about writing and life and God

Surprised by surprise

on July 24, 2013


Digital Image

Back to the big re-read of the novel first draft. And I am surprised. Truth to tell, I am frequently surprised when I return to something I have written and discover it ain’t bad. I wonder do other folk find the same thing?

I’m making loads of corrections, putting in links, tying up loose ends, seeing gaps that need to be filled. (I have a tendency to charge furiously onwards getting the plot down on paper first time round so I often miss necessary connectors or explanations.) I’m also accumulating a list of things that need to be checked:

  • did Great Yarmouth have street lights in 1921?
  • would newly-enlisted Danny have got married in his brand-new uniform in 1915?
  • when would the first catch of the day be brought to the yards for preparation?

And lots more.

But I’m enjoying it. It seems to flow nicely and is holding my interest and enthusiasm. But I’m a bit nervy lest the second half isn’t so good!

By some strange chance, the paper I’ve used for printing out this first draft is a hand-corrected version of my first book for carers (One Day at a Time) and as I turn the pages over, words catch my eye. I confess I have lingered briefly to read back what I wrote then… and once more am surprised.

I had forgotten just how terrible the caring-at-home years were. How exhausted and burnt-out I got. How isolated I was. In fact, just how bad it was. And I am amazed I ever actually did it. I am absolutely positive I couldn’t do it now. And my heart goes out to all those millions of at-home carers struggling to care and survive. Because it is truly grim. Even cruel.

And the world passes by on the other side.

I read the words I wrote in 2009/10 and wonder will I be just as surprised when I read the words of the next book, Still Caring, in a few years’ time and wonder how on earth I coped with this stage?




2 responses to “Surprised by surprise

  1. Fran says:

    I’m glad you’re enjoying the redraft. And I love that research thing where you have all those nitty-gritty questions to answer – it’s so interesting. Did you watch that programme about Ian Rankin writing a novel in which he let the camera crew follow the whole process? It was on BBC back in November. I found it so encouraging – he has to do all that loose end stuff too.

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