Okay, this one might get a little bit over thought. I was going to sit down and bullet point this entire entry out but I was going through the stages of denial in the space of about ten minutes whilst trying to eat my lunch today. It’s probably going to be a winged out chain of thought. It might also sound really like I’m complaining but that ain’t really the case.
I was in the queue for my lunch today having decided to escape work for a while. Whilst waiting for coffee my phone buzzed in my pocket having finally decided it was in a place where the internet existed. An envelope icon appeared in screen from the Yahoo app so I flicked it open.
Email confirmation had arrived, I didn’t get onto the Dumfries and Galloway Mentorship scheme this year.
As a result I was mentally spun out for a good few hours this afternoon. Which is great when your work involves being welcoming for members of the public. If I could have just gone and sat under a table somewhere I would have. As it stood I processed contact lens orders instead. At least that was constructive.
At first I was angry, the certain feeling of ‘How bloody dare they!’ flooded in. I put a fair chunk of time and effort into the application and genuinely had a battle with myself to shut up the inner voice saying it wasn’t going to be worth it anyway. I hadn’t sent the documents off after giving up and saying ‘It’ll do’. I’d tweaked them and edited them to give me the best shot I could possibly make.
Then I calmed down and started to think about things a little bit clearer. Also, I’d had something to eat by this time which probably helped.
Would getting onto this scheme have been essential to getting this book done? Not really, it would have been nice and been small justification for spending this long on the thing over the last eighteen months but it’s not as if getting onto this was the cornerstone.
Does it alter the overall aim? Not in the slightest.
They overriding thing it took me so long to shift today was the fact that this was the first time that a section of the book had been read by somebody else bar me and it had been found lacking. This thought was still battering me around my head as I was driving home this evening. To turn this around into something of a positive I had to tell myself that I’m only on draft two. This book will get better and I’m damned sure I have the ability to do that. It’s a slow process which there ain’t a shortcut for but it is getting there. It’s a process which is happening right now.
By the time I’d pulled into my front drive I had pulled the positive out of it. It’s going to get done some way or another regardless of any setbacks along the road.
Was I not writing the other day about not getting bogged down in writing new chapters from scratch during this first rewrite? What have I spent most of today doing?
Indeed dear reader, I’ve been doing a new chapter.
Well it’s not completely new, it’s the second half of the chapter I split up the other day. It’s the first major description of the alien being (who still had the tree references remaining until I removed them today) and as a result of this being half a previous chapter it didn’t feel anywhere near long enough so I’ve been adding bits to it with descriptions of his body and voice. When we meet him here his body is beat up after a crash landing and he’s breaking apart on the beach. It’s fine though, he’s about to get a brand new one.
Occasionally it’s a matter of working outwards from what I’ve got and I got really into this one today so stuck with it. Anything else I’m going to come back to later has a red font running through it. Currently the draft looks like something I had in school as a result.
I’m waffling now and it’s getting late.
I’m kind of worried that I’m not ripping out massive chunks of the book during the second rewrite so far. Originally I was thinking I’d be hacking great stacks out and rewiring the whole thing almost from the ground up. Whilst I have been deleting paragraphs and putting some new ones in (and spent a whole evening rewriting the entire prologue) it doesn’t feel like major surgery yet.
This isn’t to say I’m of the opinion that what I’ve got so far if fantastic. I think it’s rather a case of just needing to get the order of the story correct so far and then layer it from there. This will probably take a hell of a lot of layers though.
Either way there’s something like a book slowly emerging here.
I managed to get started fairly early today (and by early I mean around 9am as opposed to the usual ‘just after lunch’). It means I’ve got another chapter down for the second version. I did indeed skip writing the newer one for now so that progress won’t be held up.
There are still bits that appeared later on in the first draft that I’m now trying to retroactively add the beginnings of in the earlier parts of this one. It’s smoothing the whole story out a bit more.
I’d actually had a fair chunk done before I ended up going up the street for a bacon baguette from the cafe. It was probably the best one I’ve had for a while.
I got to a point when I needed a brand new chapter. In the previous draft my alen was kept secret, hidden away in the shadows until about 60-70% of the way through when he revealed himself. It makes far more sense to have him pop up earlier though so his story has a bit more time to bed in as the book goes on. So it means writing a whole new chapter five from scratch as Pilot recovers from his crash landing on Earth.
But the problem became that I was stuck writing this new part and not getting on with rewriting all the other part I had to place in somewhere. The best feeling when rewriting is taking whole wads of text from the older version, cutting, pasting and then seeing the word count bump up another three thousand in seconds. There’s nowhere near as much staring at blank pages going on. It’s a bit of a downward bump to come back to that now.
I’m currently thinking of just putting the words ‘Blah, blah, alien’ in red letters on the page before skipping it for now and getting on with editing.
There are occasions when it becomes obvious that the first draft isn’t that far removed from the idea this story was going to be a feature film originally. I’ve just picked my way through the tangled web of Chapter 3 and realised that it goes from one location, to another and then yet another. On film this would work but it feels massively long and drawn out on a page. It doesn’t help that we’re following one character, never switching from her.
So I’ve had to split it. It ends after the second location is brought in. What happens in the third though is the first sighting of our alien friend so it’s important overall, probably more important than to be filling out the end of an early chapter.
Now I’ve just got to remember that I’ve left this bit out for now so I don’t leave a huge, nonsensical gap later.
There’s at least a couple of characters in the book that have changed a fair bit since they were first written down on a page eighteen months ago. Robert has gone from comedic relief to being one of the main cogs in the entire story for example. The other big change is Anne, the daughter who goes missing. Originally I had her down as about ten or eleven years old. This was partly because it’s old enough to take an active part in the story but also because it was the age of my son at the time of starting writing the book. It seemed like a no brainer and a fairly easy route forward.
It really wasn’t.
As the story went through the first draft I quickly came to the conclusion that eleven is far too young for the purposes of this story. She needs to be a bit more self sufficient in order for this to work. Any younger and she’d just be following along. Her age changed about halfway through the first draft to make her more like fifteen. The hardest part of this is to get her dialogue right. It’s apparently really easy to make teenage characters automatically sound sulky or aloof. She does have a little bit of that in her, she’s spent a decade and a half growing up in a dead end Scottish town, but I really don’t want her to spend all this time being in a stereotypical sulk. She’s the main driving thing in charge of this whole story after all.
It’s a difficult balance to get right.