Friday, 26 June 2015

Tough love

Wow, it's been a bit of a time of lost focus as I've let my latest novel stew, and have got on with writing reports instead.

I've not yet reapplied to the womentoring project, as I think my work needs a bit more TLC (TLC here means: ripping apart and beginning again. The art of tough love..?)

I have, however, read through my first draft. I discovered quickly that for some reason Scrivener had missed out at least half the chapters. Doing battle with technology is one of my least favourite things, so I rather daftly read the half I'd got, made copious notes about how I need to fix the structure, tighten things up, cut things, and insert sub-plots...all based on half a book.

Anyway, the technical support at Scrivener enabled me to rescue my lost chapters, although I don't know how to reinsert them into the project. I think they have somehow been 'categorised' as something within the program - I can't be more technical than that - and though I now have a paper copy of everything (phew!) I now need to go back for more support and wrestle again.

Is it worth it? The extra stress and barrier to production? I'm not 100% sure yet. When I'm trying to sort out technical problems, the answer is no. But I did enjoy working with the program, and having my corkboard of notes, and the way it compiled (half of) the finished draft into something that was formatted well was exciting.

So I'm not going to judge, yet. Let's see how it goes when I try to fix the problem, which I've obviously inadvertently caused.

Next job on my list, then: read the book, the whole book and nothing but the book (till I've finished)...and keep mulling over a sub-plot for my lovely hero, who must be a little more rounded (without the application of doughnuts) and be a little more the kind of boy everyone will fall in love with...

It sounds so easy, and feels so difficult! I might have to try the tough love on myself to stop procrastinating!

Friday, 5 June 2015

Finding encouragement

I was feeling blue last time I posted, due to the way my work had sneakily transformed itself into something only fit for the bin while I've been looking the other way.

I'm still reluctant to read on - fearing more of the same. But one of my procastinating activities was to read a book which had won a prize in roughly the genre I write in.

I was told to expect a twist; I was told that this author is very skilled. So I bought the book, despite it costing more on the kindle than the usual books I buy.

And then I started to read. And it was bad. It was poorly written, inaccurate to the point of annoyance (certain aspects of the main character's life matched mine, and this then led to a lot of frustration when it was clear that the author had no idea what she was talking about). It was sketchily edited too - I was irritated by such small details as a day that seemed to skip to nighttime when it was lunchtime, and someone described by the POV character as having their back turned, and their face fuller than usual. Excuse me? How can you tell if they have their back to you? And how come no-one picked up on this before publication?

This book has good reviews; author endorsements from writers whose books I admire; and it's a high seller. So perhaps I'm the one who is wrong, when I think the characters are very cliched and two dimensional, and the dialogue unrealistic and aggravating...?

Obviously, I've no room to talk, with my current difficulties. But actually, this average book gave me a confidence boost.

For a start, I could identify - quite clearly - many of the things that broke my trust as a reader. If I can identify them in someone else's work, I'm getting closer to knowing what is wrong with my work, and when I see that, I'm closer to fixing it.

Then I saw that there is hope for me. Hope that with polishing, I can be better than that. Hope that I might find a readership - people who appreciate my writing, even if I'll never be a Keyes or Moriarty (both of whom I think are excellent writers).

What gives you encouragement when you're frustrated? And have you found any 'poor' books recently? If not, I'd heartily recommend it to make you feel better!