It’s been a frustrating week because, although I have put in a lot of hours, I don’t have a stellar word count to show for it. All the work has been in areas around it.
My focus was threefold:
For the first time I felt the confidence to apply for an Arts Council Literature Bursary Award for the next book I plan to work on.
Actually, that’s not accurate. What happened was that I was persuaded by several friends to download the form and then grumbled my way through the entire application process like a sulky teenager.
My God but it was difficult. The 16-page guidelines, the nebulous (to me) questions on the form itself, the pressure to convey one’s worth when most writers can’t even take a compliment on their work from a friendly face. I found it excruciating and only got through thanks to considerable support and encouragement from my Crawfies writing group, my Doolin gang and fabulous writer and human Olivia Fitzsimons, who spoonfed me the answers.
Then there was a glitch with uploading the form because the site was down for 12 hours, and our household had incompatible technology for the very specific software requirements. Well, at least it’s in now and if nothing else I’ve been forced to put together something that resembles a synopsis and agent’s pitch letter for much further down the line.
File size emergency
My manuscript has gotten too big. I’ve noticed recently that the master document I work from has been getting very sluggish, and every time I go to another tab, the whole thing reloads from scratch. It reached crisis point the other evening when I tried to change the footer details, and it kept crashing. I email myself a backup at the end of every day, but still…
I’ve been interested in using the Scrivener novel writing app because I can see the practicality in separating out chapters rather than endless scrollllllllling, but it’s unfortunately not an option as I work on Chromeback which is incompatible.
So I spent a day or so trying to figure out a solution to my ever more incapacitating issue. I didn’t want to have all my chapters in individual files as it would get messy and page numbers would be hard to keep track of. But the one big file was obviously asking for trouble. Finally, I thought of a simple solution – split the book in two. I now have a part 1 and part 2, and my lagging/reloading/crashing issues have magically vanished. I am my own IT department!
Through a circuitous route, I’ve had the opportunity to have my first couple of chapters read by someone who works in book publishing. This was fabulous because I’ve had sterling feedback and had to take the corrections in immediately while the suggestions and solutions were fresh in my mind.
But it was a bit toe-curling as well. I’m trying to plough on to the end of the first draft, working my way through it first to see where the major gaps or unnecessary information dumps are and to mark them for the next round. So there were entire paragraphs in the sample that would have been removed once I’d decided where to put them or whether to ditch them altogether. The early part of the book was written a few years ago when I was much greener than I am now (hopefully). Yikes. At least the troublesome areas the reader identified were the same parts I was unhappy with and they didn’t highlight new issues I wasn’t aware of. And every suggestion for improvement was on the nose, so I’m very grateful indeed. When it finally goes out on submission, I know I will have been spared several blushes.
No time for film watching this week, but I have been listening to a lot of Fred Astaire and Judy Garland. There really are few songs more exhilarating than The Trolley Song:
I’ve worked my way through half the manuscript now and have lots of lovely red marks for passages that will need more work. But I have a list and I love lists. There’s a large chunk coming up towards the end that will need to be written, but I feel immersed in the universe now and so many possible resolutions are occurring to me that I have Post-Its stuck everywhere.
I’ve got 77,611 words, 266 pages. Slightly less than last week, in fact, but then I’m cutting, writing and note-taking as I go along.
Want to read more? Week 4 is here.