about writing and life and God

Getting Ready

I have rearranged my study. I have sorted out the books on the shelves that face me when I’m at work at my desk and I’ve packed away the non-writing books, replacing them with relevant writing books and book files.

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Books packed away

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Research and admin folders

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Books to inspire!

And I’m beginning to feel better – ready to get down to work again on the novel.

I popped out to the supermarket to stock up on food and met my next-door neighbour as I was going in. I had come home from a meeting on Tuesday afternoon to discover that she had cut her own front lawn and then cut mine. She is slightly over eight months pregnant. Her last child weighed in on arrival at 10 lbs and she reckons this one will compete – so cutting grass astounded me. Just as well I was out! I’m sure I’d have scolded and protested!

She wouldn’t accept a lift home from the supermarket either. Walking, she said, would do her good. She preferred to be doing things. She was ready for the birth, she said. It’s time this one arrived.

And as I sort my study and lug heavy boxes of books into the storeroom, I recognise myself in my pregnant neighbour. I’m getting ready for the labour of getting Book 2 of the Mizpah Ring birthed and into the world. And like my neighbour, I’m impatient. Because it’s time!

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That second draft: is it progress?

My friend, currently in hospital receiving a variety of treatments, said this morning that she felt she was taking two steps forward and three steps back. I know the feeling though my situation doesn’t approach hers in any way. (If you’re a pray-er please badger God re “Dorothy’s writer friend in hospital”. He’ll know who you mean.)

Anyway, I’m determinedly trying to revise the new novel. As of Wednesday, I had 51 second-draft pages printed out. Then pole-axed as usual by my weekly visit to my husband at the care home, I settled in the garden to lick my wounds and read. I’ve got the latest Nicola Upson, London Rain, for light reading, and Jordan E. Rosenfeld’s Make a Scene: Crafting a Powerful Story One Scene at a Time for ‘work’ reading.

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Work in progress- and helper!

I confess what is perhaps a silly fear: that if I read anything too ‘heavy’ or detailed about the writing process while I’m in the middle of writing, I’ll become like the centipede who was asked how he managed to walk with so many legs and when he started to think about it ended up so overwhelmed, he fell over and couldn’t do it all! So the idea of looking at detailed analysis of how to ‘do’ scenes felt threatening.

But…instead of starting at the beginning (which is how I normally read books!), I scanned the contents page and discovered chapter 7 on Character Development and Motivation. I’d been feeling maybe I needed some help here so I got stuck in – and in moments had my notepad out and was scribbling as fast as I could descriptions of each of my main characters and what they want, what drives them. Job done, I turned to London Rain. (I’m enjoying it enormously.)

Then this morning when I went back to my novel, I knew I could not simply start where I had left off at page 52. I had to begin again at page 1 and I needed to create lots more dialogue, put in some description, set the scenes properly – now that I know my main characters so much better.

So I finish a fairly long day of significant redrafting and the last page of the print-out is only 22. No more than that. But…¬†they are pages I think will stay the course. There’s a new honesty about them as the characters’ true colours shine through. I’ve got a new confidence about the book. (No doubt this will dent sooner than later!) And even though it feels as if I’ve taken those steps back, the actual sum result is progress. And strangely enough an added 2,320 words.

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