Have been very good and virtuous since the last check-in; read a poem every day, blogged every day, wrote my diary every day and edited one page of Emily Swann every day except Sunday (I never said I was perfect!). Also read the first chapter of a book called Plot and Structure; Techniques and Exercises for Crafting a Plot that grips Readers from Start to Finish by James Scott Bell. And I’m about a quarter of the way through A Game of Thrones.
Am planning to do an Arvon course this year; it’s something I’ve been thinking about for ages and I’ve finally decided to stop thinking about it and just do it. Will probably do that July/August time. Actually have a fairly busy year ahead of me. We’re going to Portsmouth for a few days at the end of March to have a holiday/research Emily Swann. Going to Ireland to visit my parents in June and then hopefully, we will be going to Greece in September/October time. Exciting!
Some days (rarely, I must admit) I race to the typewriter and can’t wait to get started on my writing but more often than not I sit at the computer and think of all the things I’d rather do and then tell myself off for a bit and finally get on with it. And some days I don’t even do that; I just sit around like an Apathetic Annie and do sweet FA! Of course, then I hate myself afterwards for being lazy and useless and then I get depressed and so I do nothing again. I go in fits and spurts with my writing depending on my mood and lately I’ve been doing nothing again.
I have, since mid December last year, edited about thirty pages so that’s not too bad but I always think I should have done more. I literally threw away my first chapter because when I read it back I realised it was slower than a snail on valium! I have expanded the sub-plots a bit as well because in the first draft I just went with the main story line and although I think that’s obviously important, I feel the sub-plots add texture and depth to the whole thing. My research threw up difficulties because I was writing about naval contracts in 1816, only to find that they didn’t really have naval contracts in those days and ship’s pursers bought supplies individually for each ship which made a difference to my plot and meant I had to re-write a lot of the beginning. Sometimes research can be a nuisance as well as a blessing.
In case you’re wondering what I’m talking about, the answer is …research! For a historian like myself research is one of the most absorbing and interesting things it’s possible to do. The novel I’m writing, entitled Emily Swann, is set in the Regency period and has sparked off a lot of research. For things I don’t know much about and the Regency period used to qualify, I start on the Internet. The net is good for an overview but you have to, as ever, be very careful about where the information comes from.
Then I go to the books; still,for my money, one of the best sources around. And in the spring Gary and I are going to Portsmouth (where the book is set) and I have just been in communication with one of the librarians at the Naval Museum in Portsmouth and she said I can go up there and look at their archives! I find this immensely exciting! Gary and I will obviously look round the museum as well. He enjoys the research almost as much as I do. I will probably look round the Victory again but Gary would find that difficult as nineteenth century ships are not known for their disabled access. It’s a bit of a shame because if he could get round I’m sure he’d enjoy it.
I’ve still got lots of research to do. I’m going to go to the Jane Austen Museum and the Fashion Museum (both in Bath) and probably the American Museum (just outside Bath) as well. I’m lucky I live in Bath which has such a wealth of Regency stuff for me to look at. Good luck to anyone else whose involved in research!