Finished my novel- What I have learnt- Part two

So it took more than three years to write my book. The first year I was naive and churned out a draft. But then I picked up great tricks from other writers….and did a redraft. I learnt how to write description better, improve the plot and make it gripping. I learnt more about simplifying characters and developing them. I learnt about having the much talked about show vs tell balance just right. I inserted more of the lead character’s thoughts into the book. I slashed away irrelevant things to the story.

This work was a case of redraft after redraft after redraft. A writer friend of mine described the redrafting process like polishing a turd. It can get like that. I was dedicated and fixated on getting the book finished. Ironically the more fixated I was on finishing it, the longer it was taking. I found I got better creative ideas to re-write things and perhaps I had just watched a film or read a book that gave me another new idea.

I recall on a birthday trip to Berlin with my husband. My husband surprised me with a lovely kirsch seventies hotel room which had a four poster canopy head in one corner with a flashing heart light over it. I was delighted and amused with it as well as discovering a desk in an adjoining room. My husband groaned as he knew I would spend a portion of our trip holed up in the corner, busy tapping away on the laptop. I did just this as I looked out onto the busy Berlin streets and I was not totally happy about it either. I was becoming one of those obsessed writers. We still enjoyed Berlin but looking back, perhaps I should have totally switched off and wrote when I returned. I am delighted to say I did finish the draft of the book I was working on at the time so I was feeling proud of myself on the return trip home to London.

However who was to know I would still spend another year working on this draft. I was not writing full time and was doing other other things but I did spend substantial chunks of my life writing. Sometimes  I did not meet friends so I could write. I did not retire with my husband snuggled up on the sofa to watch movies with him in the evenings so I could write instead. Usually I was on the desk next door or cuddled up in bed, tapping away. On weekends and weekdays when I was free, I spent long afternoons and evenings in coffee shops so I could write.

Sometimes I hated the writing. I hated reading and working on something I had first written a few years back. My mind was craving new projects now. Sometimes I hated the attention to details aspect which writing sometimes requires. Sometimes I wished my book was not 300 pages long so it would be easier to whizz through for a read through.

Don’t get me wrong, there were some great times when I wrote. When ideas flowed out of me, when the way the plot or characters should flow became clear. Sometimes hours passed by in a coffee shop and I was not sure where the time went. I was happy until I reminded myself how much more I still had to do. This writers is not a good thing to do! Enjoy the present moment without telling yourself how long the road really is.

Anyway its Dec 2014, I am waiting to see what my copy editor will throw at me after reading this so called final draft, but the light is at the end of tunnel….that is until next redraft, sending it off to publishers, (and jumping all their hoops!)

Sorry am I sounding really negative and hacked off….I am not, Just letting off steam and damn you Cecilia Aherne who said in her interview it took her 4 days to write a book! Liar.



Finished my novel – What I have learnt- Part one

I have been writing my novel since 2011. Do you know I started writing it two weeks before I was due to get married? It was the gorgeous month of april (it actually was a sunny hot april-perhaps the weather gods forgot it was cold UK for a change). A recent interview by Cecilia Aherne stood out in my mind. Now she said she had the idea to write a book and it took her from starting the book on Tuesday and finishing it on Saturday morning in the same WEEK! I calculated that was 4 days. So of course I thought if she can churn one out in 4 days so can I! What a big mistake in my case! (FYI I have never read her books though I did see one of films that was based on her books) and I am also not sure I write anything like her.

I had an idea for a story and I was going to use a lot of real life anecdotes which my mind calculated meant would require even less brain power as I would not even have to sweat it out and make it up and use the old imagination.

How foolish I was! I am coming to the end of 2014 and am only wrapping this book up now! I am older and wiser than my original naive self. Yes I did get out a draft within 6 weeks working on it on and off. However my original draft was 44 pages long. It is now novel length at 320 pages. Whilst I wrote this novel I learnt about writing as I went along. I bought books from amazon on how to write, I dug out old notes from a creative writing course I did back in 2005. To spur me on, I remembered praise that was given to me by a writing teacher to write. I also started to read. I actually have not been a big reader since school. My life after school were spent in education, my job and traveling and social life.  So I made it a point to read a lot of books. I must have read about 60 books from a variety of authors and genres whilst I wrote. Reading alone can easily take up a few years of your life. However it was invaluable to see how the masters, like Mary Shelley wrote to contemporary writers to Kathryn Stockett’s “The Help” to books like White Tiger.