15 September 2021 - Happy Birthday Sally!
Today marks four years since the debut novel 'At Reception' was published! Whilst that is something to celebrate today it also reminds me it is now four years and I still haven't finished the novel about pregnant bar worker Lucy! I am on what should be one of the last iterations of corrections. I used the excuse that it needed significant re-writing. Now that's largely complete I'm tempted to say 'Fix the grammatical errors, get it off to copy editing and move on!'. But every writer should want their work to be the best it can be. Writing is an art and any artist should strive for the best they can do. Perfection is down to the opinions of the critics. One issue the first time writer or self-published novelist faces is the lack of publisher deadlines to work to. It's easy to decide mowing the lawn is more important - it screams 'Cut Me!' to you as you sit there writing! Or maybe it's a sunny day and the blue sky calls you to go out and enjoy a drink at a bar by a river. Hopefully as we here in the UK head into winter the lack of distractions created by the summer will allow more time to write.
It's not like I haven't done anything! I continue to develop short stories and submit them for competitions. The main objective is the publicity from winning - to get the Galahad Porter name out there in literary circles. I now have enough for a modest sized book of short stories. Unfortunately once published they can't be used for competitions again. Any short story can continue to be improved. So I keep working on the current batch: I have tweaked, rewritten, changed the perspective and even changed the sex of the main character in one! I probably need a couple of new storylines to play with. If no luck I'll publish for you the reader to see what you make of them! I plan to include a selection of the the significantly modified versions - not so much to pad out the book size a bit but so you can see the development of ideas!
So, let's all celebrate Sally's birthday! Maybe September 15 should be 'International NOT Caffe Latte Day!'
Also, nobody send Sally a pre-packed mixed bunch of flowers nor any flowers in a box!
8 February 2021 - Any excuse!
'So where is the novel about newly pregnant bar worker Lucy?' you ask.
I have plenty of excuses including Sally the cat taking control of the keyboard! The reality is editing the first draft has proved much more difficult than expected. One reader of the debut novel At Reception complained some of the sentences were too long. When the copy editor went through it before publication semi-colons popped up everywhere to break up sentences. I removed them and where needed inserted commas. Nevertheless I am aware of my long sentences. With the novel about Lucy the same problem has occurred. Only it's not just that. At Reception was written in extreme first person. The Lucy novel is more traditional in structure and that makes splitting up long sentences more complex. So the editing process is taking an age. I can only work for about one and a half to two hours at a time. After that my eyes and brain complain!
But there is something else. I write in pieces that I assemble together. I don't start at the beginning and see where it goes. Integrating some of the sections is proving a challenge. This particularly applies to back stories. The novel is set in a bar. I'm trying to replicate the real life experience of going into a neighbourhood bar for the first time. I want the reader, like Lucy, to form their own view of the other customers. Not knowing anybody there's the first impression. Your opinion changes with more information. It could be their behaviour or gossip from other people. Eventually you might get to speak to the person. Then comes the surprise element that you experience when really getting to know someone. The backstories are intended to recreate the same experience for the reader. In the Lucy novel the personalities of her customers gradually unfold. Their backstories are intended to bring depth and sudden insight into each character. The placing of these interventions is proving a challenge!
There is a further lesson for a new writer. The more you write the better you should be at it. A full length novel can take a year (or longer) to write. The sections you wrote early in the process may not be to the same standard as more recent ones. In my case they are of a different style. Writers evolve in the same way a novel does. This leads to not just typos but the need for significant rewriting. Fortunately most of the novel is conversational so this mainly applies to the bits in between.
I anticipate the novel will be finished by late summer. As I said above there are lots of excuses I can come up with and maybe I will need to find more!!