February 4th, 23 months writing the book. My goal of getting a workable second draft up and running by the two year mark has slipped a little due to a lack of progress in the last week or so.
Looking back over the last few weeks I’ve noticed that I’m spending a lot of time tweaking chapters, sometimes getting tiny details sorted out before moving on. In effect I’m taking a chapter and rewriting it two or three times. Whilst it’s good to make sure its working okay it does mean I’m making slow progress.
So I had a new idea. For the initial run I’m concentrating on chapter order and getting the overall structure right. Once I’ve got that locked down then I’ll start to go chapter by chapter and sharpen it all up.
It feels a little bit like cheating but it means I’ll be okay for March 4th.
Eleven chapters down, many of them with extra notes at the side in red font to give me a later heads up about bits that will need fixing. It’s full of things like “Would actual humans talk like this?” and “She was damp in the first draft, now she’s completely dry”.
Context is everything.
Whilst it’s not readable to the outside world at this time there are fleeting lines and maybe a couple of paragraphs when it reads like I really want it to. It’s descriptive, it’s darkly comic and it buzzes along.
Then it slips back into the same old and dull formula.
I’ve mentioned before how much this book sometimes suffers a bit from originally being written as a film script. It’s hit home how much this can be the case with Chapter 9.
As I’ve rewritten parts of this Anne, the missing girl in the story, starts aboard the alien craft before getting out, going back to her house which has jumped ten years into the future as far as she’s concerned and then she goes off to find the police officer. On film, where the idea of a scene can be put across fairly quickly, moving through three different areas would seem fine but writing this all down makes it feel stretched out beyond all belief.
The obvious answer is to just do what I’ve done before and split the chapters. My chapter count is already pretty high thought and it would probably leave what feels like two half chapters rather than full ones.
This first rerun of the book feels more like sorting out overall structural issues than actually fixing words.
There’s a chance I’ve mentioned this before on this blog but I often get the feeling when watching a movie or reading a book that I’m wasting time. Not that whatever you might be reading or watching at the time is poor but more that I should be getting on with my own stuff. How can I possibly be gaining ground in my own work if I’m spending time reading somebody else’s?
It’s annoying as hell because it’s an internal reaction I have that makes zero sense under any kind of scrutiny. As a result though it’s rare that I get into a book fully. A few days ago however I bought a book with a token I was gifted at Christmas.
I have never read any Stephen King books. I’ve seen The Shining movie (which King fell out with Kubrick during production of) but I’m not into horror generally. I wondered how a book could be scary, I actually thought that King wasn’t going to be that great.
I’m four chapters in and he’s really bloody good isn’t he? Each character is so well defined in the opening couple of chapters and the story has been brilliant from the get go. I’m actually damned jealous in how he makes this look so easy. It’s uncommon for a book to truly ‘click’ with me this early and I think the last one was Neil Gaiman’s American Gods.
Maybe I can put this down as research then I won’t beat myself up about just chilling with a book.
Also, why I didn’t call this blog entry ‘All Work And No Play Makes Cam A Dull Boy’ escapes me.
I seem to have made the drastic mistake of leaving the rewrite mid chapter back in November. As such I’ve spent the last hour looking between the old and new file and wondering where I kick off again. I seem to have departed the whole thing for Christmas around about the time a young girl gets hauled into the sea by an alien.
This was not a good idea at all.
The section of the book describing all of this in the first draft is wonky. I seem to spend too much time describing the same thing over and over so it’ll need cleaned up afterwards. I had to write a fair chunk of it off the top of my head this afternoon so it reads okay…ish. It’s probably not as good as a pivotal part of the book should be.
The March 4th 2019 two year anniversary date for a complete second rewrite might still be on though.
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.