Thursday, July 27, 2006

Conf 223: The Other One

Have been working like the clappers these last few days. From Monday we'll be away for 2 weeks and so have been cashing in on a deluge of work offers and taking it all on. A script about a child without a face (factual) and an endless flow of comedy character analyses. My fingers feel ready to drop off. Seinfeld? What do you want to know?

Finished in time to take daughter & goddaughter on the Go Ape climb this afteroon, rudely interrupted by massive thunderstorm breaking through the heatwave. We were called down out of the trees (brimming with metal wires!)and had to go back to base camp. We hadn't a clue it was coming, set off in light clothes and smothered in suncream. The drive back home along the M3 was like something out of one of those American freaky weather shows, oohing and ahing at the lightning and dodging the floods and wailing fire engines.

Feel a bit of a fraud for saying The End last time. It is, for that draft, but still not in a state for anyone to read. Am also wondering about the Other Novel now. In the way that as soon as one job's over another takes its place? I really should have finished that one first. I know that now. And shouldn't have been swayed by one editor telling me why she wouldn't be buying it. Had 2 seriously senior agents waiting for its completion. WILL finish it, though, whilst embarking on the dreaded marketing plan in September.

Bye bye, thanks for visiting, come again soon.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Conf 222: Finished

No of words: 73,833

Whoo.

The first thing I did was sweep the garden. Not the grass, the patio bit, and threw out old pots and bits shoved along the side of the house. This is because, in my new garden-site seat, I saw a little furry visitor strolling by. A rat, ugh. We're right by a river so they're there, of course they're there, but had to make sure there was no nesting going on and block the gaps in the fence.

Feel a definite sense of freedom, of all this space around me (even if it does have rats scurrying around in it). Of being a normal person again who can do OTHER THINGS! Read a book, even. Got to get my holiday books this week. Am having eyes tested this afternoon.

The last chapter was so hard to write. I hadn't planned what was going to happen at the end between the 2 lovers. Wrote it on Sunday, next day woke up with a final line, flipping the story away to somewhere else completely. All the way through this draft I've been debating the Charles Palliser pre-plotting words of wisdom up against the Stephen King idea which goes something like 'if you don't know what's going to happen, the characters won't know what's going to happen to them and the reader won't know either.' I think the answer has to lie between the two. Lots of plotting but lots of freedom for tangents too.

I have some chapter shifting around to do before printing off and there'll be plenty of adjustments to make. I'm going to use Holly's one pass revision system. Also have to listen to and read the lyrics of Leonard Cohen to put in some fun foreshadows in the earlier part of the book. Situations rather than words as you're not, of course, allowed to quote directly.

Bye bye, thanks for visiting, come again soon.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Conf 221: To Freebie or Not To Freebie?

No of words: Same

I've moved!

All of 6 yards, away from the fridge to the garden corner of the room beside the back French window. I thought partner would object, because he gets very weary of my furniture moving fanaticism. But he was surprisingly all for it. Everything feels clean and fresh, I have a new wall to look at, much smoother and less wobbly.

The work work still hasn't arrived so some surprising free time over the weekend. I did the research for my newspaper pieces yesterday. I have been offered my first freebie! What do I do? Politely refuse saying I do not wish to jeopardise my journalistic integrity? Say yes please and stash? Say yes please and pass it on to the reader? That was my first instinct, but the company offer was to me so that I can, as an expert in my little domestic-goddess-like corner of the world, sample their wares. Would have to involve the editor, too, get reader's address and then ask the company to send it to them, which wasn't their intention. So I think it's a case of licking finger and striking the air with a one and trousering. Met a journalist the other day who writes about health spas. Imagine that? She gets invitations all the time from spas around the world, asking her, begging her, to come and sample their wares. What do I get? A bottle of brass polish. Well, it's a start and I'm chuffed . I was, I hasten to add, going to write about them anyway.

Am hopeful can get some work on the final chapter today. But am also keen to start shifting stuff around earlier in the book. I'm obviously in a shifting stuff kind of a mood. However WON'T allow myself to do that until I've reached the end. Though time has been genuinely tight, there may be something psychological about not wanting to finish. I am scared about sending it out. Really, really scared. In a way my time away from the pressures of publication and all that it entails has been a precious time. Yes we're manically broke and my partner's taking the stress of this far more than I am; all I can do is work as hard as I can and hope things will improve. Obviously if the rejections pour in that hope is going to get a nasty slap.

Manically broke and revving up for the hols. Tut. But we're so lucky to have been invited to stay with friends. We're splashing out on a couple of hotel nights on the way back. We were going to camp but have sadly decided we've reached the age where avoiding Other People's Noises and The Necessity for Personal Bathroom Space have taken priority. Finally found a reasonably priced hotel yesterday, near a tiny resort we discovered last year which is the very beach where Mr Hulot took his Holiday. I am a sucker for this kind of tourism, for years we've been going to Sybille Bedford's Sanary sur Mer and I've spent many happy hours tracking down the places in the book.

Bye bye, thanks for visiting, come again soon.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Conf 220: Last Day of Term

No. of words: same

A respite from the work work yesterday evening, but more arriving in the post in a moment. One Chapter to Go. Very frustrating but will somehow fit it in next week so that I have a full MS to take away with me. Am looking forward to this file of words to work at in between flops, swims, reads and chats.

Grumpy has found
The Frontlist, an interesting new way of finding a literary agent. I'm wary of posting work up on the internet but this looks like it's worth looking into.

Petite is in trouble for writing her blog at work. I've been following her beautifully written diary on and off since the Mr Frog days. She's one of those writers who makes you feel like you know her as a personal friend, along with all her other fans am keeping fingers crossed for her.

Bye bye, thanks for visiting, come again soon.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Conf 219: Winding Down Manic Style

No. of words: Same

End of term week. The time of year when everything seems to speed up and slow down at the same time. The heatwave is relentless. Yesterday was apparently the hottest day England has ever had, since records began.

I am grateful I can work from home, this room is cool and breezy and I sit between the gentle hum of 2 fridges full of ice, melon and strawberries. The pool outside is out of bounds until daughter gets home then it's jumping in time and we float and splash and chat about her day. Then I go back to work for the rest of the afternoon and evening. We fight over the computer, so I get some rest when she does her MSNing and homework.

More came in yesterday, and more is coming in today for the weekend. It's comedy characters still so at least I am getting something out of it & have pinched some of Roseanne's characteristics for my girl's losing-it period. My fingers are bearing up well. At least they're going to have a holiday soon as well.

Bye bye, thanks for visiting, come again soon.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Monday, July 17, 2006

Conf 218: Closer & Closer

No. of words: 72,254

One more chapter to go. It's 3.30 and I haven't stopped for exercise, breakfast or lunch. Breaking off now as daughter back from school and we're off to see friend's cocker spaniel puppy.

So much for thinking about the end scenes and how to write them, I've been waking up in the mornings thinking about the beginning. New scenes to be added. And, for some reason, a man in a purple head-scarf, as if thinking of him like that will make him behave in a certain way.

A bit of a cheat really, saying it's The End, because there is plenty of re-editing to do on these final scenes. I do think the next draft will be more pleasurable and more to do with the actual writing and cutting yet more crap.

32 pages of 'outtakes' to look through as well. When I delete scenes or paragraphs, they're all cut and pasted into a document. It makes it easier to let things go that way.

What timing, some work work has just been delivered, 3 tapes, so that's tomorrow out, then Wednesday's the birthday day, tho I'll have school-time. It does feel good though, can almost feel the draughts of air of freedom waiting on the other side.

Bye bye, thanks for visiting, come again soon.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Conf 217: Dealing With The End

Wordcount: coming & going

Work work has been intervening once more, so another pause whilst I type up transcripts about a poverty-stricken Chinese giant and an Armenian weightlifting child genius.

Printed off the dodgy final chapters and clipped them into the file to study before the final onslaught. Many major deletings of stupendously bad writing brought 37 pages down to 14. BUT they've been something concrete to work with and have done their job of avoiding the dreaded blank page horrors. Have now transferred each scene to a card with a goal/conflict/disaster; reaction/dilemma/decision structure outline. If I can moof around and concentrate on the overall tone of the ending enough, hopefully some fresh and more interesting ways will reveal themselves.

One more week of term, should be able to get a chapter down a day, in rough form, and be, technically, finished in 5 days. Possible, but holiday planning and daughter's party planning taking over.

Bye bye, thanks for visiting, come again soon.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Conf 216: A Character Dilemma

No. of words: 79,363

A character come to life:

The second half of my novel is set on the Greek island of Hydra. My character meets these 2 guys who run a bar up a dark back alley. Barry owns it, Charles runs it. It's an ex-pat hidey hole, hidden away from the tourists, based it on a traveller's caff called The Pudding Shop in Istanbul. Anyhow, Barry the bar owner is American, a short easy-going guy with a long beard and a Cheech & Chong bandana. I've been to Greece plenty of times but never Hydra so I've been indulging in a bit of internet research for background, and who pops up but Barry's doppleganger, Pan, or should that be the other way round? I have now put the real Pan in wandering up and down the harbourside so that, if (IF) it ever is published, I don't get accused of stealing his soul. Will that be enough? Do I have to change Barry a bit more to be safe?

Bye bye, thanks for visiting, come again soon.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Conf 215: A Genre Is Born

No. of words: 79,200

At the college evening Diana told me about this notice in The Bookseller:


Fifty Is Not a 4-letter Word

Sue Fletcher of Hodder has done a two-book deal via Jonny Geller of Curtis Brown for a first novel by Linda Kelsey, ex Editor of Cosmopolitan and She. Chronicling twelve months in the life of Hope Lyndhurst Steele, the year she turns fifty, it is a funny, wise, touching look at all the issues closest to our hearts: parents, children, partners, friends, work. It's what Allison Pearson might well be writing 10 years on ...

Notice submitted by Sue Fletcher on Tuesday 20 June 2006


Good news but mustn't get too excited. It takes a while for these things to filter through & there's a danger of being too early. All the same have sent off a query letter to Jonny G.

Big Push on now to have some sort of completed MS by the end of next week. Worked on Saturday, to make up for Friday's non-day, and have blocked out to end. Still plenty to do, but at least it's in sight.

Bye bye, thanks for visiting, come again soon.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Conf 214: Sad

No. of words: same

First Anniversary of the London bombings. The weather is strange. We're still in a heatwave but it's all low and dark out there with steamy skies. Just returned from Waitrose shop, everyone seems subdued and preoccupied, I know I am.

I have given up trying to write today. Sometimes it's just too self-centred and trivial. Debi Alper has flagged up important information about a Yahoo boycott. This makes it a double heartache day. The very first short story I wrote back in 1995 was about freedom of speech and the internet in China. There we go again, me me me.

The college event was good. Very well organised, in the hall where my first short story prize was read out. Not about China that one but about holes in the middle of doughnuts. And there we were to listen to the 3 winners of this year's prize and they were so outstandingly good. Brilliant brilliant. Made me nostalgic for the time when I just wrote for the pleasure of it. I helped judge so I knew 2 of the stories. But hearing them read out afresh was wonderful. I managed the on stage bit OK, apparently, according to feedback. Me me me, sorry, have to stop now.

Bye bye, thanks for visiting, come again soon.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Conf 213: Showtime

No of words: 67,021

No way is this the final draft now, but am getting it shaped up and closer to The End. Will take a printed MS on hols to work on.

Tonight I'm at my old writing college talking about my experiences as a published novelist. First public appearance for quite a while. Am I nervous? Well, no. As I've mentioned before I was so utterly shaking and in a state about my first book launch that for the second launch my homeopathic doctor cousin whizzed over and did EFT on me. And it worked, and it's permanent, or so it seems right now. Amazing.

I'm with 3 other authors. Two are in the 6 figure advance club and the other just had his first novel filmed as a TV drama. So I guess I represent the reality side of things. Ho hum.

Bye bye, thanks for visiting, come again soon.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Conf 212: Contacts

No. of words: 62,967

Good start to the day - I SHALL be getting my ya ya's out! Won the residents' ballot for discounted tickets to the Stones gig at the stadium. I won't be the poor person lurking outside in Tesco carpark snatching a listen.

To the book launch yesterday of my self-published friend. Caught up with lots of old friends; excellent reading and was flattered to be mentioned in his thank-you speech. As I've already mentioned he's been getting loads of press, radio, TV without any professional PR involvement, just because it's an amazing story. Met the journalist who kicked it all off by getting him a page in the Telegraph. She really seemed to love my novel idea, gave me her card and said to get in touch when it was out.

Paperback Writer
has just announced her awards for best writing tips. My favourite was from
Tamith, who said...

One of the best writing tips was one I got off Orson Scott Card's site. It was about the importance of not consciously trying to force a theme:

"...That's why, when you really love a book, it makes you think about important ideas and issues and fresh and powerful ways. It isn't because the writer planned it that way. It's because the writer let his unconscious mind have a lot of chances to control elements of the story. It's because the writer got out of the way and let the truth of his heart dominate the opinions in his mind."


Bye bye, thanks for visiting, come again soon.