Archive for May, 2012

Write or wrong?

Monday, May 28th, 2012

I don’t particularly like Monday mornings. It’s my own fault; I don’t do any housework (or bare minimum anyway) over the weekend so by Monday morning my house is a mess and I have hundreds of jobs to do. And of course it’s made so much worse by the sunshine because who wants to be tidying and vacuuming and ironing when it’s so hot and beautiful outside? Certainly not me. Plus the food shopping needs to be done and all the weekend clothes washed, and there’s such an air of needing to be productive on Monday mornings. You don’t feel that you can slope off with a good book.

Although, on the positive side, this Monday morning is better than last week’s, so that’s something. For those of you not following my pathetic progress on twitter, my husband went abroad for a week and my life fell apart. One daughter ended up in hospital with suspected appendicitis, I broke the freezer, ran out of food, failed to wash enough socks for my younger daughter and generally spent the whole week feeling stressed and like I was chasing my own tail. In addition to which I was battling on with my horrible new gym routine. People keep asking me why I’m doing it and I don’t have an answer. I was bored with just running 5k every time I went to the gym and if I’m bored then I won’t do it, so I decided to enlist the help of a personal trainer. I told him that I wanted to lose a little bit of weight and be very fit, but I was only prepared to spend half an hour per day doing it. I told him not to give me a lengthy, fiddly routine involving lots of weights and hopping on and off several pieces of equipment because I simply won’t do it. And to be fair, he didn’t. What he did do was devise an appalling, a hellish, forty minute workout using interval training. This pushes your body to the maximum for sixty second periods and then allows for a rest period and it’s the best way to improve cardiovascular fitness. The first time I did it I was simply in shock. The second time I very nearly cried, the third time I was nearly sick, and it’s only now, three weeks later, that I actually feel that I can cope with it. Or bits of it. I enjoy the results though so I shall keep on doing it. Although  the trainer mentioned increasing the routine after four weeks so I’ll have to avoid him like the plague; I can’t do more, I can’t.

And as well as health and fitness, another advantage of all that exercise is to provide me with great long stretches of time in which to consider my current manuscript, as the title of this post suggests. Because I need to, it’s tricky. I have characters, I have a plot, I have houses, names, careers, motivations – you name it, I have it. I am the most prepared person in the world to write a book. And yet – I can’t get at the story. I’ve tried three different things now, and I’m onto my fourth, but I have yet to settle into one of them.  Over the weekend, I realised that I think I will have to change the whole way that I was writing the manuscript before. One of the characters needs a far larger role than I had previously given her. I think that I may even end up writing with two alternate viewpoints, which is something I dislike, but the other option is to incorporate her into the main body of the story and I just don’t think that will work. It’s at times like this that I wish I could plan properly, it would be so much easier, I long for files and ringbinders and neat black lines.  But I realised on Saturday that I really, truly, can’t. I sat down to write a scene that I’d had an idea about with no notes, nor any real idea of where I was going to take it, and it worked. It worked beautifully well. Just holding the very essence of the story in my mind, I wrote over a thousand words in an hour and I was left with a sense that I could have written the whole book in a day; nice when it happens. And furthermore, later on I felt that spike of pleasure that you sometimes get when you’re looking forward to reading your current book (for me it’s The Shell Seekers by Rosamunde Pilcher) but  then I realised that it wasn’t my reading book that I was anticipating so eagerly, it was climbing back into the one that I’m writing – which has to be a good sign? That said, I haven’t had time since to go back and assess it properly so I have no idea whether I can continue with it or whether I’ll have to go back to how I was writing before. The manuscript itself is in a mess, with different bits dotted around that I’ve cut but want to keep and they’re all in the same document. There’s even two entirely different versions of the book; I must have written over fifty thousand words in total on it so far and I have yet to get at the story in a way that works. It’s there, I just can’t see it properly yet. Happily, I remember reading a blog post by another author on writing her second novel and that went through about twenty different versions before she finally landed on the right one. It’s not even a case of editing, it’s finding the right way to write the book.  And I will, somehow….

These long summer days are perfect for reading! I haven’t read so much for months; I suppose it’s something to do with spending lots of time lazing in the sun and generally feeling more relaxed and lethargic. I’ve re-read lots of Rosamunde Pilcher, Penny Vincenzi and Elizabeth Jane Howard,  but the trouble is that I’m finding there’s nothing on the market these days in a similar style. A very kind author  called Jane Sanderson sent me a copy of her novel, Netherwood, which was wonderful, I thoroughly recommend it – it was such a gentle, engaging read. The link is at the bottom of this post. I’ve also ordered The Cornish House by Liz Fenwick (again, link below), which was published last week and sounds lovely. But apart from that I’m finding that I am mostly re-reading. I love browsing in bookshops though, there’s such an aura of potential about the experience – you might find the perfect novel that will entrap you, excite you, amuse you. I don’t own a Kindle and nor do I plan to. My husband and I did discuss it briefly for going abroad in the summer, but I’m afraid that I just couldn’t get past the screen.  I am definitely a real book aficionado.

And now it’s too beautiful to sit indoors any longer so I’m going to find something constructive I can do outside. And I have to take my daughter a pencil case. She’s sitting her school exams this week and she informed me at eight o’ clock this morning that she needed a clear pencil case. I wasn’t quite sure where she expected me to produce one of those from so I gave her a sandwich bag – and then as the car disappeared down the road, I remembered that I keep my staples in, yes,  you’ve guessed it, a clear pencil case…… I hope that is not an indication of the rest of my week or it might be me ending up in hospital this time. Voluntarily.

xxx

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Netherwood-Jane-Sanderson/dp/0751547638/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1338197879&sr=8-1

http://lizfenwick.blogspot.co.uk/