Last minute stuff.

I’m not doing a ‘proper’ blog post this week, as I’m frantically busy trying to do a final, final, final proofread of Easy Living ahead of uploading for publication on 29th March.

If you’ve read what I’ve said about it previously, you’ll know I’ve been working on this book for a long time, and it’s very special to me. I’ve made it a lot longer. The first draft was about 80,000 words, and with all the successive drafts and rewrites, that grew to 110,000, even with a lot of waffly, woolly bits being cut out. As I sat down to give the final rewrite before Christmas, the total was up to 113,000. Now, with all my tidying and polishing done, it’s up to 116,000. I can’t help it. I tried to cut it, honest. You know what it’s like. The words keep flowing.

Anyone who’s daft lucky enough to self-publish will know how many little typos seem to sneak through no matter how many times the manuscript has been edited and proofed. I’m still finding a few stray typos, and I’m having a last trawl through for overused words, (my main guilty words are And, So, Well and But. I also have too many gasps of surprise and a lot of anxious biting of lips. This book also features several sexy chuckles!)  and culling some of my exclamation marks. I use far too many of those!!! At least six people have worked on this book, but even so, I’ve still found a couple of things to correct. I think I’ve done enough. I hope I’ve done enough. I’d like to work on it for another year or two, but really, I mustn’t. It’s always hard to let go of a book, but in this case, I feel like it’s almost there. As Nina Simone would say, ‘And I’m feeling good…’

To recover from the trauma of getting my eighth novel out there in the big wide world, Mr Caron Allan Author is whisking me off to Birmingham (UK, not Alabama) for an all-expenses paid weekend in a hotel near the city centre, so we are handy for a concert on Sunday night and breakfast at a Wetherspoons of my choice. There will be a sumptuous dinner the night before. There will be ice cream. There will be book browsing and possibly notebook purchasing. I can’t make any promises about restraint or budget-keeping.

Have a good one!

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Don’t you…forget about me…

Getting round to things. Those days—or for me, weeks, months, years—when you don’t get done those things you really want or need to do. I’m not talking about ordinary, everyday, common-or-garden procrastination; this goes way beyond that. I’m talking about those things that haunt your mind—you know you need to get to them—but somehow you just don’t.

Have you got boxes in your attic/dungeon/guest bedroom that have been there since you moved in? Less than a year doesn’t count, btw. That’s still more or less new. I’m talking about the really old ones you never forget—their very presence lurks just beyond the fringes of your perception. Their soft siren-calls come to you in the dead of night… ‘Don’t you…forget about me…’ (thanks to Billy Idol for that one.)

I’ve got stories that have been waiting for revision since the mid-1990s. In fact, I probably have some from the 1980s, or even earlier but I’m too scared to look. The knowledge that, unless I act now, in a couple of years those dusty old scripts will be able to club together and buy me a silver anniversary card is enough of a prod to make me actually prise open the drawers and start pulling out all those yellowed pages. And start reading.

What was I afraid of? I’ve no idea. All I can say is, I’m reasonably happy with what I read. Not full-blown, “Wow, I’m The Most Brilliant Writer EVER!” happy, but a quietly confident, “I don’t suck as much as I thought, and I can absolutely do something with this” happy.

As I said a couple of years ago, that for me 2015 is the year of writing dangerously. But in the end that was only the start of it all, not just of a year of extra effort, but of a new way of looking at my life and my approach to writing. Some of the dust-covers have had to come off for that. And as I pull off the dust-covers, underneath I behold…new ideas, fresh thoughts…twenty, even thirty years old it’s true, but fresh and new, and still so, so me.

And the things that made me stumble and give up all those years ago—plot holes, problems with language and expression—now, solutions quickly present themselves, the difficulties erased by time, a fresh eye, and above all else, experience. Suddenly, as the kaleidoscope of my mind turns on these ideas, things begin to slot into place and a picture is formed.

Which shows, sometimes it is better to wait. It ain’t over till it’s over.

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Choices, choices, choices – or, How To Be Your Own Worst Enemy

I’m stuck between two equally appealing choices.  Do I stick with the first draft I’m working on that has finally, after 18 tricky chapters, begun to gather speed and a life of it’s own, or do I set that aside for two or three months and go back to begin rewriting a completed first draft, which I’ve rashly announced will be available to the public by the end of September?

This is not normally a problem for me as I don’t usually work on two books at once.  But this year I’ve had more time for writing and things have got a bit out of hand.  I remember years ago, a writer who wrote two distinctly different series under different names (who was that woman?) used to have two desks, one for each author/series.  She would ‘become’ the appropriate writer, according to which desk she sat down at.  She used the different physical spaces to inform her creative ability.  So does this mean I need a second desk?  I don’t know if I’m the right sort of writer to do that.  I mean, it might work for some of the time, those days when I woke up and I just knew who I was.  But most of the time it just wouldn’t work for me.  If I had two desks, I absolutely know I would end up writing somewhere else completely, because I hate making decisions, i often find it paralysingly difficult to make a decision between two choices.  Maybe it’s because as a Libran I can see both sides of the argument, I’m a pros and cons kind of gal.  The problem with seeing two sides to things is that you never actually get anything done.  Like a rabbit caught in the headlights, you are trapped between two choices.  What I need is for someone to tell me, this is what you’ve got to do.  But then, sometimes, that little rebel in me says to itself, “well, I’m not going to!”

In the end, what happens is that my inner editor pounds the desk (any desk) in frustration and shouts, “just pick one, dammit!”  and so I do, and I get on with it, all the time glancing back over my shoulder and wondering if the other story is greener.  I haven’t got to that stage with this current dilemma yet.  Still got another couple of days of paper shuffling and doubt before that happens.

carries messy mini desk