Tuesday, January 29, 2008

CONF 521: THE MUSHY MIDDLE

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A day away from the rewrite yesterday to catch up with the journalism side.

Back to it today. Have reached the mushy middle. The bit I sneakily avoided last draft round when I decided it'd be a good idea to get the final chapters fine-tuned. I've also had to incorporate all those scenes I wrote by hand, so big chunks of dialogue have been clumsily dropped in and it's a right mess.

I did a scene summary in the newly-discovered Word Notebook Layout (great for novel notes - it's under View), then scribbled over that with the Word Scribble tool (not that I've been procrastinating or anything like that). Then I lowered the text font to save paper, tried for ages to find out how to get it into book page layout, gave up on that, printed out 40 pages and scribbled all over those. Now I'm back to cut and paste to my scribbled design. It will still read in the rubbish state but at least it'll be in order, or roughly in order. So much for my finish by the end of the week brags. A couple of weeks at least methinks. And why should agent be prioritising me when she knows it's not finished, when I told her it was a few weeks off yet. So at least I've stopped waiting on that one & am just going to get the thing done.

Bye bye, thanks for visiting, come again soon.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

CONF 520: AMUSING MYSELF

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Bought some new trainers last weekend, went for a run in the park and ended up limping around for the rest of the week. After nags from a girlfriend about how bad it is for ancient people like me to run, esp on hard ground, I have gone back to walking. Thoreau used to walk for 4 hours a day, or saunter, as he preferred to call it, taking (famously exquisite) detailed notes on nature as he went. When I first heard that I took myself off on a 4-hour saunt to see what I could see. After 2 hours I found myself inside 1 London. Had driven past I don't know how many times without knowing it was there. It was virtually empty and a cheering little discovery. The day meant something and I still remember it more than 20 years later.

Living with a depressed person means I have no social life at the moment. I am going to try and get a few saunts in every week, 4 2 hour ones would be 8 hours walking a week. Flab needs fighting, can't be at computer 24/7 & I might make some discoveries I wouldn't if I was huffing and puffing around the park.

Yesterday daughter had friend staying so off I went on Saunt 1:

Plan: Walk to Harvey Nicks last day of sale, 90% off temptations.
Supplies: Moneybelt with Oyster card, Mastercard, two pound coins and a tissue.

Through back streets, outside Horrids in half an hour, onwards to Harvey Nicks. Shunning speedlift, climbed up to the Fifth Floor restaurant and food emporium via the stairs. Empty and isolated stairwell, wondered if anybody had ever been there before. Staggered into uber cool restaurant Father-Ted-like, red-faced and gasping for air. Sitting on stools at the bar, 2 ice-smart blonde women in white shirts and waistcoats having a chatty breakfast. Was going to make my way down the escalators slowly, seeing if anything with 90% off was of any interest. A non-Primark-like T-shirt perhaps for £20 instead of £200 or something. That the only ones left at this time would be bright orange with gold lettering etc was certain, but this was just a walk, it didn't matter, & a bit of stroking of non-sale Westwood, Miyake would cheer the soul (why is it non-sale stuff always looks so exquisite at this time of year?). But the escalators were all caged off, and the foodie bit too. Though the caff was open, the rest of the shop didn't open till noon. So back down I went, in the speed lift this time.

Took a no. 9 home & popped into lovely Luscious for a loaf of bread. Overheard a man ordering wheatgrass. My cousin was raving about this recently & I've looked for it but wasn't sure what I was looking for, like in a bottle? or grass in a bag? Or in a smoothie? Nothing about it on their blackboard. Could have asked, but it was more a back of mind thing. Anyhow, daughter (a Best of Both type at the best of times) raved about the oat bread & later in the day I took family back there for soup and wheatgrass shots. The shots comes in little cups, like a green espresso & taste of grasscuttings. An espresso-like buzz & very healthy-feeling.


Saunt No. 1 Results:

Wheatgrass shots
Oat Bread
Getting family out of house, I mean flat.


Bye bye, thanks for visiting, come again soon.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

CONF 518: MY FUTURE IS REVEALED or WHY ASTROLOGY IS A LOAD OF ****

Virgo: Over the past months, there's been talk of exciting ideas or offers, but not much has come of it.... Monday's stunning aspect between Jupiter and Saturn, which is in your sign, not only brings many of these to fruition, but ushers in several unexpected opportunities, too. .....a lot of those decisions will be made for you.....rarely has anybody been so well positioned to benefit from even unsettling developments, as the events of the coming weeks amply illustrate....

What this week has consisted of so far: sick hamster, tax returns, dentists, exchange of insults with white van man, orthodontist, inability to park at orthodontist's, dog poo, high tides, British Gas, very sick hamster, inability to write much.. inabilty to write anything..... hamster probably dead by now.

Bye bye, thanks for visiting, come again soon.




Tuesday, January 22, 2008

CONF 517: TRYING NOT TO WAIT

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Have successfully managed to be out of wait mode recently but this morning, sitting in traffic jam on the A316, dropped right back into it. Ten days now, at least. Moments in agent-time but decades in waiting-author-time. I'm used to it and know all the default thoughts, it's pointless to speculate on either good or bad. This feeling never changes. It doesn't stop when you get an agent to take you on. It doesn't stop when you get a publisher to take you on. It doesn't stop when the book appears in the shops. It doesn't stop with book 2. Or book 3 or book 4. There are always going to be agonising waits be it for agent, editor, reviewer or reader. The reward has got to come from doing it no matter where you are in the food chain. To have the thing completed will be a great feeling in itself. And I know that if, for some reason, the response isn't good, I can go to a new agent. But I've found the agent I want and really hate all this having to think the worst.

Several more chapters have been added to the Novel Completed file and am on Chapter 21. With a little luck and some serious internet avoidance tactics (have you seen Property Snake?)I could be looking at the final chapters by the end of this week.

Daughter has mastered the bus/tube/bus combo and can now make her own way home. My days cruising the caffs and friends' kitchens are numbered. This is just as well as I will have to get back to work work soon. I'm writing this in the car (hotspot savvy laptopper that I am these days). I will continue taking daughter to school because I can't begin to imagine her getting herself together on her own and at least she gets breakfast in the car. The plan is to write here for an hour or so until the traffic back home into London has thinned out. Journey takes half an hour then instead of an hour. When the new novel starts it'll be 1,000 words in the driving seat (in my dreams speed-writing first draft in that half an hour slot) and then home for the rest of the day and work work - well that's the plan anyhow.

Bye bye, thanks for visiting, come again soon.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

CONF 516: THE POETRY & WHISKY ROUTE

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Very many thanks for your good wishes, Anne, Liz and Anon, much appreciated. We've decided to keep on trying without the chemicals (xoDeb), having gotten so far. Thanks to Bach's flower remedies, Waitrose dim sum and white chocolate ice cream, poetry, hyacinths, alcohol & occasional good telly, the evenings are fine. The mornings are the worst. So much has been going on, other majorly things as well, it seems best to try and give nature a bit more time to correct itself. It's so obviously chemicals in the brain not working as they should.

I finally bought myself a 2gb memory stick yesterday & am lurking here at the computer whilst all my files transfer. Woops, just realised it will take 6 hours. Will continue to back the novel up with e-mail in case the stick breaks (happened to a friend's daughter only last week, she lost her essay).

This afternoon we're going to see Anthony McCall at the Serpentine Gallery. Just a short drive away and parking outside so hopefully a do-able outing.

Bye bye, thanks for visiting, come again soon.

Friday, January 18, 2008

CONF 514: FINISHED

Not the novel, sadly.

I expect 99% of Londoners are feeling glum today. It's one of those low-skied rainy days here without any light in it whatsoever. This, after yesterday evening's electric blue skies and lightening streaks. No news from agent, but that's really very low down the priority list. The writing is all I talk about here. I prefer to keep the goings on of my own life away from the internet, mainly for the benefit of others who are involved in it who don't wish to see themselves written up in a public diary. But the events of the past few months are catching up with me. You know those charts that list the moments in life when you're most susceptible to stress? In my house we've had them all: partner's serious illness - cancer and chemotherapy meant no work and threat of bankruptcy. The prognosis was initially very bad (liver) but this turned out to be a mistake (!) - handy hint - if ever diagnosed with liver cancer, have a separate scan in a different hospital. (In our case this was done by accident as, under the medical insurance, a choice of treatment centres were offered and we decided to switch to make the journeys for chemo easier). This all led to post-chemo clinical depression, sprinkled with scary moments where I was paying the rent and rates by Mastercard, to moving from house to one bed flat and getting rid of most of my possessions (Buddhist religion recommended) and the death of my mother (Christian religion ditto). I'm one of those survivor types and have many blessings, fantastic family and unbelievably wonderful friends, my own health, etc etc but coping with someone else's depression is the pits. The post-chemo scan showed the treatment had been successful, the financial problems have miraculously disappeared thanks to a very unexpected injection of cash, and the one bedroom flat is big and gorgeous and in one of the most beautiful parts of one of the most beautiful cities in the world. But coping with someone else's depression - whoooo arrr. Thing is, it's starting to affect me now, so to stop us all going under, it's time to obey the doctors and take the chemical cure. Let's hope it works.

Bye bye, thanks for visiting, come again soon.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

INTERVAL CONT.

An interesting fact:

There are approximately 10,000 trillion ants in the world. One ant weighs 1 millionth of 1 human. There are approximately 6.6 billion humans in the world. The total weight of ants is therefore quite a lot more than the total weight of humans.

Edward O Wilson

Saturday, January 12, 2008

INTERVAL CONT.

Did you see Extreme Pilgrim last night? C of E vicar Peter Owen-Jones visiting India's holy men? Best documentary I've seen in ages and 6 days left to watch.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

THE WAIT BEGINS

There will now be a short interlude.



Bye bye, thanks for visiting, I hope it won't be too long.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

CONF 513: THAT'S ENOUGH TUNING, ED

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Final bits of fine-tuning now complete and the early chapters are ready to send again. I think I'll print and post rather than e-mail, with an e-mail note to say they're on their way.

One thing that bothered me. Do I have too many sentences starting with she? When I get to this final draft stage I sometimes find myself picking up books at home and opening them at a random page just to look at the 'he said,' 'she said' options. Last night I went for Anne Tyler's The Amateur Marriage (I love her style) and opened randomly at p187/8: She rose early... She changed into... She combed her hair... She headed down the hall... She went through the dining room foyer... She picked it up.... Another I've been looking at is Graham Greene short stories, he does it too. So it doesn't matter, hn. Time to Send.

Bye bye, thanks for visiting, come again soon.

Monday, January 07, 2008

CONF 512: BACK TO THE BEGINNING AGAIN

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'Getting published is like farting at a party.'
Philip Larkin

'I try to preserve in myself a feeling as a writer that I had when I started writing; that is, anonymity, obscurity and a feeling of newness about what you're doing. Before I ever wrote a book no one was waiting for me to write a book, no one cared if I wrote a book; I was just interested in doing it. And that's how I always want to feel when I write. After you publish you're supposedly a professional, you have an editor who's waiting for your next book, an audience - all these things attach themselves, too, and if you're going to be professional you have to deal with that, but it's not what you want to think about when you're writing, and it's easier to do that outside New York.'

Jeffrey Eugenides (on leaving New York in 1999 to live in Berlin)
talking to Mick Brown, Daily Telegraph, 5.1.07

Oh for the luxury, but I do know what he means. When I got an agent, and an editor and all the rest, it was a fantastic boost. Seeing my books in the shops obviously made me feel more like a writer than I did before. I had more confidence in myself and belief that I could get down to and complete the second novel. But there was also a time limit, and the sorry fact that my (very bright and experienced) agent didn't like it. Writing in the knowledge that it's going to be out there and read does give a more self-conscious edge to things. I don't publish under my own name, I don't write here under my own name, I'm a bit of an anonymity freak. I think writing novels has something to do with telling the truth through lying, as much as making TV docs was full of tricks and literal (film-making) untruths in order to convey the truth. If I'm not being myself I find that easier to do. Somehow I manage to kid myself I'm someone else telling the story, which gives me more freedom.

These days there's only one day of the year when I feel like a professional writer, and that's PLR day. The day the Public Lending Right people let you know how many times your books have been borrowed from public libraries and how much you are to be paid. It's truly astonishing to discover that my novels still have some kind of life out there.

Novel 1 (pub. mass market paperback 2003, current Amazon ranking 125,307)
3430 loans £205.11

Novel 2 (pub. mass market paperback 2004, current Amazon ranking 420,328)
4221 loans £252.42

Non-fiction 1 (plugged in newspaper several times a month, no royalties commission, current Amazon, 211,696)
844 loans £50.47

Non-fiction 2 (stupendously obscure, no royalties commission, current Amazon 1,638,146)
1770 loans £105.85

That'll buy me a few weeks rewrite time.

I have always loved libraries and librarians (esp when a BBC researcher) & have been really happy to rediscover my new local Kensington & Chelsea branch is as I left it a decade or so ago. We are lucky, other parts of the country aren't so. See Susan Hill's blog, January 2nd.

Now must get back to novel 3 rewrite, overdue. I don't have a contract, just interested parties, so it's better to get it absolutely right now. Hah. It's the third day of the post-Christmas rewrite and I am not getting very far. There's still the novelty of being online, re-joining Facebook, catching up on this blog, emails etc. Am also back at the beginning again. I went there to insert the new thoughts I'd had whilst doing all the 'by hand' writing when the laptop was being fixed. Chapter 1 was OK but I found Chapter 2 needed lots of fixing....

Bye bye, thanks for visiting, come again soon.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

511 POSTS AND STILL WITHOUT A PUBLISHER

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Hey ho and Happy New Year to all fellow struggling writers everywhere.

Didn't make the rewrite completion deadline, needless to say. Should have saved text on memory stick. Should have downloaded to an online savings bank. It's there, the Final Version so far. I haven't lost it, but it's as an e-mail attachment and on a CD, neither of which I can see, textwise, or hold in my hand, paperwise. Am scared of opening the email attachment until I'm ready to save it somewhere in case I blow it.

My broadband connection finally goes on at midnight tonight. Tomorrow evening will be spent in a frazzle trying to get wireless to work. My last attempt (with partner's BT) was briefly distracted by neighbouring (seeringly successful) author's name next to mine in my Apple Airport settings. 'Look,' I squealed to family, 'She's here in my computer, Her name next to mine!' And they rushed over and we all stared at it in awe for a few seconds.

I'd still like to completely finish my own little book before sending the opening chapters again, even though they're now rewritten, but I'll see how I go. I need to go back to work work properly very soon as the coffers are low. Am still driving to school & roving the streets & my friends' toast and marmite supplies till it's time to come home again. Which means I can't. But soon will have to put daughter on the bus/train/bus regime in the mornings and it'll be Back to Work for real. Unless I get a deal. It seems so unlikely, even though I've now got a brilliant agent showing interest... Too much time from then has passed & for all I know... no NO negatives. It's just you get so used to expecting the worst.

Bye bye, thanks for visiting, come again soon.