Friday, 30 April 2010


Well, I "finished" the first full and complete good draft in time for my daughter's birthday - but I haven't let her read it yet because I'm still editing.

So she's diligently reading her other birthday presents without complaint, which I think is down to her innate kindness and understanding, rather than a happy-to-put-that-off strategy...

Work is busy, which means I'm getting little time for the editing, and I keep waking up in the early hours mumbling "the painting!" or "the window!" or "the oven!" as some hidden extra-bit-I-need-to-do-to-The-Book emerges from my subconscious. Weird this writing lark, isn't it.

So today is a Writing Day, but first I have to go and help some bees settle in at the bottom of my garden with a nice feeder sloshing with sugar-syrup, and then meet the designer Helen Ashworth for lunch - Helen designs and makes the most fabulous bags and cushions and notebooks using old letters and postcards as templates and uses old fabrics - which makes it sound as though I move in very elegant circles but really Helen and I both worked together in a library once...

... and then I'll get on with the editing.

Helen Ashworth "Vacances" purse, picture courtesy

Tuesday, 20 April 2010

The Book is Finished!

- well, finished the first full draft anyway.

Having said that, I don't do "rough" drafts at all but work and work at each section until it's as good as I can get it before I can move on to the next bit. Then the next time I'm working on it (in those snatched moments of calm between working at my real jobs and living in a somewhat lively household), I re-read the preceding section, inevitably tweaking and editing while I do, then move on to the next...
...although my writing tends to move into my head so that I'm thinking about it while eating, sleeping, and washing up and that's often when the next bit starts to take shape - and when the not-previously-spotted mis-shapen nature of what has already been written raps me sharply on the skull too so that I have to revisit it for a rewrite.

So now the first book in the Witherstone series, called, er Witherstone surprisingly enough, is now a complete 13 chapter - 150 pages of A4 - book which only needs a top-to-toe edit to get rid of those irritating little typos and writer's tics which you can't see for toffee when they're on the screen no matter how many times you read them, but jump up from the page and blow raspberries at you as soon as they are printed on real paper.
Weirdly, each chapter seems to have ended up being roughly the same length as one another, although this wasn't intentional, so that's either good fortune, a sign of sheer writerly brilliance, or, as I suspect, an indication that I've done something terribly wrong...

The first port-of-call with the book is my harshest critic - my daughter. I wrote the book for her and managed to get it into its current "finished" state in time for her Birthday on Friday 16th, although having looked at the first couple of chapters since it's been in complete paper form, I desperately want to edit out those irritating typos first! - if she'll let me... My Writing Day is coming up on Thursday so fingers crossed she won't have finished her current read by then and I can sneak her Birthday Present off for a quick editorial first.

Having said that, I'm not sure I'll ever feel that it's really finished - I'm a real devil for picking at a piece of writing and have to tell myself that if I'm at the stage where I'm spending more than 20 minutes dithering about whether to use "said" or "whispered", I have Finished.

Probably one of the most interesting things about the book is that the germ for its inception all began with an encounter in my brother's garden shed last summer - with a hoard of spiders. When I asked my daughter to design a book cover for it though, she came up with a great picture with no spiders in it at all...