Sorry. Long gap between posts. I’ve been busy – but being busy is the object, surely? (See Running out of life and Farewell Facebook.) Writing this blog helps me organise my thoughts but it won’t get my books published.
Many things increase one’s chances of getting published – but only two things are mandatory. Writing. And getting one’s writing out there.
So that’s what I’ve been doing. Serious, eight-hour days. At a desk. No lounging in coffee shops, compiling inspirational playlists, or being witty on Twitter – just good habits and a consistent working environment. And so-bloody-what if nobody takes me seriously when I say I’m working? I do and that’s what matters.
My aim? A synchronised, simultaneous four-pronged approach:
- plan one
- write one
- revise one
- have one out there
Plan one. Ideas? Goodness me, yes! – but, like a bag of sweets, I have to resist dipping in too often or I’ll get distracted.
Write one. Revise one. This is the fun bit. Love every minute. Keeps me awake at night, inspires me during the day. This is my personal, patented 5 draft process:
- The dirty draft. no punctuation no capitals present tense stream of consciousness like a screenplay go go go
- Make it readable. That’s where I am now with Book 2. Chapters, scenes, sentences, dialogue, description. Nice and tidy in Ulysses.
- Make it sensible. Pace and plot. Continuity and cohesion. I’m quite excited about Fictionary for the nuts and bolts of this stage especially for defining the Purpose of each scene.
- Make it beautiful. Mood. Meaning. Themes. Accuracy. Aspiration. Come on! This could be so much better!
- Make it perfect. This is where I am with Book 1. Engage with beta readers, take a big step back, and be very brave. Lots of Bs but aiming for an A.
Have one out there. After last summer’s premature submission, I’ve ordered an Agent Submission Pack Review from Jericho Writers. Gonna do it properly this time. And if there are no bites for Book 1, then I’ll have Book 2 in the pipeline ready to go.
What else am I doing?
Planning and prioritising my reading. Three books on the go: one (or two) heavy historical, one lighter historical, one novel. Right now:
- Lyn Macdonald’s Roses of No Mans Land: written back in 1993 and still one of the most comprehensive and lively of all the Great War medical and nursing histories
- Jane Robinson’s brilliant, erudite and highly readable Hearts and Minds: The Untold Story of the Great Pilgrimage and How Women won the Vote
- Gunner Officer on the Western Front by Herbert Asquith (published in 2018, based on an autobiographical work written in 1937)
- The King’s General by Daphne DuMaurier – because I’ve never read it and I like strong heroes 🙂
Light relief? Film or television – but carefully curated. The English Patient last weekend. First the screenplay, then the film. And A Very English Scandal on the BBC because it’s so damn good. (The Englishness of this selection is a coincidence. Honest.)
A poetry writing course – because an appreciation of rhythm and rhyme is good for writers of prose as well as poets. I’ve downloaded a DIY short course from the Poetry School.
Networking. I’ve joined the recently re-launched Jericho Writers, mainly for the discussion forums – and I’m going to a Words Away writer’s salon in London next week. Even so, I really do need to get out more. Just too busy.