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Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Catching Up!

Well, first of all, my apologies for promising to post more often this year and then not doing so at all throughout January. At least I'm fitting this in before we move into the second month.

My reason is that I have been fierce with myself about finishing the novel and haven't left any space in my head for thinking about much else, apart from as many short stories as I can squeeze in. Today I completed a very, very rough first draft of almost 80,000 words. I have tried to print it out for a read-through, but our new kitten jumped on the paper-tray and triggered a jam. So it's stuck in there until Husband's return later. Is Fate trying to tell me something ?

I can't say I feel pleased with the novel at this stage and I'm not sure whether that's a good thing, in that I'm aware I have tons more work to do and shouldn't assume it's anywhere near finished, or a bad thing - ie, it's awful.
I won't mind if it's awful. Well, I will, of course, but I'll try not to. I've enjoyed the experience and will have gained a lot from it. I haven't completely neglected the short stories and can't wait to devote some extra time to them now. I could use this novel as a springboard for the next one, for which I have an idea already, taking with me all that I have learnt.

So, what have I learnt? I think the most important thing is that I needed a bit more of a plot than I actually had. What I had was an idea. I expanded as I went along, but floundered at times, which made me feel a touch insecure about the whole thing, like a gymnast's major wobble on the balance beam. Next time, I would write down a few more notes first to check that I really did have a clear plot that would engage me throughout and therefore engage the reader too. I know I can iron out some of the kinks to steady things, but I don't know whether that will be enough to save it.
I have also learnt that if I put my mind to it, I can write more words than I thought I could. If I take an hour at a time and determine to write for that whole hour without being distracted, I really concentrate, lose myself in it and the writing flows as a result. I can always lose myself in short story writing, but I've had to try harder to focus for three months on this one piece of work. I'm too used to leaving characters behind after a few days, so it's strange living with them all the time. And I worry that if I'm tiring of them, the reader will feel the same. I hope that when I read through it, they will seem fresher. I think I should leave the read-through for a couple of weeks and come back to them when I've had a chance to distance myself. And to retrieve the scrunched paper from the printer.

At the moment I can't help mulling over the bits I think are good and wondering if I should turn them into short stories!

I am reading Della Galton's Moving On From Short Story To Novel, but should have done so before I began! However, I'm sure it will be very helpful as I continue to revise what I have written.

I have recently become addicted to Dorothy Whipple's books, both short stories and novels. I loved Someone At A Distance. I think her writing is beautiful. I know some readers might consider it a little old-fashioned, but I can't help loving that.
And I enjoyed Aimee Bender's The Particular Sadness Of Lemon Cake. Unusual and moving.
As always, the more I read, the more inspired to write I feel. I have had some good competition results and more sales recently. I put that down to all the extra reading I have been fitting in, often at 4am. I keep waking up at that time, so I've put it to good use!