Not much rewriting done over the last few days. This is mainly due to the sudden realisation that Christmas is upon us and I hadn’t started any shopping yet. Rather than staring at Word I’ve instead been online shopping. I might be able to fit a little bit in tonight if I can tick some more people off my list of ‘to buy for’.
In the meantime though I thought, seeing as it got rejected, I’d put up the 500 words personal statement that I wrote to apply for the mentorship scheme. Was it far too over the top? Was the metaphor strained and not really needed in the first place? Did I come across like a raving mad man? Dear reader, all these questions are for you to reach your own conclusions on.
It’s almost like the feeling of accidentally getting off the train at the station one stop before the one you intended. You know where you want to be, you’re on the right line to get there but you’ve somehow ended up in a place that wasn’t part of the original plan.
I was fourteen when I decided I wanted to be a writer. During a meeting with the careers advisor at Annan Academy I’d brought it up as a possibility and was quickly told that there wasn’t much call for that in Dumfries and Galloway’ before being handed leaflets about working in Chapelcross Power Station.
I didn’t give up.
I left school and went to study Media Production at Carlisle College of Art and Design (later renamed Cumbria Institute of the Arts). Whilst there I wrote short films and held screenings in local venues due to a lack of YouTube at the time. My final project on the degree course was a film about a self-help group who meet over the internet. It was nominated for an award in 2004 from the Royal Television Society. It did not win.
I didn’t give up.
Upon graduation and realising that fame and fortune wasn’t coming to me the instant I left college I got a job working in an opticians.What I thought was going to be a line of work I’d be doing for about six months has ended up being thirteen years. Whilst ordering contact lenses and measuring varifocals during the day I have continued to write at night. Projects done during this time have included a short play which was performed in a theatre bar in Carlisle and a short film that was screened around Europe including at the Cannes Film Festival in 2013.
I haven’t given up.
My latest project in a science fiction book based in smalltown Scotland (being from Gretna I have a fair bit of experience in small town Scotland). Beginning in March 2017 I’m now onto a second rewrite. This is also the first time I’ve ever tried to write a book. A mentorship would enable me to work towards getting the book into a far more presentable state. I would certainly benefit from the guidance and advice on offer so I could move further towards completion and then publication. Having spent all this time working onit alone it would be great to get another angle on my work so far.
All of this would hopefully help me move further down the line and off the station I seem to have found myself at in the last few years.
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.