Exile. I have days I like what I’ve written and days I don’t, but I’m always pleased with that title.
I don’t remember learning much at primary school other than reading, writing and how a mung bean grows. Today, my seven-year-old started up a conversation about the trials of finding a publisher. He’d been given JK Rowling’s struggle as an example. I was in my thirties before anyone told me this stuff.
After a hiatus, I’ve turned back to editing my second novel. It’s rough of course, but to my surprise, readable, at least up to page 60. One scene follows on from the next. Unlike my first novel at this stage, there are no scenes just there for the word count.
This time, I’m using third-person with its pitfalls and opportunities. Telling the same tale from different points of view is a lot of fun. But I miss my old narrator. Like any relationship, it took time to get to know her.
I’ve received word of a commission from a new client – a magazine I’ve wanted to work for, for some time. So I’m pleased if a little bogged down in new contributor paperwork.
Happy New Year!
Two of my children went back to school yesterday, relatives left and my husband went back to work. I went straight to Office World to buy some index cards.
I’d call my relationship with routine “passionate”, rather than “happy”. I rail against it when it’s here, but goodness! am I glad to see it after a long absence? School drop-offs that force me to start my day by half past seven. The sense of purpose I get just writing an invoice. The freedom to catch up with my emails, rather than eating another mince pie.
And not having time to look at the first page of my novel, again!
Last month, I showed my first three chapters to my writing group. After two hours of critique, I was as grateful as I was exhausted. They were supportive, encouraging, but rigorous and my first page received most of their rigour.
There’s so much it has to do: introduce a setting and two characters from one person’s POV; keep to the ground rules of grammar, and interest someone long enough to make them read on.
Whining won’t get it written, but I don’t think working on it at the moment will help either. Like cooks and elves after Christmas, it needs a rest.
I don’t understand the choices my computer keeps offering me. The more updates it has, the slower it gets. Surely, they should improve its performance? I still miss being in halls of residence with people who knew about this stuff and importantly, would help me for free.
We started watching Motherland last night on BBC iPlayer. Everything resonated- the spurious temporary traffic lights on the school run; the child throwing up seconds before other children arrive for a party; the phone call about a child’s forgotten swimming things (parent to teacher on phone- “Just a question- did you try my husband?”and eventually,”You and I both know he’s going to end up sitting at the side!”); envying other women with parents round the corner, ever-present husbands and childcare sewn up for all but one Thursday afternoon a month, and so on and so on. (Husband to wife over phone: “remember when you drop one of those balls I’ll be here to pick it up and hand it to you so you can keep juggling!”)
Apologies to the BBC for the paraphrasing, but you have commissioned something brilliant. I wish I’d written it.
Fantasy: (while having perfectly balanced and secure children) to be part of a comedy team that develops fabulous characters and nails a section of life like that.
Three hours of undiluted housework. It doesn’t matter how many hugs I give my children, how many times they’ve been in bed within half an hour of their bedtimes, that they start the day with clean school clothes, or that I’ve attended two parents’ evenings in a week, and come up with tech solutions for my son, if the house is in chaos (untidy is a given), I get crosser and crosser with myself, sure under those piles of papers there are permission slips I’ve not returned or incomplete homework sheets.
Work-life balance isn’t the issue. As a mum-freelancer hybrid, life is work and vice versa. I need to find the writing-housework sweet spot where I’m producing as many words and doing as little tidying-up as I can without any Nixon-like guilt.
Today, I have a sofa full of clean washing (albeit none of it in its right place) and clear surfaces in my kitchen. I’m just about to pick my children up from school feeling like Mother Theresa.
I’ve said this before, but it’s so much easier to blog when you’re having a good day. It’s sunny, the air is clean, and I achieved almost unprecedented efficiency with my pitches this morning. So much so, I rewarded myself with a pumpkin latte. And just as I was sitting down, an email came in asking me to do an article I hadn’t pitched, but would really enjoy writing.
If it makes me any less obnoxious, Friday was a real stinker.
Anyway, onwards and upwards with a little more momentum than usual.