Hello cruel world. I mean, ‘world of possibilities just waiting to be sought.’ See what I did there? I made a negative thought into a positive one. That is what writers do.
To be fair, there is no negativity at all right now. I’m in a very good place and I’m aware that it won’t always be like this, so I’m savouring it.
Like all new things, I’m learning and my lesson from the publishing world since January is slow the F down and editing: ha ha ha. As in, ha ha ha, you idiot.
The last time I checked in about my writing and novel update I was powering on through the first draft with steam in my sails and wind in my belly. From all the chocolate I was devouring. And tea. And ahem, wine.
I got there. I typed THE END after a writing stint of nine or ten weeks (depending, there were a few gaps) and from nowhere tears sprang forth from my eyes. I had been ill and lost a weekend the previous weekend so that Saturday I cancelled all plans: social, eating, breathing and just typed till it all came out. I think I did 8,000 words in the final day. That’s a lot. And, I’d imagine, if I ever ran a marathon (HA HA, as if) the tears would come the same. Exhausted, but happy. And what an achievement!
I had lined up two beta readers, mostly by chance and also to give myself another mark in the road to get to. I assured one of my readers that the first draft was going to plan and I’d just take a bit of time to look over it and I’d send it to her then. Actually she was coming round for tea in a few days, sure I could print it out, ready to go for Friday.
Well. Let me tell you – editing is not something you do in a few days. Or get ready for Friday. Or just have a tweak and a fiddle with and it’ll all ‘be grand’.
Editing is basically rewriting the book. Line by line. Taking weeks, if not months.
It’s not that the first draft is that bad; it’s hardly great, but it’s not woeful either. I think my structure will likely stay and my characters too, but the whole things needs beating into shape. Trimming, stitching, going back to emphasise a point, a character flaw.
My voice at the start is a bit all over the place. It was like I was testing the writing waters when I started – you can see lines that are wishy-washy and are a bit thrashy. I cringe a bit as I delete.
But the advantage this time is that the story is complete so I can pull story lines and plots and characteristics out now that I had hinted at in places but didn’t really expand on. I can see errors and mistakes. I know people’s voices and it’s easy to chop bits out.
It’s a time-consuming, at times exhausting process, but I’m able to stand over my work when I’m finished. I feel that by the end of editing, I will have a decent second draft that can go out to beta readers for feedback. And then we’re really beginning to get somewhere.
Events wise, I attended Doolin Writers’ Weekend which you can read all about here. It was amazing, went better than I expected and I came away with a lot – from new thoughts on how to summarise my story and capture its theme, to friends and contacts made and massive encouragement on the path I’m on.
I’ve submitted the first two chapters of my novel to Date with An Agent, which takes place at the end of May in Dublin. I’m really hoping to secure a slot where you pitch to an agent – it will be the first time for me if I get it and I have serious work to do on the pitch – as so far I have struggled to summarise it to the many people who’ve asked, ‘what’s your book about?’ and this is ringing alarm bells for me. Why can’t I describe it? How can I expect someone else to sell it, if I can’t? And I work in marketing! If I don’t get the slot I’ll still attend the conference anyway, because it’s a whole day of people talking about publishing. I’d rather die than not be there. (Well… you know what I mean).
I planted a large smile on my face for the full week after I found out that I came runner up in the Ernest Hemingway Flash Fiction Award. My story ‘Branding Day’ is due to be published on Fiction Southeast online literary journal. This was a real boost because I felt the story was worthy of publication and it had been rejected a few times in Ireland. Because the competition was US based and ran for almost six months I have to believe there were a lot of entries and to be picked as one of five runner-ups is an achievement for me. Oh and I got an OMG tweet from the judge after I tracked him down on Twitter like the literary stalker that I am that mentioned ‘exceptionally well written’ and mentioned a Pulitzer prize winner. Who needs Oscars, seriously?
Other than that, I don’t think I have any more writing news. The year so far has been very quiet, filled with hard work if I’m honest. I’ve turned down lots of invites, and have become a bit of a writing recluse – but I needed that to get to where I wanted to go and there will be plenty of nights out in the future.
I’ve a few upcoming launches and events, I have a stack of books that I want to read and get in touch with the authors about. I’m moving in the circles I want to be moving in and I don’t mean going round in circles – I mean chatting with successful authors and publishers who may hopefully one day, play a part in my writing future.
I’ve set up an Aspiring Authors Ireland & UK Facebook page and we have a nice little community of like-minded writers in contact. You can join here.
I hope the next time I check in with you, the novel draft will have gone out to beta readers. And the bloody hell will I do with myself then?