Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Done. Almost.

I thought about just leaving this blog post as the title on its own, because it just about sums up everything I have to say. But that seemed a bit... stingy. Oh, by the way, I haven't had much sleep. So don't expect the right words in the right places or anything. (Or rather, as I typed that originally, "don't expect the right words inntb eh righy placex". Which, coincidentally, is one of my favourite Basque proverbs.)

I don't know if you've seen the film 28 Days Later. It's not one of my top ten... but there's a moment when the hero's making his way through the apocalypse-torn, disease-ridden world and he goes into a church and up some stairs, and the camera focuses on some graffiti: NIGH, it says, in huge spray-painted letters. And then the shot pans up, and it says above that, FUCKING. And then EXTREMELY. It takes longer than you think to get to THE END IS...

So my edits were - OK, are, so much for having finished, I've got to start again at the beginning now - a bit like that. Last week I worked really bloody hard (up at six, worked till four, started again after dinner, till midnight) thinking that that day I would get there. It wasn't till yesterday this morning, at ten past three, that I finally wrote the last sentence. I was too tired even to feel particularly triumphant. But now I have a new draft. Not the final draft. Probably not even close. But those problems, which seemed like a brick wall, did have handholds, after all. I'm not sure that, having climbed up, I won't have to inch my way painstakingly back down again and find another route - but right now I can take a breather, hoping I'm on the right track.

Sleep. Read. Do some laundry.

I did tell my agent that she'd have the MS by the end of the week, though. So tomorrow I will be back to work. No doubt, this time tomorrow, I will be staring helplessly at my computer screen and wondering if I could just cut straight to the middle of the book. Actually - there's a thought...

That last sentence probably won't be the real, final, actual last sentence. But the end is extremely fucking nigh.

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

Editing. Still.

I refuse to get into the habit of starting every blog post with an apology for not blogging more, because that way madness lies... but, er, well. Sorry. I should blog more. I suck.

Basically, this is because I'm still editing. And the editing is weighing so heavily on me that if I do anything else I feel guilty. Including blogging. Right now, though, I'm on my lunch hour (ha! who'm I trying to kid? my lunch hours) and facebook was looking boring and googling myself wasn't fruitful and the BBC iPlayer wasn't showing anyth-- wait, I'm giving away far too much, here. I am a hard-working writer, honest.

Anyway, here we go. Hello. Long time no see... :)

I was hoping to get a new draft of Edward Leigh to my agent last week, for the 1st of February. I did actually think I could do that, right up until the 30th or so of January, when it dawned on me that I'd only got halfway through and most of the work is in the second half. I've never missed a writing deadline before, and it came as a bit of a shock. The thing is, I thought I had it sorted. In January I'd sat down and more or less told myself what I needed to do, scenes I needed to add or delete and so on. Then all I had to do was just implement my notes and All Would Be Well.

Did you spot the deliberate mistake? Yes, it was the "more or less".

So there are a few problems with that rosy idea of editing. Firstly, edits, like a novel, are only meaningful once you've written them. They will always work in theory. It's only when you're writing them that you realise that there's a glitch or a bug or whatever. (In my case, MAJOR PLOT POINTS which have been ENTIRELY FORGOTTEN. Oops.) And secondly, "just adding or deleting scenes" is like saying "just writing a novel". Today I've written more than a thousand words from scratch, which in a first draft situation would be a good day's work. But according to my (and I do not want to admit that it's even slightly optimistic) schedule, I have another fifty pages to get through this afternoon. And another hundred tomorrow. Wish me luck.

It's like toothpaste. You look at the nearly empty tube and think, oh, not much there, better buy some more. But then, as you squeeze, the toothpaste builds up until by the time you've rolled the tube up halfway you realise there's a bloody sight more toothpaste than you'd bargained for. (OK, so that metaphor would work better if toothpaste was more of a burdensome, negative thing. Probably not many people find out they've got more toothpaste than they realised and feel utterly daunted and overwhelmed. Although if you do, let me say that I know exactly how you feel, because toothpaste - well, it can be so like editing...)  

Or rather it's like a machine. You think it's just a question of changing a few cogs and then you realise that a) now the whole balance of the thing has gone and there's a lot more recalibration to do and b) it's still not going to work after that and you don't know why.


Actually, I think it is advancing. I might get it done by next week. I really hope so, because I'm dying to do some reading and writing and fiddling and thinking and you know, writerly stuff*, without feeling guilty. Then again - anyone else find themselves editing and gradually starting to think, hang on, I think I'm making this worse? Those moments when there wasn't enough of a particular character, so you take them out entirely, or you suddenly realise you've cut the very part your agent liked so much, or... wait, this is getting too depressing. Enough - if you know what I mean you know what I mean.

On the plus side, it will be finished one day. I hope. And then we will look back and laugh. Ho ho.

And The Broken Road came out this week - hurrah! - and has already had a lovely review on bookbag.

And the salt and pepper pots are safely back at King's College.** (I assume. I didn't phone to ask.)

You lose some, you win some.

* AKA sleeping.
** Although sorry, Elin, those Maltesers may never return to their rightful home...