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Posts Tagged ‘editing’

I’ve been talking about my writing a lot recently – for a number of reasons and to a pretty mixed audience.  It surprises me how easy people think it is to be published; as though every writer has a raft of offers (if only).

I explain the options of traditional publishing vs self publishing and how literary agents are the first line of resistance when it comes to most traditional publishing, but still I get the ‘of course you’re published’ comments that make me feel a little like I’ve failed them.

Getting an agent isn’t automatic, isn’t that easy for most people, and doesn’t guarantee publication anyway!

It surprises me how many people don’t know what goes on for writers, really – questions and assumptions I’ve heard about my own ‘career’ can be really demotivating, and quite honestly I have rejection letters and emails for that, I don’t need it from people in general conversation!

On the more positive side, editing has gone really well this week, despite a few shaky days when I couldn’t fit writing work in because of other things going on.  In some respects I think the busy days helped me because I was so keen to make up some lost time that I’ve managed to do more in an editing session than I would normally expect.

I now have just 34 A4 pages left to go, and that is my task for tomorrow.  I hope it won’t take more than 3 hours but if it does, I’ll just have to hunker down for a long evening.  Luckily, as I am working a lot of extra hours from Tuesday onwards I should get out of work on time tomorrow!

I’m still enjoying revisiting the book; there have been a few changes to improve the flow but really, there’s not a lot of alteration.  I want to build on this little world I have created though, and explore where these characters go – so I am really keen to get going on the sequel.

Perhaps that’s the part I miss when talking about writing.  Publication is an ideal, because I want people to read what I’ve produced – but writing is the goal.  I don’t write because I want a lucrative career, or a twitter following, or the film rights, or to be able to wear designer dresses to fancy awards.  I write because I need to write.  When I don’t sit down and build a story, or poem, or moment on a piece of paper, I am missing out on joy.

The rest is just wrapping paper.  The writing is the gift.

Enjoy your gift,

EJ

🙂

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Well, the editing didn’t get finished as hoped, but that’s fairly standard – it always takes longer than I expect and there’s been quite a few other life distractions that have cut into my working time.  I just have to keep on tracking down all those little niggles and smoothing them out for a little bit longer.

I need to get it done before 1 March though, because I don’t want it hanging about for too long: I’ll be really busy with my paid job after that for a little while, and I probably won’t get a lot of writing time.

I have one other piece of writing work to get done this week too – an exercise for writing group.  I kind of feel that I have to do it as it’s the ‘homework’ I set people, to try out a particular technique and see if it helps them.  Much as I find with the blog, I never really know what people will want from one month to the next, but I figure it’s good to share exercises and approaches that work for me because worst case scenario, they won’t work for someone else – there’s no risk factor.

Anyway, rather than talk about what I haven’t done, I’m going to share some positives…

  • I got my tickets to see the Royal Shakespeare Company perform A Midsummer Night’s Dream
  • I got a costume sorted out for a charity 1920’s dinner party next weekend
  • I planned a trip to see family in the North of England
  • I arranged not one but two reunions with school friends  It’s a big anniversary year this year so I have quite a few events with different people to plan!

So not all bad; in fact some pretty cool ticks on the list this week – they’re just not quite where I was intending to tick.

But I take the good where I can.

Happy writing,

EJ

🙂

 

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This week has not gone entirely as expected – life is like that – but I have been editing the novel.

Again.  And, also, again.

I’m having conflicting feelings about editing, really. Obviously I wanted to correct the typos, but as I worked, I started to change a word here, a phrase there – and found myself in editing mode very quickly. I don’t mind that, per se, because I want to make it the best I can. However, it’s not what I intended!

Re-reading it, I was happy.  It’s the microscope effect of searching for errors that makes me read as an editor rather than as a reader.  And an editor has to pre-empt potential issues.

For example, I know from my reading group friends that using the same word in two sentences of a paragraph will have no effect on them whatsoever – but three or four might become noticeable.

For me as editor of my own work, any repeated use has to be tested, checked, and alternatives considered.

Thus it ever was, I suppose: it’s not surprising to me that there are only a few instances because I’ve gone though this exercise many times before.

And that’s just one example of where the perception as reader is not the same as an editor.  Any page could have an error, a discrepancy or simply an unnecessary word or phrase.  I may correct word usage, or speech, or tense.  The whole novel has to be addressed, line by line.

I will carry on with my task for the next week, and hope to be finished by Sunday.   After that, the synopsis can be properly finalised and the novel can go out to agents.

Again.

Editing is my least favourite part of writing but it’s also the part that makes a rough diamond sparkle.  Going back to it after a prolonged wait may actually be better for my book than sending it out straight away, because I have a different perspective on it now.  I need to finish editing at some point, otherwise it’ll never go anywhere.  But if I know the work needs attention, I should be correcting things – what I send out is a reflection on me and the potential I have.

Besides, it’ll help polish that diamond just a little bit more…

Happy writing,

EJ

🙂

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In preparation for my competition entry this week, I spent most of my time on my first novel.

Re-reading it has been really lovely. It has identified a few minor issues to tidy up, which is the task for next week, but I doubt that will take more than an hour or so.

Re-doing the synopsis has been much more time-consuming.

When I first prepared everything for agents, I followed all the guidelines to a tee, and the majority of those only allow for one page of text. Looking at that after a little time has passed showed me where I had missed a trick, in terms of building the story. I’m not sure I got it right for this competition, but it is something I will definitely be focussing on over then next couple of weeks.

All this has really got me excited about the book again, so after debating my next options for a while, I am going to try to agent route again. If it’s still unsuccessful I have the option to self-publish, and I will prepare for that too.

The book represents a transformation in my life – giving up my career to write, building an on-line presence, creating a writing community locally. I changed my world to make it happen, and I don’t want that to be wasted.

So that’s my focus for the rest of this month. For the rest of tonight, though, I am logging off as we are in for a storm and I think my power might be compromised!

Happy writing,
EJ
🙂

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I recently saw a post on twitter about a writing competition and decided it would be silly not to enter, so this week most of my writing attention has been on that. It’s good timing though, as it involves looking back at the Family Tree novel which is what I’ve been doing anyway!

It has given me a chance to re-write my synopsis too, focussing on what exactly I want to tell an agent/publisher/reader/competition judge about my characters.

I want to make them feel for them, just as strongly as I do – I need them to care what happens to them, what trials they face and how they get through them. I want them to see the way the characters develop and grow, how each person impacts on the others and changes their perception of what the world is.

So that’s what I’m trying to do. For this competition, the synopsis can be up to 10 pages long which is ten times the agents I tried, so there’s a lot of scope there – but there is a definite balance between giving details and being too detailed, which I need to reach. I have only a few more days to work on it, as I intend to submit on Wednesday.

Wish me luck!

As well as that, I’ve been gradually trying to sort out my writing space.  I have a study at home, but for a multitude of reasons I never write in there.  In fact, my writing desk is actually in my lounge (the one in the header picture above!) and my husband sits there when he’s working from home, so we rarely use the study at all.  The hope is that when it’s reorganised, I will have a quiet space to hide away and get a different perspective – I really do find that changing where I work can break down writing blocks, so the more places I can get pen to paper, the better!

That’s it for this week – I’m off to summarise some more!

Happy writing,

EJ

🙂

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So much of my time this week has been spent learning and rehearsing other people’s words that I am actually quite proud of the fact my whodunnit is creeping, slowly, longer.

It’s taking much more time than I expected but partway through feeling rubbishy this week I decided just to go for it and get writing, so I at least had something to develop. Wading around thinking about ‘how to’ was really just tying me up in knots.

There’s not much worse for me as a writer than getting bogged down in a planning issue when I don’t commit anything to paper (or in this case computer memory). There’s a mental equation that looks something like this:

0w = 0p><0p = 100%f

No words = no progress. No progress = 100% failure.

I have said many times that upping the word count and producing something of value are not the same thing, but I can’t edit a blank page so at the moment I’ll accept less than perfect writing for something to work with in a few weeks time.

Once I got going I must say that the writing really started to flow and the pages filled quite rapidly. I have a long way to go – and another week of rehearsals followed by three performances so not a lot of time right now – but I do feel better for getting into some sort of writing groove. If I can find even an hour or two this week to keep going I’ll be happy, and once my performing days are over I will be in a position to really get into the nitty-gritty of the plot twisters – and finally learn what I need to learn to get back to the novel!

In other news – listening lunches are back on the menu, so to speak 🙂 My songwriter friend and I are planning a new round of lunches with hopefully a lot of new material. This year I want to do more, push myself more, and achieve more so it’ll be good to start that as soon as panto season is over.  Plus once I get into the editing of the whodunnit I will be happy to have some poetry to break up my time a little.

And finally – I know I am well behind on the 100 novels list but next Sunday, post-panto, I will catch up with a report on those I’ve missed, and (if I remember) a brief report on where I go next with my reading challenge.

Happy writing,

EJ

🙂

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This week I realised I am only 7 books away from my target, and I suddenly felt quite good about myself!  A few weeks ago it seemed such a long way to target, so clearly it’s all in the perception…

Book 45 – Saints Preserve Us, by L. K. Ellwood.   I picked this one to read for a few reasons: I am still seeking out the easy reading books until I have my non-wedding-addled brain back; the cover looked interestingly yellow; it sounded like it was all going to be a bit tongue in cheek.  It didn’t meet all my expectations but I’ll come back to that in a minute.

Before I get into the book itself, I’d like to remind you that I said if I read a free, self-published book and didn’t enjoy it I’d just put it aside and not mention it.  With this one I teetered on the edge of not mentioning it for a few reasons, but overall I think it was a perfectly reasonable bit of light reading.

I won’t spoil but I will say that the story was fairly engaging and moved at a good pace; the mystery had enough twists to keep my interest and to deflect suspicion for a while and the background idea was sufficiently unusual to get my attention.

There were a few things that let the book down for me, and having read the reviews on Goodreads I think they are fairly common issues.

The first is characterisation.  The main character seemed to morph from staid, priggish elderly woman to young widow and I felt confused about who exactly she was. For a successful, self-confident woman to be living in her sister’s basement also seemed a little incongruous. Another character, first pegged as a gossipy unpleasant woman suddenly became a good friend and saviour of the main character.  Not everyone was so mixed up but it was a little unsatisfying.

The second was the proofing.  I won’t go on about this as I have blethered before about being frustrated by poor proofing in books (I don’t worry about blogs, luckily for me!)  but it was a distraction in places.

The third was the religiosity.  As part of the story it was absolutely essential to understand the processes and rules around sainthood, and the rituals and practises of religion in daily life.  However, there were times when it stepped from that into something more like a treatise on morality and it made me uncomfortable.  One particular scene outside a concert seemed so out of place that it took me completely out of the book and into a general musings on the nature of societies.

I am a Sociology graduate, I can’t help myself sometimes!!

So I came to this review with reservations.  I don’t want to be unduly critical of a book that did have some interesting and entertaining moments, and which delved into family life in a way I appreciated, so I will simply say that in my opinion it’s in need of some editing and a proofread. The story itself was quirky and unexpected and the possibilities it raised were tantalising enough to keep me reading to the end.

And if a book got me to do that at the moment, I think it should be seen as a success!

Happy reading,

EJ

🙂

 

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