Posts Tagged ‘new manuscript’

The luxury of choice.

Thursday, January 12th, 2012

Peace! There is peace in my house! The girls have gone back to school! And I had a treat this morning because my husband did the school run so I didn’t have to get dressed. Hence I am sitting in front of my computer at 8:30am in my pyjamas. Fun and lazy though the holidays are, I do appreciate the time on my own when the girls are at school. It’s such a luxury to want/need to write and then be able to choose to do so with no interruptions. They have only been back three days and already I’ve managed to complete the prologue and first three chapters of my WIP (work in progress for the uninitiated) to my satisfaction and send them off to my agent for her opinion. This is absolutely a nerve-wracking thing to do; if she likes it then that means I have someone waiting to read the full manuscript when it’s completed and quite possibly handle it for me if she thinks the time and the market are right, but if she doesn’t then that means she will not show any interest in it ever again. Which rather leaves me in the position of writing it solely for myself or deciding to write something new. And this WIP is still such a fledgling manuscript, I’ve only written 15,797 words, it feels like a real baby of a work. The plans are there but little else, I have no chapter outlines or detailed notes yet so I feel very protective of it. I think if I had written more and had a better sense of confidence about it I’d be more relaxed and able to accept whatever judgement comes back to me. But it isn’t until around 25,000 words that I really feel like I’m properly holding the reins on the manuscript. Until that point I don’t know my characters as well as I might, all options are open for the plot and I just don’t feel in control or properly bedded in. Therefore, if she comes back to me with a negative opinion (which has happened in the past) I know I shall feel crushed and uninspired and struggle to gather the enthusiasm to write on regardless. Which is wrong because you shouldn’t write for a market, or for one person, but I respect her opinion so much and if she says it’s rubbish or not marketable then I shall believe her. However, with this particular manuscript  I love writing it so much and I’m so involved with the story already that I hope I would be able to overcome any negative feelings in a very few days. Hopefully I won’t have to wait too long, she’s generally very good at getting back to me quickly. There will no softening of any blow however, if she doesn’t like it – she’ll say so!  I did ask about the fifth and final response we’re waiting for on Daisychain but apparently despite chasing nothing is forthcoming. Ah, well. It will come eventually.

I was very excited (and jealous) this week to read an interview with author Joanne Harris about her writing shed. See here: This is what I aspire to! This lovely, talented lady has been able to create her ideal space to write in, in her garden. This strikes me as the ultimate luxury. Most people write wherever (and whenever) they can. Furtively at work, on trains, in cafes, in bedrooms whilst small children are doing homework, etc., etc. I remember reading about Catherine Alliott who wrote her first novel under her desk at work – what dedication! Or boredom, perhaps. If you are a new and aspiring author it’s unlikely that you can cater to your every whim about where you’d like to be creative; I consider myself pretty lucky because I have a desk that is mine and mine alone and I can shut the door to keep my marauding husband and children out. The privacy is invaluable. But I did wonder where and how I would choose to write given the absolute choice. And I think I agree with Joanne Harris in that I would leave the house to work in some structure elsewhere, but alone and in total silence. I certainly couldn’t write in a library or anywhere. It would be a massive psychological step to get up and walk out of the door to start writing. As she points out, it can be very difficult as a writer to find that mental working space because whether in an office or at home you are continually surrounded by the accoutrements of normal, daily life and it can be hard to switch off. If the phone rings, you answer it. If someone comes to the door, you answer it. If you glance at the laundry basket and it’s full you’ll probably think – it’s time I did some washing. All of these things, and more, cut into the absolute focus it is possible to achieve elsewhere. I am very bad at abandoning my housework to sit down and write. If I do I find myself thinking about what awaits me afterwards and I get distracted. The only time that I can switch off properly to everything else around me is when I know that there is a reason for wanting to get something written. The prologue and first three chapters for assessment, for example. However if I had a writing shed I think I’d find it very easy to get up in the morning, make a cup of tea and head out there, regardless of the mess in my kitchen or whatever. My shed would have to be warm, there would be no radio, I would have a very comfortable, supportive chair, a large desk to write on because I tend to plan on random sheets of A4 paper and spread them about the place, it would be very well lit but no glaring overhead bulb, I’d have lamps dotted around and I probably wouldn’t take my mobile phone. Or if I did it would be silenced. And the word ‘shed’ immediately conjures up images of spiders and I definitely couldn’t have any of those so I’d also need a cleaner. Which is another luxury I don’t currently possess and would like to. Apparently writing leaves me plenty of time for cleaning……according to my husband. I also doubt that I would get dressed to write. I’ve been meaning to tweet about this for a while – what does everyone else write in? Clothing wise? Do people get up and get dressed as normal in jeans and jumper or whatever, or do they have special loungewear, or do they just stay in their pyjamas? I’d adore to know. I don’t get dressed especially to write but seeing as I have a school run to do six days a week, I’m normally dressed already. I do have to be comfortable when I’m writing though, I can’t be cold or have waistbands digging in or anything.

My training for the half-marathon is not going particularly well…..I’m managing to get to the gym most days but it’s usually just to play racket ball which I’ve discovered a love for, or to use the gym in general, not specifically for training. The problem I think is that the further I am able to run, the longer it takes – and the more bored I get. If I run 5.5-6 miles on the treadmill it will take me an hour – and that’s a long time to be in one place, running. Several people have suggested returning to road running as an alternative but I have problems with my knees and it would really hurt them, and also I like to know exactly how far I’ve run and at what speed and I also run on an incline. So my new plan is just to run a shorter distance, but faster, and then do some work on the cross-trainer afterwards. That’s what I did on Tuesday and I felt absolutely exhausted afterwards so hopefully that was some decent CV training.

Speaking of which, today is definitely a proper gym training day, and I have housework to do as well before meeting a friend at 2pm for coffee. And all of this before I can get any writing done 🙂 If you don’t already follow me on twitter I’m @SoVerySarah and that’s where I post all news immediately so keep an eye on there to find what the verdict is on my new manuscript…..

An Unusual Sunday

Sunday, October 24th, 2010

I woke up this morning and wondered what I would write about today. I’ve had a nice, but not fantastically interesting weekend. Nothing much has happened on the writing front, I’m working hard on a book proposal for Manuscript Number 2 which is consuming much of my thoughts but I have yet to see any productive output as a result. It’s all being corralled in my mind though, so it’s fine. I just need to extract it careful piece by careful piece. It may surprise some of you to know that even with one published book under your belt you still need to pitch your next manuscript to the publisher. They need to be convinced that it’s a saleable work; clearly I know this, it’s just a case of imparting the information in the strongest form possible. But this didn’t leave me with much scope for today’s blog.

So luckily for me, it was a beautiful day here in Hampshire. Equally luckily, we had nothing planned. We got up staggeringly late, ate a staggeringly unhealthy lunch and the sum of all these things combined to make it a good idea to go for a lengthy walk this afternoon. We decided to walk through our local village to the ruins of an old Abbey (where my author photo was taken) and perhaps stop for a quiet drink on the way back. It all went to plan until we reached the outskirts of the village, where there were police cars lined up and cones to prevent people parking. We live in a nice area by the way; you don’t normally find it frequented by police, so I was slightly surprised. As we walked further down into the village we saw flags hung outside every house along the road. Nice, but again, unusual. Then we saw something not only unusual but distinctly alarming. A person had made a papier-mâché – um – thing – and placed it outside their house. It looked like a dragon but the sheet hung above it declared it to be something from “NARNIA”. This dragon was accompanied by creepy music and bizarrely, printed out photos of Narnia characters with guinea-pig faces superimposed over the top.

“Is that….?” said my husband, in tones of someone who has drunk too much the night before and has fears in case they are hallucinating.

“Yes.” I replied. “I truly think it is. A person has put their pet guinea pigs faces onto those of Narnia characters.”

We don’t live in the sort of place where this is normal behaviour.

The next house we came to had a papier-mâché cake outside it, next to which was a sign saying “EAT ME” amongst other decorations.

“Ah. Alice in Wonderland,” said my husband knowledgeably. He was very quick to get into the swing of this, you see. He was being very casual and laid back about the whole thing, as if it were completely normal to try and guess which fairy-tale the house was pretending to be.

I looked at him, “Well, yes,” I said. “Clearly.  But why?” My question was swiftly answered when we came to the main thoroughfare which was populated by various stalls, a hog-roast, people selling enormous amounts of balloons, bubble mixtures and pieces of wool on sticks (yes, really). All became clear, it was the village carnival. Madness reigned. Literally.  Amongst which was a group of people from whom a huge noise emanated. Sort of aeroplane-like.

“I can’t see,” I said to my husband. “What is it?”

“Er, well,” he said peering over the crowd. “It appears to be a woman on a mobility scooter turned into an aeroplane.” One of the least safe things I’ve ever heard, if you ask me. Eventually it emerged that it was a Battle of Britain display. Of course it was. They couldn’t have depicted it better.

Enjoyable though this lunacy was, we decided nonetheless to still head for the Abbey and then spent a good twenty minutes trying to find our way out of the village. I was specific about the road I wanted to use (most direct route to the pub) but less specific about where it actually was. Which didn’t make me very popular. But no matter, because it did give us the opportunity to pass a river where a kind gentleman with a 4 litre bottle of cider and long-unwashed hair invited me to “…come and sit ‘ere wiv me darlin’,” – an invitation which social etiquette dictated I declined because I was with my husband and daughter. Obviously in any other situation it would have been lovely. Suffice to say, once we’d made it to the pub we didn’t go any further. We sat by a lovely open fire, drank some lovely wine and laughed a little about our eventful walk. Oh little did we know what was coming up……

What was coming up was the parade. We happened upon this on our way back (for which I got the blame for insisting we walk back through the village rather than along the fume-filled A27. Can’t think why I insisted that.) Anyway, precisely as we arrived at the road we needed to cross, the parade of floats along it began. Of course it did. But at least it provided us with some of the best spectacles of the day. If not my life. I’m not clear how you qualify to have a float; there were all sorts being towed by all manner of odd vehicles. Including unsuitably-attired women, and unbelievably men, singing and pretending to be Cheryl Cole. The fact that their ages meant each one of them could easily have been her grandparent didn’t seem to have put them off, which is a lovely enthusiastic attitude. There was also a float of girls dressed in tight sailor outfits and dancing to a Vengaboys track for some obscure reason. It was a cold day but it didn’t matter because they were well-insulated. And shortly after that was a group of sweet little children dressed as elves on a Christmas float, accompanied by Father Christmas himself and some adult elves, which I thought was genuinely nice. Until I spotted the cans of lager the adult elves were drinking as they marched in a parade with small children. Father Christmas was abstaining at least. The best bit however was the band of men marching in uniform. Not sure which uniform (it was navy blue with white hats) but it was very smart and EXTREMELY sexy. I nudged my husband, “Can you dress up in a uniform like that please?” I asked. “No,” he said flatly. “I am not dressing up in a uniform and marching through the village.” It wasn’t quite what I had in mind but I let it go.

And that was about it. The excitement tailed off after that. The rest of my evening will be about ironing and watching Downton Abbey, of which my husband is suspiciously fond. I thought he was enjoying the plotline but it turns out that he has fallen mildly in love with Lady Mary. You know the one, she of the tightly-corseted waist in hunting outfits with an oft-veiled face and long, dark hair. Either that or in a plunging evening dress with heaving bosoms. I can’t think what the appeal is. I may offer a deal though – I’ll be Lady Mary if he wears a uniform.

And perhaps next year we can have our own float.