An up and down week, yesterday I did nothing at all but today I have managed two pages of Emily Swann plus the 750 words thing plus this so I’ll chalk that up as a success. Doing well with the reading; I wish it was as easy to write! I think we all become writers because we love books and reading and it just develops out of that. I remember reading The Wizard of Earthsea when I was still at school and absolutely loving it! Its still one of my favourite books. The stupid teacher I had to report back to didn’t believe I’d read it until I gave her chapter and verse of the characters and the plot! She said she thought it was too difficult for me; guess again sister!
But anyway, still struggling with Emily Swann. I am making progress but like a snail with a wooden leg its coming on really slowly. Haven’t been blogging every day, forgot to write my diary yesterday as well so that’s a bust. The only thing I’ve done consistently every day is read. Have managed to read a poem every day and other stuff too. Did sign up for a web site called She Writes; it looks quite good but I need to investigate further. This is a picture of me with Remmie (my Remington typewriter).
Oh no! For the first time since I joined ROW I missed a check-in! On Sunday I kept thinking “Oh I’ll do my check-in later” and the net result was that it didn’t get done at all. Been really struggling with Emily Swann. Have done the occasional page but not nearly enough. I’ve just been feeling really apathetic. Everything seems too much effort. Thankfully, felt better today so I finished typing up chapter three. I just have to revise it on the computer now.
Also my printer cartridges finally arrived so I was able to print out chapters one and two and spot all the typos I’d made! But at least I think I’m making progress again. Its funny that in the last round of ROW I gave myself more goals and in this round I have less but I’m achieving a lot less as well. I stopped blogging every day but I think I might start doing that again. I used to do my blog for about half an hour and then spend about an hour on my novel. I guess I used the blog as a kind of warm-up which seemed to work.
I’ve stopped writing my diary every day as well so I think I need to start doing that again. I’ve also reduced my amount of reading to one poem a day; not sure about changing that. Before I was reading two poems a day but I found I was just skimming and not really taking them in so I might just stick with the one for now.
So the changed goals are every day I will: work on Emily Swann, read at least one poem, write a blog post, read at least one chapter of a book (any book) and write my diary.
On a very positive note, my cat Widget had an appointment at the animal hospital today and her temperature has gone down and her blood sugar has gone down as well so she’s well on the way to recovery!
When we picked up Widget from the Animal Hospital yesterday the vet gave us some medication for her. I love the relaxed way that the vet said you need to give her these tablets and an insulin injection. I thought fine, I’ll just borrow a tracking team to locate her and the Israeli army to wrestle her to the ground first then, shall I?
So last night at about eight o’clock Gary held a wriggling squirming cat while I managed to force three pills down her throat and then give her an insulin injection. About ten minutes later Gary found a soggy pill on the carpet so we had to grab her all over again and force the last pill down her. We’re supposed to give her the insulin about every twelve hours so I got up at about eight the next morning (early for me!) especially to give her her jab and tablets.
Nothing doing! She saw me coming and shot off like a flash of lightning on legs! I chased her downstairs when she doubled back and shot back up the stairs with me puffing behind. She then bolted under the wardrobe somewhere. I couldn’t even see her less still get her out so I had to just leave her there because we had to go out.
We got back about half past ten and she came to sniff the shopping bags and see if we’d got anything for her so we grabbed her straightaway and managed to adminster all the pills and the injection. But we still have to do it all over again this evening!
Did manage to finish the second chapter of Emily Swann though. Started on chapter three but only managed half a page before Widget came down demanding some food. Let her out in the back garden, put some washing on and changed her litter and that’s been about my day so far!
Picked up Widget (see above) from the Animal Hospital today and she’s sooooo much better. Gary and I are both so relieved because last Friday it looked like she wasn’t long for this world! Now she has a bandaged paw and a shaven belly but apart from that she seems okay.
Gary and I have both been having trouble sleeping because we’ve been so stressed worrying about her. Now at last I feel that things are getting back to normal. Did two pages of Emily Swann yesterday and managed one page on Sunday so it hasn’t been a total washout but it hasn’t been that great either.
My new goal is to edit at least one chapter of Emily Swann a week. Until Friday when Widget became ill I was on target for that one but obviously I’ve slipped behind a bit now. I’m not beating myself up for putting the health of my little Widget before my long term writing goals because I believe what I did was right and I’d do it again exactly the same way if I had to!
This week started great but has deteriorated really quickly. On Friday our beloved cat Widget was sick three times during the day and by Wednesday night was so poorly she had to struggle to get upstairs. So Saturday morning Gary and I took her straight to the vet. The vet said she was so poorly she needed immediate hospital treatment so we rushed her up to the animal hospital. They said they needed to do some blood tests and they’d ring us when they had the results which should take about an hour.
I was weeping when I handed Widge over to the vet at the hospital and Gary was crying so hard on the way home he could hardly drive. When the vet rang I leaped on the phone. They said that Widget had pancreitis and possibly diabetes as well. She was very ill and had to be put on a drip. On Saturday they just kept her on the drip to get her fluids up and they said they’d start the treatment today.
What happens next depends on whether she responds to the treatment. The vet said that she might not respond to the treatment which would leave us only one horrible alternative. Hopefully that won’t happen. Obviously we’re both hoping she makes a full recovery but we mustn’t delude ourselves to the difficulty. She is not a young cat either. The vet kept saying the treatment was going to be very expensive and it made me want to scream at him “I don’t care about the bloody money; I just care about the cat!”
Because of all this I have not got much writing done. I managed just over a page yesterday but that was all. Not surprisingly, I was not in the mood. Have done bugger all today as well. I can’t really concentrate. As you probably know, I can’t have children but its bad enough having a sick pet; I don’t think I could cope with a sick child! The worry is just so stressful!
Gosh it’s only Wednesday and I’m doing well; much better than I thought in fact. Did only one page today but it was the last page of chapter two. Yesterday I managed four pages! Did two and a half pages on Monday and just one page on Sunday. That’s still eight and a half pages of editing in about four days!
I wanted to finish the final revision of Emily Swann in this round of ROW but I’m beginning to realise that that is an impossibility. I’ve realised with editing that I need time and space to revise things properly. I tend to do a bit and then look at it the next day because on the day I’ve typed it I can’t really tell what needs changing. If I wait a day it just becomes clearer to me what is working and what isn’t. This does mean that it takes me about a week to edit each chapter and I’ve got thirty-six chapters to do! So by my reckoning it will take me about nine months to finish.
I don’t know why I was in such a hurry; perhaps its because I’m getting old. I’ll be forty-seven in June and I sometimes worry that I’m running out of time which is probably silly. I think I’m learning to accept that it will take as long as it takes to finish Emily Swann. I am determined not to rush it too much so that it comes out all wrong. I would be unhappy with myself if I sent it out before it was as good as I could possibly make it. I’m making good progress so I refuse to beat myself up for not making swifter progress!
Having a bit of a frustrating day because my printer’s not working so I can’t print off my first chapter. I think it’s finished but I need to read it (hard to read off the screen) to know properly. I haven’t used the printer for a while so I suspect the ink has just dried up. Spent ages cleaning the heads and all that stuff but it didn’t make the slightest difference. I’ve now ordered some new cartridges so hopefully that will fix the problem.
I will be very pleased if I have finished the first chapter. This will (hopefully) be the final edit before I send it off to my friend who is an agent. I think I’m on the fifth edit but it might be the sixth; to be honest, I’ve lost count. But the revision/editing process has been going on so long that I’m getting bored to death of it! I like writing first drafts: I do not like editing!
Still, I am getting on with it. My main motivation now is to get it finished so I can go back to writing a lovely first draft again. I’m being very strict with myself and making myself only work on one project at a time. Finish what you’re working on, Janet Parfitt! That’s what I say to myself. Someone, I forget who, said the difference between novelists and other people is that novelists finish the books they’re writing!
Incidently, I know we all have doubts about our work so I thought you’d like to know that it isn’t just us. James Joyce’s wife Nora had to sustain serious burns pulling a draft of his first novel Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man from the fire and there’s an interview with Steven King in today’s Sunday Times where the journalist says that King’s wife pulled his first novel Carrie out of the trash and persuaded him it was good enough to be published!
First check in of this round and I’m not doing too badly. I’ve finished my outline of Emily Swann. It’s not set in stone so I can tweak it when I want and I have tweaked it twice already! But I’ve got all the main plot points worked out and worked out the timeline as well so that’s good. I’m still working on editing the first chapter (again!) but I did do two more pages today and about a page and a half yesterday. Would have done more yesterday but in the evening I started to feel a bit unwell so I went for a lie-down instead.
I finished reading The Fire in Fiction by Donald Maas which is a good book about how to improve your writing and I recommend it. I’m not making the kind of lightning progress I’d like to make but I am making progress so I shouldn’t complain too much!
Well the next round of ROW starts today so I thought I’d better hop on board. I’m cutting my goals down to the bone for this round. I’ve decided to focus on only my most important objective, so for this round my goal is to finish Emily Swann (my novel). I finished the first draft in about two months but the editing process has been going on for five months already and I’m still a long way from being finished.
I think the problem was that I decided to try and work as a ‘pantser’ but it just didn’t work for me. Now I’ve almost finished doing the outline that I so desperately need and once that’s sorted I think I’ll be able to see the wood for the trees and separate the whole thing in chapters. This should make it easier because it will be in nice do-able bite sized chunks so I’ll be able to focus on editing one chapter at a time and getting that perfect before moving on to the next one instead of trying to edit the whole thing in one big chunk which was just not working and leaving me feeling overwhelmed.
So no more ‘pantsing for me! I have to face the fact that I just prefer to work with an outline. It was nice to try out something different but it didn’t work. At least now I have a better idea of what works for me. So my first minor goal is to finish my outline; I’m just working out the timeline of my novel now which is proving to be trickier than I thought. Anyone know how long a broken leg takes to heal?
Hope to finish my outline by Sunday and then it’s just the Mount Everest of editing the chapters one by one. I hope at least that when I get started I’ll feel like I’m making progress and finally have the end in sight. I now have not one but two styes in my left eye because I’ve been stressing too much over this stuff!