Tuesday, November 27, 2007

CONF 509: OF MICE AND MICE

Rewrite progress: Good. Week 4 Chapter 8

Am under the illusion of having cracked the difficult new chapter 2. Whether it'll be good enough when I return for the final readthrough is another matter. But there, it's gone, saved away in a brand new file called Completed Chapters. That way I won't be tempted to rewrite every time I settle down to work. Storming ahead now with Chapter 8.

Posts are few and far between because STILL not online at home. Have bought the wireless gizmo but haven't got it working yet. Has led to those unique computer-fed rages of frustration. Am back in good old Cafe Costa in Teddington this morning, with free wireless and plug thrown in. Starbucks is no good at all, loud music, £5 an hour, which they expect you to sign up for with a credit card. Am enjoying the laptop though. A writing friend strongly advised me to buy a separate mouse and not to use the finger-pad thingy. After only a few days I was getting RSI symptoms, not surprising really as rewriting involves so much scrolling around and cutting and pasting. So I bought myself a lovely mouse. All fine, except daughter unplugged it at home and lost it. Searched high, low, all over the flat (still covered in moving-in boxes and piles of unpacked, unsorted bits everywhere), went into the kitchen and there, on top of the rubbish bin, was a mouse. A real one with fur and all. I did the mouse shriek and family thought I'd found the computer-type mouse. It was sweet, a little brown Borrowers creature. We've now bought a sonic noise thingy which hopefully will keep it, them, away. Partner told the other residents in the house, nobody else has seen any. Wonder if Celebrity Author next door is getting them? Perhaps we should knock on her door and give her a neighbourly warning? Or put a note through her letterbox. Except the houses don't have such things, the security guard gets all the mail and delivers it himself.

Really, it's just as well I don't have internet, have been having a lovely time here catching up but it's not getting the writing done. Am looking forward sometime to reading through this revamped writing site, flagged up by the author of this lovely writing blog.


Bye bye, thanks for visiting, come again soon.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

CONF 508: FAREWELL THEN, CHAPTER 2

Rewrite: Week 3 day 3
Chapter: New 2

Chapter 2 has gone. Chapter 2, which I have worked over and over and over on, it being inside the 1st 3 chapters that were sent out to agents. Chapter 2 which has been rewritten dozens of times and refined and refined, now is no more. It's main purpose was to set up a situation that isn't there any more, so it really did have to go.

Am on new Chapter Two now. That's not as bad as it sounds. I hope. I have been through whole thing, deleting lots and clumsily inserting what needs to be inserted. This was done with the idea that I'd get more of an overall feel for the story before starting from the beginning again. I am not so sure. It may all be too rubbish. Brrrr.

Bye bye, thanks for visiting, come again soon.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

TED'S HANDY WRITING TIPS 1

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Swift is the only stylist. The excellence of any other writer is in some peculiar charm or some private strength of which the wielding is enviable but secret by nature of its being so private, original or unusual. Swift's excellence is a talent for clarity simplicity and power. His inimitable peculairities are in choice of subject, or tone, but his writing is the bed-rock from which every writer must start. It is the norm of the language, and you can't go wrong to imitate it; it is the restrained side of every private peculiarity. Copying other writers leads people into all manner of blunders in taste, because they mimic those mannerisms for which they have no innate propensity themselves. Copying Swift's peculiarities can only refine the fundamental qualities of literature, clarity, precision, conciseness and power, of which everyone contains the original capacity. [...]

Most important is to be able to ener a word like a continent. Meditate on the individual words, then you'll use them by an act of imagination, and with effective power, not merely flip them out of a jargon memory in a conventionalised encompassing of a flavoured thought. Then, as often as you can, just write. Swift's one of those writers I wish I had by heart - next to Shakespeare and Chaucer and before all others. Get a paragraph you like learn it and often repeat it, and you'd be amazed how you can energise whatever you write just by conscious reference of tone or use to that one charge. Forget subtlety, and the ephemeral fringe of sensation, or organised thought and co-ordinated important use of words will forget you.

To my sister on her beginning her literary career.

Ted Hughes to Olwyn Hughes, 1952
Letters of Ted Hughes
Selected and edited by Christopher Reid

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

CONF 507: ANOTHER DAY ANOTHER CAFF

Rewrite: Week 2, day 3.

Chapters rewritten: 1


Am getting the hang of this camping out now. Don't want to stretch my welcome anywhere so am in a different caff today, Cafe Costa which has free internet and 2 plugs! My writing friend K's discovery, it's against the rush hour traffic so a good place to come first thing. There can be a bit of a scrabble for the plugs with the freelancers sometimes, but I seem to be the only laptopper in at the moment. Very noisy now but more with chatter than music which is writeable with. There are 2 men at next table having a business meeting, and 2 mums at the table behind.

Did you hear Russell Brand on Chris Moyles this morning? They were talking about writing their bookywooks & how it's like working into a void, with no feedback, no applause. Chris said it was like going home to grown-up homework every day.

Slowly getting into it. Chapter 1 has been rewritten and now on to Chapter 2 - the bit I've been dreading where the real swaparound business starts. Back to it.. eurrf...

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

CONF 506: GOOD BUSINESS NEWS

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Email in from agent, an acknowledgement to mine saying she's looking forward to seeing the completed novel in new year. A little thing you may think but so big in this fragile world of writing into the deal-less void.

I haven't gone back to work yet and my Tax Credit has stopped whilst it's readjusted to take into account my co-habitingness. So it's a bit scary. But I'm not at home, I'm a camping out in friends' kitchens person & not much I can do about that until daughter has mastered the bus/tube/bus trip. There's no internet connection on my computer at home anyway and I've a novel to finish. So part of me thinks I go all out until Christmas and keep writing and doing nothing else. But I don't want to lose the work contact altogether in case novel never sells. Also newspaper work is in backlog as I wait to get my computer connected. Have done some of that at weekend on partner's computer, but blargh and blah, well, yes, all of that.

Other main good news is lots of cheers, flagwavings and baskings in reflected glory as L from my writing group has a lovely interview in today's Guardian.

Bye bye, thanks for visiting, come again soon.

Monday, November 12, 2007

CONF 505: WIRELESSNESSNESS

No. of rewrite days: Week 2, Day 1

No of chapters rewritten: 0



Am still laptop Lil, but am now settled in my friend K's kitchen, pinching her bread, teabags and marmite and stopping every so often, well once a day, to walk the dog. Am very confused by this wireless business.

It doesn't feel as if I've got very far, am still inserting blocks of plot outline into the text, but keep coming across lumps of text that need serious rewriting. So I do that, which I shouldn't really, because some of those chunks are going to be deleted anyway. This week I want to get the map all onto one document so am trying to resist that and surge forwards. Am probably two-thirds there. This could be good, or it could just be avoiding the inevitable big chunk of rewrite close to the beginning.

A quiet weekend, settling into the flat, recharging energy & welcoming visitors in for cups of tea. Ted Hughes' Letters has arrived from Amazon (a half price, free postage bargain I couldn't resist). Have been a bit obsessed by him this past year. Though I did think on Saturday morning, as I opened my pristine, silky hardback, WHY am I reading this when there are so many poems still to be read? Reading early letters leaves a bit of an eavesdrop flavour in the mouth, obsessed as he was by money, or the letters chosen anyhow, so much in the editing, you're just so aware they weren't written to be published and read by gazillions. All the more fascinating though, and some fantastic writing advice already. I love the way he describes how he goes out for walks and then sits somewhere wild to read. Slowly, slowly the creatures come out around him. We saw 2 foxes this morning, one beside the garden square, the other crossing the Earl's Court Road at the traffic lights. Daughter commented on his traffic sense.

Bye bye, thanks for visiting, come again soon.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

CONF 504: BACK IN THE CAFF

Rewrite day: 2

No. of chapters rewritten: 0



Well, that's because I'm still getting myself organised. I am twiddling between 3 documents, the novel draft, the new plot outline summary and the Outtakes pages where I dump chapters and scenes no longer required. But then I have to go through them to dig out bits I still might want, which I put at the top of the plot outline summary doc. So far so good, the novel as it stands is very flabby, lots can go, lots to be tightened.


Am back in the caff. I was still logged in to their wireless so after a little kerfuffle with the nice owner man with me asking for un-needed passwords I was away. He then brought me my tea and a bacon sarnie, which won't become a habit it won't. I'm still too shy to use the plug. Some mums and kids have just come in and taken over the sofas right opposite me. Oh how I could have used this when I was writing my yummy mummy novels. As it is I'm finding the kids annoying. Which is annoying. However, onwards and onwards.



Bye bye, thanks for visiting, come again soon.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

CONF 503: ON THE ROAD

We are In. Still surrounded by cardboard boxes & still recovering from the landlord checkout of the house. They sent a relative to do it, a sour Saudi woman who tried to pick holes in everything. It was extremely stressful. Have complained to the estate agents, broke down in tears actually merely remembering it all, which was embarrassing. However the flat is fantastic and the location incredible. Feels like I must have won the lottery or bagged a mega book deal. Beautiful windows and friendly neighbours. So far have met the professor and his boyfriend, the actor and the theatre director. The security guard (who sits in a little coach house thingy in front of our flat) has let us put our pushbikes in the underground carpark (£250,000 a shot for a parking space!). The Author was In Residence when we arrived but didn't see her.

I am writing this on my laptop in a caff! I have big mug of tea, a table with a plug next to me I'm not sure I'm allowed to use or not. This is my second attempt. Yesterday I went to Starbucks and couldn't log on, didn't realise you had to buy a password voucher. Today I'm in a little caff that has an 'Internet Connection' sign on the door and a friendly man who grills bacon and brings me tea. I'm supposed to be writing. First day of rewriting day. The first novel writing session since early summer. I'm not in the flat because the flat is in Kensington, and daughter's school is in Twickenham, as is this caff. There's no point in going back in heavy traffic, no point in going back most days. Eventually she'll be able to do a bus/tube/bus run, but to start off this is how it'll be, soon I'll go to a friend's house nearby and walk their dog and write some more. More? Starting is scary.

Bye bye, thanks for visiting, come again soon.