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...


  1. I'm reading The Broken Road at the moment. It's excellent so far, so here's hoping it gets plenty more lovely reviews in the near future ! (I actually started reading it last week, because a certain bookshop in Dublin apparently decided to sell it a bit early. I'm going to blame my slowness on the fact that I'm editing my own novel! It's fun times, let me tell you.)

  2. No, the maltesers never did make it back I'm afraid. However, there were some lurking on the raffle table during last week's panto (where someone told me I made a very convincing fishwife...I wasn't sure if that was a compliment - though I hasten to add I was 'acting'. It wasn't just a random comment.)
    You know, although your editing might feel painful at the moment, you should take heart in the knowledge that by sharing your pain you're helping me and, it seems, Sean above. Your pain helps us keep going :D