Friday, 18 March 2011

Stuff, nonsense and Fern Britton

What a horrible week! Actually, what a horrible month...R broke his arm three weeks ago so his blood glucose levels have been high, high, high. Monday saw R and I off to our local hospital A&E to get it all checked out - further blood tests and examinations. Of course everything came back as normal so it's just the arm that's making him run so high.
Then this morning I set off to work in our car which was only returned from the repair shop yesterday (did I mention I crashed it when exhausted a couple of weeks ago? I was only doing 10mph but had a collision with a cast iron barrier which isn't good for tyres or suspension). One mile down the road the car became very noisy and I discovered a flat tyre. Hooray. I swapped cars - we still have the hire car so I took that to work.
And then two miles down the road there was a hold up - a crash.
I reached work half an hour late. The first seminar of the day was a write off.

I did what any writer ought to do and turned it to my advantage - I headed off to one of the University cafes and had a large mocha. I also got out my notebook and began to worry that I've forgotten how to write. It's been so long since I've simply sat and thought about things other than Diabetes, family stuff or my teaching jobs.

Feeling like I've forgotten how to write makes it feel like a bit of me has gone - lost somewhere in the mess of my life. Now like all good stories I've got to pick up the threads and find my way back to me.

How dramatic!

Next week sees the launch of an anthology of Prose Poetry entitled 'Slantways' three of my poems are included. It's in aid of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation and I'm really pleased and proud to have been a part of all this. But it's also reminding me that I'm no nearer to completing a collection of poetry or finishing the novel.

I need to set myself a series of goals - a timetable. I must finish the second draft of the novel by the end of the summer. I plan to hide myself away in the University library where I'll get some peace and quiet and just write. I know I need to map out each chapter, review what I've got so far, make some decisions about the plot, the story and character arcs, genre....oh, the big plans I had for it. What happens when, where and why. I need to get back into the story. Maybe I need to do a little research, or is that just procrastination? I need something to make it.....zing
What a terrible word - zing.
Okay, so I need to.....
1. Re-read the entire manuscript.
2. Map the manuscript - what happens where, the order of events.
3. Identify plot holes, points of development and so on.
4. Identify themes, motifs - what needs to be drawn out, ditched, tightened up.

And I'm reminded of The One Show the other night; they had Fern Britton on to plug a novel she's written. She explained how as part of her publishing deal an editor came to see her every month and essentially held her hand throughout the writing process. She was given guidance on how to map her story, what to put where and in short, how to write a saleable novel. Of course because she's already a celebrity she has an audience and a guaranteed readership. She's also not stupid so her novel hasn't been ghostwritten but instead just helped along the way.
I was still jealous listening to how much help she received. I am only human after all.

But I bet Fern doesn't break cars like I do.

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