Friday, 30 December 2011

Slow progress, but actual planning.

Book 2 has started to come together. In a very small way, you understand, but my main character now has a name, there is a bit of a history of a village falling into place, and I understand the motivation of my main characters. Unfortunately, as usual, my 'bad guy' is working his charm on me and my narrator has a sly, nasty side. He might surprise me yet and prove to be the villain.
My tally so far of work: 805 words on Tuesday,406 on Wednesday,Thursday 706 words, but several hours of planning, card writing, family tree writing and charts as well. I don't know if I can bash it into shape enough by the end of March for Good Housekeeping, but I'll give it a go.
Normally, I come up with a name and the tiniest bit of plot, and I start writing. That leads to new ideas and they get written, too. The problem is, if the first ideas are rubbish, the whole thing has to be totally rewritten many many times. I'm trying to approach it from a different direction this time, by developing the story until I just have to write. So the snippets I have managed are scenes, or bits of scenes that might be useful and help me get into my characters. This way (hopefully) my characters will be consistently written and not evolve, change age, ethnicity and possibly gender, as they have before.

Tuesday, 27 December 2011

New resolution

I don't do New Year's resolutions. What's the point of starting the year with a failure? And I always fail. So, instead, I've had a good look at what motivates me to stay on track.

Deadlines. I'm deadline girl, give me the merest hint of a date and I set goals, over achieve and get the words done ahead of time. Easy peasy. So I've been through the Mslexia diary (lovely lovely diary, I recommend it) and selected a few deadlines, added in the MA and the AA100 assignment dates, thrown in a  few competitions for variety, and marked them on my super duper new year planner. The only place I had room for said planner was in the cloakroom, on the wall, but at least I get to sit down in there a few times a day and will notice the colour coded stars marked on it.
 The diary is £12.99 direct from Mslexia, by the way.

So, I have deadlines. the other thing I benefit from is publicly declaring my progress, either to family or by word counter. So, I'm pledging (for myself) to humiliate myself by declaring my word count (or lack of) everyday, either here, on Facebook or on the wall of shame in the cloakroom. I masterfully wrote 41 words today, before being stalled on my next book by a lack of story. It's all there in my head, but it's still forming from brainstorming sessions with the family, research, and ideas buzzing around in my brain. This might explain why I couldn't get to sleep until 4am and have a migraine.

Saturday, 17 December 2011

Too much to do to write!

I'm taking an unscheduled and, I think, reasonable break from writing for a few days. Tomorrow the boys and husband come home (the latter no doubt the worse for wear after the firm's pub crawl) and then we have 13 for dinner on Sunday.  I'm reading a fellow student's novel and am deep into that, am tired from filling the freezer with industrial quantities of Xmas snacks (none of which I like!). I have to get three bedrooms moved tomorrow, furniture and all, to accommodate all the kids and their partners... and we celebrate the winter solstice so everything has to be sorted and ready by Monday evening. Most of my army of helpers are away (the younger ones are at their grandparents to see a panto) so I'm busy busy!

What I really want to do is start my next novel...

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Starting AA100

I'm officially terrified. I've got the AA100 coursebooks from the Open University, along with the *gulp* assignment book. It seems strange to go back to level 1 but honestly, I have no arts training at all. I feel like I blagged my way entirely through the MA so far by working hard on my writing, but feel completely lost as far as my dissertation's rationale is concerned. I hope that the course will help me gain the language with which to describe how literature works. I always felt I was at a disadvantage compared to the English Literature graduates in the group.

The first book looks fascinating, but the assignments look scary! Because the OU has become infected with fee changes (more than trebled) I realised if I didn't sign up now I wouldn't get the old prices for my courses. Since I already the two writing modules at distinction, I would be able to get a lit degree in 3 years for less that the future cost of just one module! Crazy. So, despite some time limitations because I do have a book to edit...I'm looking forward to giving it my best shot. And I don't have to get distinctions, so I can concentrate on getting the most out of the courses instead of focusing entirely on assignments and scores.

Talking about time limitations - apart from being distracted by AA100 and  PD James's Death Comes to Pemberley (I can't work out if this is heresy or actually very good), I am reading a fellow student's novel. It's scary - because it's very, very good, and a lot more polished than my novel. I'm enthralled already, and I'm only half a dozen chapters in. I can see that I won't be working on my novel for a few days...

At home, the new book-room has an actual functioning door, and so does the dining room, finally squashing most of the draughts that rattle through the house. When people think a house is haunted because suddenly the temperature drops and a room has mysterious cold spots - that's our house. We either have a thousand draughts or a regiment of ghosts. And another bedroom has a new carpet, functioning door and paint job. No. 1 son will be pleased! 

Friday, 9 December 2011

Back to the dissertation

With all the excitement of competitions and the fourth edit of the book, I began to forget I'm supposed to hand in a 15-20k creative piece and a 4k rationale for my dissertation. I was going to hand it in at the end of September, but I reluctantly decided to defer for a year while my back got better. I feel confident, now, about the creative piece but the rationale has me stymied. I've only done two rationales before with mixed results (both, at least, passed). I wrestled with writing the two strands and interweaving them to make the book - maybe I could write about that? I don't know... I wish I was more clued up about literature and books and all the theory of writing rather than just the craft of writing. To this end, I've decided to take AA100, the arts foundation course, with the Open University. Maybe it will give me more idea of how to analyse books, even my own writing. So often I do something but couldn't tell you why, exactly, although I do consider the psychology and process of reading.

Meanwhile, the new study has just got a big book case for all my research and textbooks. Thank you, boys!

Monday, 5 December 2011

Good Housekeeping Competition

Good Housekeeping magazine, Jan 2012 issue (out now) is offering a £25000 prize for a first novel, as an advance, and an introduction to an agent. Now, I know a whole group of people who are wrestling with or planning to write a novel. This competition has a number of major advantages for all of us. 

  • It's deadline is 31st March so we have some time to polish or rewrite or, if you're very organised, even write a novel
  • It's free to enter except for buying the magazine
  • It's for any genre except children's
  • It starts with a 5000-10000 word submission, allowing more time to complete the rest of the novel.
Now, what's not to love about such a big prize for so little outlay and a do-able deadline? Anyone else going to give it a go?

Saturday, 3 December 2011

Back to work after a week off

I've had a great week organising Solstice/Christmas; travelling to the Isle of Wight where we used to live and catching up with friends and family; and enjoying reading. I can see the logic of treating reading as a part of the writing process, and prioritising it, but in practice I can only do one well, or the other! So, having enjoyed a few books for old times sake, and a couple of new ones for fun, I've really got to sit down and get back to editing. Since we had a plan to scale back Solstice and just have one tree, not go mad on presents and food etc. I can say we seem to have failed. Badly. The artificial tree wouldn't fit in our newly decorated living room so we went shopping for a new, more sensible sized one. The old one ended up in the dining room (because it's such a nice, if nine foot high, tree) and the old dining room one squeaked into my newly decorated, insulated and fixed up study. The kids wanted their little tree in the kitchen - we have four trees. We seemed to have missed downsizing the holidays by a mile. 

Meanwhile, I have been thinking about the sequel and how close I am to finishing (well, abandoning really) the first book. “Poems are never finished - just abandoned”,  Paul Valéry said, and he described how I see novels, too. There just comes a point when you can't polish any more, so you send it off, and the second you do you find a million mistakes. I think it's part of the process. The plan is to finish draft 4 by the end of December and start the new year with a round of submissions.  

Thursday, 17 November 2011

Changed gear

I've finally changed gear from writing fresh stuff to editing and honing the draft. It's hard to look at words you have read dozens of times before and to see them - or hear them - afresh. I'm listening, reading and reworking the lines and paragraphs and looking out for trite phrases (clichés, it turns out, are my speciality) and especially, repetitive use of favourite words. For example, I had a scene where my male character was trying to unlock his door. How many times did I manage to use the word 'lock' in three sentences? Four. And an 'unlock'. I cut the stupid lines in the end anyway!
I have a few confusing names - a Charley and a Carly, for example. I have some very long-winded chapters of the historical strand that need to be cut into chunks and threaded better through the contemporary strand. then, at some point, it will be done, finished, finito. In theory. Then, thank goodness, it can go off into the world like a five year old you hope and pray will remember his toilet training, and I can get on with the next book. I'm getting bored with this one, now.
Another thing I have neglected big time, is my poetry. Poetry makes me use my words better, and I would really like to get a few poems published. It's a whole new writing muscle, though, and there's a course at the Open College of the Arts which would be very useful. Something to work on once the book is out there.
Oh, and a very big thank you to Beth, who has read the book and fed back some useful stuff. More description of my characters - how many times have I heard that these last few weeks! 

Saturday, 12 November 2011

Where do you write?

I keep getting moved with the building work, and I seem to write differently in each location. Rewriting (not my favourite activity) needs a lot of concentration, somewhere quiet like the room I used to have as a study, but that's a bit of a building site at the moment. My desk is stuck in a  sunny bay window at the moment, which makes seeing the screen very difficult, not to mention the noise from the team hammering and sawing next door. It's a good environment for new ideas - I seem to have half a dozen next novel ideas going around my head. Not to mention ideas for poetry.

Meanwhile, the study is finally warm, the draughts have been patched up and a proper floor laid, and the ceiling has been insulated. The smell of sewage seems to be a thing of the past, and the cloakroom is getting a paint job. Now I just have to find places to put everything that normally lives piled up in heaps and old boxes in the old room. Hopefully, getting back to a quiet corner of the house will help with the tidying and rewriting!  

So, where do you write? 

Wednesday, 9 November 2011


Editing is painfully boring - going over each sentence and word, reading it aloud until you are cross-eyes, looking for better ways of saying things. I find it difficult, mostly because I start to question whether I need a particular word - sentence- paragraph - actually, what the hell is this chapter for, anyway? If I'm not careful, the chapter can be whittled away to nothing. Somewhere along the whittling process is an improved draft, but it's tricky knowing when to stop. 
I'm reading my Revision and Self-Editing book, but it doesn't make the process any easier! I've done chapter 27, and am working on chapter 28. That just leaves chapters 1-26 and 29-end to do. Sigh. Distractions beckon - I have wiped out legions of zombies this morning, and eaten too many cookies. 

Monday, 7 November 2011

House in chaos and me with it.

I know people say if your room is in a mess your head is too - this may be true at the moment. The whole house has been in a crazy mess for months, as we completely redecorate and sort out rooms. Getting the deadline for the Mslexia submission made me work, but now I'm a bit lost.

A friend said (closer to Halloween) that our house is a bit Gothic and it's true, no happy little moppets toil up the long, dark drive past the black end wall, towering three stories over the cliff, in the hope of Halloween candy. Jehovah's witnesses rarely make the trip either. It always sounds like we're millionaires, with eighteen rooms, and more than an acre of garden. Hah! You have to be a mountain goat to get up the garden, even if you could get through the brambles. Most of the rooms were terrible when we moved in and the reassuring munch of woodworm helped drown out the scamper of ratty feet in the loft...We liked the bats streaming out from the eaves (and riound the house, at first), fortunately, but I get what she means. From inside it's a modest little house because all the rooms are small and so crooked you can't put furniture in without it sagging against the corners or running downhill to the south-east. I believe I could afford a two bedroomed house in Winchester with what we paid for this house...

I did send out four poems for the Plough Prize (no harm trying) and I have a number of magazines to submit work to, but I'm feeling a bit lost and unfocused, which exactly describes my house! I know I have to go through the book and make sure all the 'setups' match with 'reveals'and invest in some description. Not my strong point. Back to work.

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Worked it out

It turns out I have discovered the way I have to write a book. It's the least sensible, structured way I could think of, but there, I get there in the end.

  • First I start a story with huge enthusiasm, and write for weeks in  a creative fever. Then all the loose end and impossibilities that creep in slow me down, I fill with doubt and I slow, the stop.
  • Then I start again, rewrite. The old draft is a springboard for the new but here's the trick. All the problems are embedded in the first draft so I need to really write all over again. Most of my problem scenes have been a result of just editing old prose. The second draft powers on another 20k then falters. 
  • Start another rewrite. This time the first 40k just needs extensive editing, the last 20k needs a complete rewrite and that propels me into the next 20k.
That's where Borrowed Time is now. I really need to edit, prune, cut and tidy extensively, and possibly rewrite the last quarter of the book by starting another rewrite. Unfortunately, in the last  few days I have written/edited 22000 words and my hand is so swollen and painful I'm down to one finger and have to use the mouse with my left hand.

In another bit of good news (they just keep coming!) I have a children's story being published in Vortex.

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Wow, sleepless nights

I feel dazed. Three nights staying up until 3 or 4 in the morning, working flat out. The book is done and dusted, ready to go off, and I have a clear view of how to improve it for publication. It's a bit flabby, I could trim 10% of the words and it would be better, but the main thing is saying - it's good enough. There's a plot, characters, and a story arc. Wow. I did it.
Last year I started an MA. Friends and family, on the whole, were on a continuum from 'Good for you' to 'What on earth are you doing? Are you mad/selfish/stupid?' My answer to the latter, and (a few of them were very critical), was I wanted to finish a book to a good standard. No matter how much I tried, I just couldn't hold the whole book in my head and I couldn't plot.
I'm not sure the MA helped with any of that, but it gave me a discipline about putting my writing high up my priority list, and showed me how to improve my writing. So here's a raspberry for those who told me I was wasting my time and neglecting my family. And a huge hug to the people who supported me, from belief in my writing to those who think that, good or bad, we should be allowed to spend time and money on our interests. And to Russell, who never wavered or doubted, my love and gratitude. Words finally fail...  

Sunday, 30 October 2011

Longlisted for the Mslexia novel competition!!!!

I've just spent a few hours wandering around in a  daze, occasionally saying 'Oh My God.'
I didn't get an email from Mslexia and I knew the longlist was out, so I (unsurprised) carried on pottering with the book. For some reason (baffling) they sent the email to my husband instead, presumably because he took out the subscription for me a few years ago.

This is to let you know that your novel has been longlisted for our inaugural novel competition. Congratulations! This means we now need to see the complete manuscript, plus a synopsis of up to 1,000 words. Can you please let us have these as soon as possible, preferably by 1 November. I’m sure you understand that it takes much more time to assess a complete novel than it does a 5,000 word extract, so the panel needs to start immediately.

 If you are unable to let us have the novel for any reason – if it is unfinished, or has been accepted for publication in the meantime – please let us know as soon as possible.

 Please send the novel, printed out onto one side of A4 paper, double spaced, point size 11 or 12, to our office at Mslexia Publications
 Now, can you see the tiniest flaw with this delightful and flattering, and completely unbelievable email??? I was sent this on the 27th but I only got it this evening. Allowing for the donkey postal service across North Devon, if I post it first thing Monday it might (might being rather a strong word for a remote possibility) get there by the 1st. OK, there's the word 'preferably' but the problem for me is that I'm not sure I'm quite ready to send all 90k words off in the next (consults fingers) thirty-two hours. That doesn't even allow for checking grammar, spellings, repetitions, printing time, kissing every page, wrapping it up and walking down to the post office. I could send in the second draft with the few modifications from the third draft, but the latest draft is 8 million times better.
So instead of dawdling through the latest rewrite at a chapter a day, I have to do...more than one chapter an hour. So, if I sleep four hours each night...that's about one and a half chapters an hour with five minutes refreshment breaks per hour. Oh. My. God. Did you see the 1000 word synopsis? Now that - I could manage in 32 hours, no problem. Thank God for no.1 son, who is on cliche patrol.

Sunday, 23 October 2011

At 87,000 words and all downhill from here!

Having written my big dramatic scene, now I need reaction scenes and rounding the story off. While I'm happy with the main strand, I'm having to go back to look at the historical strand and seriously look at editing the first few chapters down. Otherwise the book is going to be too big, and I need to make sure the historical strand stays secondary throughout the book. I really feel like I know my main character much better now, and also know I have to toughen Felix up too. 

I'm enjoying doing the house up again. We're halfway through renovating our old house, and we're finding the character in it. Our new wood-burner is warmer than the inadequate heating in the front room, and the kids now have their own shower in the loft, so we can take out the mould collection that is festering in the room next to our bedroom. My favourite 'rainy afternoon' book is Thornyhold by Mary Stewart, and the star of the book for me is the actual house. This one reminds me enough of it to enjoy the rambly corners and creaky stairs! Yet more decorating coming up, though, but at least my back is up to the job...

Monday, 17 October 2011

Last few chapters

I'm at 78, 336 words. I'm pleased to finally be writing action I have actually planned and it (mostly) matches up with the middle chapters now. If there's one thing that I've been aware of it's the paucity of my descriptions and settings. having spent the entire book being asked 'but what does your main character (MC) look like?' I've finally worked out how to introduce her before I have to resort to her staring in a  mirror. I allow my other MC see her right at the opening of the book. Of course, the last eight chapters are essentially in first draft, but I'm working at a good pace and just want to get the framework down. It's interesting to me that the more hours I spend writing, the better my first draft words are. I'm more conscious of my tendency to fall in love with a word and use it everywhere, for example. It's not unusual for me to squeeze one word into two places in the same sentence, for example. For example, I have a bit of a thing, for the word example.

I'm also into the action scenes (my no. 1 son insists in calling it 'the fight scene') which is a relief after all that dialogue. I don't think action scenes are going to be my superpower, though. I'm also very conscious that there is a line between drama and melodrama. I just wish I knew where it is. I do have a small scene where for a change, I step away from my very close character POV writing to a bit of omniscient narration. I hope it gives a breather for the reader between the (hopefully) very suspenseful 'fight scene' (which I am struggling with) and the suspense of the aftermath. Action scenes are a bit like car chases, I think, they often work better in pictures than words. I have a list of 'boy' books to read to get my head around the idea. I also have a book on how to write action, so I'm dipping into that, too.

Conflict, Action and Suspense by William Noble is from the Elements of Fiction Writing series and I recommend them all. I seem to be reading more books on writing as I go through, which I hope will just sink in and improve my writing, because I can't seem to remember much once I've put them down!

Tuesday, 11 October 2011


Every autumn, great groups of jackdaws collect on the ridge opposite our house and fly backwards and forwards, making an amazing racket. They are so beautiful, they are amazing flyers, often falling deliberately in pairs and just pulling out along the valley floor. I think they are lovely birds, so neat in black and grey, and they outwit my cats all the time. They are so entertaining, I named my heroine after them. Here a group broke away and flew overhead.

Sunday, 9 October 2011

New ideas

I was reading from my long list of new supernatural books, and was struck by the amazing locations people use to set their stories in. Mine seems painfully pedestrian, and my next rewrite/edit of the book must include some better settings and also a bit more creepy darkness. Jack seems to spend a lot of time cooking and shopping - not very Gothic or scary. I wanted to use Dartmoor or Exmoor, but then I run into trouble with the absence of trains. So I'm thinking about places like Eggesford and Morchard. Wooded, hilly and wild, with relatively few people.

Meanwhile, I'm up to 67,000 words which is very satisfying and I'm now having to write original scenes to connect the big dramatic ending to the re-animated middle. I just need to work on building the new scenes up. I still can't plan them out in any detail, I have to kind of hold the whole plot in my head and extend out a bit further each time. 
I have planned out the Dee strand, though, and have five chapters still to write. The Dee chapters and Jack's chapters don't connect up any more, but hopefully once I've got to the end, I can weave them together a bit better. Sadie's voice is coming through loud and clear, though, and I feel like I know her better. I have a nasty feeling I'm going to be trimming the book down an awful lot, the new scenes are very first draft and very wordy. 

Friday, 7 October 2011

Past 60 thousand

Finally, I'm into the home straight with the book, because I've got about 15 thousand words written to add and another chunk planned out already. Now all I have to do is weld them together, so I should have all the new writing done by the end of October. This is at an average of 1000 words a day, do-able I think. Meanwhile, the theme for the family is definitely do up the bloody wreck we live in, since there isn't a nicer house anywhere near the price. It's coming on nicely, we now have three lovely rooms and have even worked on the garden a bit too. Next week, two helpful plumbers will install real heating on the top floor,and a new bathroom as well. Should be good, but I hate having people in doing work. Not to mention having to pack up and remove almost everything from three rooms two flights of stairs away. Well, obviously, I make the beleaguered kids and husband do that, I don't want to risk my back... We did mange to find two lovely offcuts of carpet for youngest daughter's room, and for my 'study'.
This grand apartment did have a slight sewage seeping through the floor issue...hopefully resolved. The remaining floor is full of dips and hollows and the most disgusting carpet known to man. It would be lovely to decorate that room, put down my new carpet. It will make my vague scribbling seem rather out of place!

Monday, 3 October 2011

Reading through my earlier drafts...some good stuff

I'm enjoying writing the third draft but have found some lovely lines in previous drafts which are finding their way in. A scene where the cops knock on the door early one morning, while the house has been wrecked, and they try to explain it as extreme decorating was fun and has found its way back in. So the word count is sneaking up, probably past where it needs to be.

Our dining room has been finished, and now has the most beautiful of furniture items, a custom made row of bookcases. Not that I have had much time to read. but I have had been trying to read other supernaturally themed books. I started with this one: The Ninth Circle by Alex Bell. I enjoyed it enormously, but felt it was setting up to a sequel (which it may not be!) rather restricting the ending. It's a thought to remember for my own book, since the first book I wrote about these characters would make the bones of a sequel. Hugely imaginative, I felt drawn into the world of the characters. My one thought about the characters is that the character of Mephisto, for example, was rich, interesting and compelling, perhaps more than the central character, Gabriel. Well worth a read! 

The other book that has been keeping me awake at night is called Angelology by Danielle Trussoni. Present day action is inter-cut with a big dose of historical back-story, the two narratives being woven together at the end. I could see the 'twist' very early on, which was disappointing, but otherwise the book grabbed my attention early on and kept going until the end. The prologue was an absolute attention grabber, really drags you in, although you don't return to the mysterious find until the middle of the book. I think the historical chunk is very big, very detailed and perhaps I lost interest a bit in the main story when it ended. Perhaps spreading my historical chapters through the my book is better? For me, anyway! Recommended, and they are making a film! 

Both these books were début novels, and the vampires are out, angels are in trend seems confirmed. Good background for me.

Friday, 30 September 2011

Enjoying the journey again

Having slumped through the middle chapters tying up loose ends and travelling with my heroes through the story, we're back on familiar ground, and I am able to re-use (although still rewrite) scenes and chapters. Which is exciting, and has pushed the book on to 52k words, which is more than halfway (I hope).

I'm also reflecting on the last four weeks, when I haven't blogged much because I was in a strange place. I have had a painful back since last December, which I expected to follow its normal healing course. It improved, then got worse again, twice. Finally, it just got stuck, and before my GP could send me off to see a surgeon, she had to run some tests to rule out serious illnesses, like, say myeloma. The tests came back positive.

Well, that's just a few blood tests, and they had to be repeated, and new tests added before ... well, before. So having had the 'hopefully it isn't myeloma' talk from the GP, I was sent home to wait for the weeks it takes for the tests to come back.

My first impulse was to call a friend, brother, daughter, someone, just to talk it over. But ... talk over what, exactly? In the end, my husband and I sat down and talked and thought and talked some more. Myeloma isn't curable, although there are some treatments to delay death. So I looked at the possibility, from the comfortable position of uncertainty, and we found some peace with it. Two years ago, I went to a workshop run by another psychologist called Gill Edwards. She, and other people, have been diagnosed with cancer and chosen not to get on the chemotherapy rollercoaster, and most of them had done better than expected. I would never suggest that anyone refuse treatment, but I wouldn't condemn someone for wanting to control their own destiny.

Anyway, much to my relief, the tests all came back normal. In fact, it's a puzzle for my GP, and the errant test (when it comes back) is almost certain to be normal too. She's very relieved (it must be horrible to deal out bad news) and even more surprised to find that the bad back of nine months started to clear up when I got the first set of tests. Four days later, it was fragile but pain-free and I was walking upright. Maybe the threat of myeloma kick-started my self-healing, self-preservation instincts!

While I was considering mortality, I realised something very important. Yes, I love my children, but they will survive without me. I adore my husband, and would hate to leave him, but he would move on in time. But no-one else can write my book.   

Sunday, 25 September 2011

Mslexia Competition

I've been tarting up - sorry, polishing - my first 5000 words for the Mslexia novel writing competition. It has made me focus on what makes a good scene. I'm a great fan of Noah Lukeman's 'The First Five Pages' which makes you look very critically at each scene. It has made me realise how weak the beginnings and endings of some of my scenes are. So I'm looking at each scene as if it were a mini story and trying to make each first and last line intriguing enough to make a reader (hopefully) want to read on. 

It's a depressing job, when I realise just how bad some of my last lines have been. But it is coming together. After a week of almost no real pain, having even a small amount over the weekend has been a bit depressing. I need to go back to some sort of writing routine, it seems to help!

Meanwhile, I finally got my last assignment from the taught part of the MA back at distinction - I was so pleased. It was a series of poems, all of which are now free to go off to the Plough Prize in Torrington. I even did well on the rationale, which was a huge relief. All I have to think about now is the dissertation. 

Thursday, 22 September 2011

Life on hold

I'm in the eye of an emotional storm, which is quite a nice place to be. I had a load of tests and treatment for my back, and then the whole thing stalled why I wait for more results. It's probably a degenerating disc kind of deal, but you have to rule out all sorts of exotic illnesses before you can be sent off for treatment. Thinking of more serious illnesses, even if very unlikely, makes you clear on what's you want to achieve, and finishing this book is very important to me. But I also have had a quiet week with my back which has gone from staggering around holding onto the furniture to being able to stand upright and even have periods of being pain-free. So I've walked around in the amazing autumn weather with my husband, who has taken the week off, worked on turning our house into our home, and nailed three more chapters of the book. I'm up to 37,000 and am tackling the saggy middle of the story. I'm trying to stick to an hour minimum a day of writing, no matter what's going on, but sometimes am working all morning. For the first time in a year, I'm not blogging much, because I'm waiting for these results, and then I shall have an idea what to do to fix my back. But the book makes sense, the characters are doing all the things I need them to do, and the house looks great and feels like home. I hope to prune a few fruit trees very gently tomorrow, with some caution because the site slopes uphill. Oh, and we celebrated the equinox by making twenty-two pots of blackberry and plum jelly. 

Monday, 12 September 2011

Third draft

I'm 27k into the third draft. Having come to a nasty impasse three quarters of the way through the book, I realised it is just easier to rewrite than find all the blind ends, name changes and dodgy information. I'm also completely distracted by my back, which will need specialised treatment and is undergoing all sorts of exotic tests. Despite this, I'm pottering on with the book, most days.

I like to get into a rhythm when I'm writing, same time, every day and set myself a word target, but at the moment with builders in and out, the stupid spine and kids going off to college/uni/WWoofing my life isn't that organised! I shall just have to write when I can.

One odd symptom of my back problem - or more likely, the painkillers - is a problem finding words. The last few weeks I've had real problems sorting out my vocabulary and it's hard to keep my concentration going. So I'm quite pleased with 27k but I have a deadline for the end of September for the whole book, so I shall keep going. Even if my words get a bit stuck on occasion!

Thursday, 1 September 2011

First September

There's something renewing about this time of year. New term, through all those years of school and university. The end of summer and the beginning of the autumn and all its gifts. I love September, it's my favourite month.

So, new start. I've got a solid start to the third draft. I found I ground to a halt on the second draft when the inconsistencies built up too unworkable and now the new draft is smoother and works better - this is the Stephen King approach and it seems to work for me. I want a good start for the Myslexia novel competition and then I just have to rewrite the rest of the book. I still have a few chapters to write but I have 70k of the beginning and 13k of the end. I think I need a bit of work on the last few chapters to write but I really feel I'm writing the characters better and they are more sympathetic as well. They will work much better as my dissertation, as well.  

In the meantime, I'm loading up my new bookcases with books and having a big clear out. Very therapeutic. 

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Writing again

I'm back to writing, this time from the plan. It's been a difficult week. The anniversary of my daughter's death was this weekend, made more dreary even than usual by the relentless pain in my back, which is getting slowly worse, if anything. My niece was born the same year as
Léonie, and I've just found out she's expecting her first baby. I haven't just missed all of
Léonie's life, but my potential grandchildren as well. Ouch. Bereavement just keeps stinging.

Anyway, whinge over. I'm very attached to my old words, even though I know they aren't good enough. So I'm rewriting from the plan, to iron out some of the plot tangles I've got into. It takes a while to detach from the old words (so many of them!) but it doesn't take that long to rewrite, now I'm actually doing it, and I know who everyone is and what really happens. Then I can write the missing ten or so chapters to complete the book. That will be a relief, as much as anything.  

Tuesday, 16 August 2011


I worked very hard today on planning, with a large bit of paper and actual pens. And (finally) I plotted the whole thing! Interestingly, a couple of scenes I loved have found there way back in having been excluded before. And the missing middle scenes, all 12 of them, make sense now. I've just got a bit of historical plot to do and I'm sorted! This all came from a post by Glynis Smy (thanks, Glynis!) and the frustration of watching my kids decorate because I can't with a bad back.    

This is my rambling plot. 39 chapters and 97 scenes that make sense, have some sort of logical sequence.

And this is a gratuitous fish shot. Sorry about that.

Monday, 15 August 2011

Unplanned (600)

Back to my old hassle of having no plan to work to. I've taken advice and I'm analysing what I have written and am looking at how to get from the beginning to the end. It's slow work, mostly because I hate doing it and I'm not really sure what I'm doing. Throw in a bad back and a house covered with dust sheets, and the distractions outweigh the motivation. There are 6 more weeks to the deadline for the Mslexia competition which I really want to go in for, and you have to have a whole novel to go in for it. I have turned up a lot of dead ends and also opportunities to develop the characters.

I still have a perennial problem - who am I writing for? If it's an adult audience, great, but it's got a strong magical element and perhaps that's more suited to a younger or crossover audience. In which case, making the teenage protagonist more prominent might be a better idea. I don't know, I read crossover fiction all the time! I'll just keep writing and see what happens... 

Saturday, 13 August 2011

Chaos at our house! (600)

I didn't manage to write yesterday at all - but I had a good excuse because all the floors were up and I couldn't get to the computer! Having mostly sorted out the front room, we've spread our anti-woodworm zeal into the hall and dining room.

This is our crazy cat searching for rodents - she could get right under all the ground floor boards, hopefully her scent will put the rats off. We did have rats when we moved in four years ago but we discouraged them and haven't had any since, but we do occasionally get mice. It doesn't help that the cats occasionally catch them outside, brings them in and let them go, so we have a net increase in pests. Great going, ladies.

We took up wormy boards and replaced them with less wormy boards from the dining room, most of which were in good shape.

This is Matt painting woodworm killer all over the joists. I think both he and Kez were a bit silly on the fumes, personally. they kept breaking into song, mostly a song called 'I believe I can fly' by R Kelly but also 'I've got a lovely bunch of coconuts'. I had no idea my future son-in-law can sing so loud. In fact, I had no idea anyone could sing louder than Kez, and the two of them were deafening. I literally laughed until I cried. Well done, lads.
Then they started patching the dining room floor, so we'll be able to decorate and hopefully, get the carpet fitted.

Meanwhile, back at the literary coal face - my heroine is wrestling with the revelation of what she is. And trying to hang on to her humanity. Heavy stuff, when you're trying to choose paint colours.

(Farrow and Ball Breakfast Room Green and Dix Blue, are front runners, for the interested. Green in the front room, blue in the dining room.) 

Thursday, 11 August 2011

Writing endings (1000)

Despite the distraction of hydrotherapy and the visit from a builder to mend some joists under our wormy, tatty old hall floor, I managed to write some words. It's strange that writing the ending is throwing up all sorts of ideas about what seeds need to be planted in the middle of the book. As Candy Gourlay said when she visited the university, a book is made up of set-ups and reveals. I'm finding the reveals, and need to make sure the set-ups are robust enough to carry the story. 

It seemed that somewhere in the big final battle my hero turned into a force which might be dangerous! Now I have to work out how that happened...

On the home front, I am playing with paint samples and lining paper while boys sweat and swear and relocate floorboards from the dining room to the hall, and patch the donor floor with new boards or recycled hall floors. I love having five men in the family - occasionally. Although, I am sad to report that in pursuit of the ultimate toilet humour, they have installed a journal and pen in the upstairs bathroom, to keep a log - pun intended - of toilet events.  

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Found my horse! (the one I fell off...) (1300)

Being a bit blocked (a bit - ha!) I gave up on the point at which I had faltered and went back to write a 2-3 sentence summary for each scene. That spurred on a violent scene for the big finale and then the fall out. I can connect this to the final chapters which are already drafted in very loose form. It was really good fun to be back writing and feel that satisfying compulsion. The urge to write comes and goes, sometimes I have to do lots of exercises to engage back with the writing, other times it drags me to the computer no matter how painful my back and my fingers take on a  life of their own as the story runs through my head. I literally hear can probably get tablets for that.

Tuesday, 9 August 2011

Distractions (0,0,0,0,0,0)

I'm presently using doing up the house and family visits as a distraction from my back and the actual writing of the book! I have to get back to it tomorrow, having looked at the first draft of the contemporary strand. There, I've said it. I will write at least 500 words tomorrow on the book, even if my back is bad, even if we move more stuff around. My back was so bad I had to miss hydrotherapy which was a nuisance. I suppose I'm just scared to take up the book again and not know what to do next.

Meanwhile, the dining room is next to get a makeover and most of the floorboards need to come up again to patch up the floor in the hall. That means moving more books - millions of them... it's fun to put into practice plans we've been talking about for four years but the chaos is a bit stressful after the first few days!  

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

Writing through the pain but A363 triumph. (0)

I've come back to writing though the pain is much worse, I literally couldn't sit still long enough to type yesterday. But my A363 result (87% for EMA and distinction overall) gives me a fantastic boost so I'm encouraged to keep writing. My tutor cheered me on this morning, thanks Morgaine!

Back to Jack. I've been reading again (I seem to either write or read but I should do both - reading improves my writing). The Legacy by Katherine Webb. I have no idea if this is a 'good' book in literary terms but I'm enjoying it and it's held my interest from the get-go. It was developed on the Arts Council Website You Write On and this is what Webb wrote:

“It's taken ten years and seven completed novels, but, thanks to YouWriteOn, I have just signed a two book deal with Orion!” Katherine Webb, The Legacy, YouWriteOn Book of the Year Award Winner, published in 2010

It handles the past story and a contemporary strand, which seem related, just like Borrowed Time, so I thought I would give it a go. You Write On is free to use and although you have to be discriminating about the feedback - some critiques are much more knowledgeable than others - you are showing excerpts of your work to readers and hearing what they got off the page. Helpful stuff.  

It's also time to back my files up - I always forget when I lose momentum in my writing. At the very least I need to email it to myself.   

Meanwhile, the decorating proceeds without any input from me (except technical advice - mostly confined to pointing out that the black handled brushes shed badly and lots of praise). Sophie (BSc Hons Psychology - still very proud!) is varnishing like a professional and the floor looks great in the front room. This means the five million dispossessed books now residing in boxes all over the house can soon go back.

Saturday, 30 July 2011

Lost momentum (400)

I'm terrible if I lose momentum. I got a lousy mark for one of my modules (but a reasonable pass, I keep telling myself). So I concentrated on my physio and translated my exercises into moderate amounts of decorating (very moderate). Now I'm out of the habit of writing, and it's really hard to get back into it. So, despite the fact that there is a huge sander sailing around the front room trailing smoke, and a smaller edge sander melting the black tarry paint Victorians used to paint the edges of their floorboards with, I managed 400 words. I know I have to work through Jack's strand now, in order to pull it together continuity wise. It's really hard to keep tabs on all the plot strands, but a recent input from an editor has helped me, and inspired me to go back to work on it. So, I may be off my horse but I can at least see it in the meadow. (Hi there, horse!) I just need to get back to my habit.

In the meantime, I have A363 to worry about. The results are due out by the 5th August and I will be very disappointed if I don't make a distinction now I can't get one on the MA.

Knocking down the nails

The house is filling with smoke from the industrial sanders and I'm just glad they aren't too dusty. It's going to be a two day job.  


Monday, 25 July 2011

The Writer's Journey (again)

I'm back to Christopher Vogler to make sense of all the little characters and all the complexities of sub plots. It feels like I'm writing two novels, each following a similar hero's journey, so it seems helpful. I've got the first half of Dee's story in a good second draft - it's about 25k, I've trimmed a few thousands off. It's nice to feel most of the loose ends are tied up, at least, and I can move on. I especially like the scene when Dee manages to reanimate the corpse of his friend, and it gets out of hand. Words like 'putrefaction' and 'stench' are so powerful. Back to new words tomorrow. 

Meanwhile I have managed to paint a load of bookshelves with the help of my daughter and no. 1 son, and they look good. We also painted the kitchen but I've had my doubts about the colour...and now I'm even more unsure. Oh, well.

Friday, 22 July 2011

Crisis time

Having over-extended myself a bit this year, with the full-time MA and A363, I'm considering taking a break before doing the dissertation. I know I can probably knock out a piece to pass the MA, but I really want to learn as much as possible and I haven't had a chance to do any of the required reading or take enough of a step back from my writing, either, to see it clearly. So, against my nature, really, which is a bit 'full steam ahead, don't hold the horses and mix those damn metaphors' I am considering taking my time. 

Meanwhile, I did my first bit of decorating, thanks to the improvements I am experiencing with hydrotherapy. I painted knotting solution over all the knots on the living room bookcases, which is more work than it sounds as there's 13 feet of them . 
 I also got no. 1 son (and occasional editor) to paint the skirting under the new tiles in the kitchen, not trusting myself to bend that far or get back up afterwards. 
If I don't kill myself doing the dissertation, I can finish the book, work on it, then hand in the best bit for next year. That sounds better to me, anyway! Then my focus can be the Mslexia novel comp. which looks excellent and I would love to have a crack at.  This means I can have a single focus for the summer, that will fit in better with the demands of woodwork eradication, plumbing repairs and spinal bothers.

So why do I feel like a slacker and a failure? 

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Finding my way back from chaos (200)

Every time I write a novel - and this is no. 5 - I get to 50k as if I were weaving something by hand. Each new plot twist or character is a new thread, and the trick is to not drop any and make sure you use them all from time to time. The problem is, if you get so far into a novel the danger is that you have so many threads they lose track of them. Worse, you have a slow day or two, and you drop the lot. I just can't hold that many threads at one time.

So, here I am, a few words short of 60,000 words, and I realise it's happening again. So today, I took advice and started writing out cards for each scene. I decided to start with all the Dee scenes, and soon found each scene had things I needed to tie up. For example, I introduced a lovely character from the Inquisition - and then somehow, he disappears, wasted. So he needs to be woven back in, which mirrors the present day thread, which is fun. So I ended up printing off ten chapters of that strand and read through, found and tied up loose ends, came up with more plausible bits, and examined the first and last sentences of each scene. I tend to end scenes well on high tension, but start scenes very weakly. Kelley wakes up, mostly, hardly high tension.

So, having worked over about 25k words, I feel positive about the sequence, and have lots more to write. One concern, though - the story is growing more and more, and I think I'm going to end up with over a hundred thousand words - probably quite a few more than that. 

Hopefully, cutting it down will produce a cleaner draft, but that's in the future. Meanwhile, I am still very thrilled at my daughter's graduation and engagement.  

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Crappy day (800 and 800)

Today was my actual birthday, which was a bit crap because my husband was in hospital having minor surgery. I'm sure I wouldn't have found it so stressful if husband no. 1 hadn't gone into hospital with a 'minor chest infection' and died 10 days later of undiagnosed leukaemia. So I don't have as much faith in hospitals as perhaps I should have. Anyway, he was fine, and apart from looking a bit battered and sore, he seems OK. Hopefully I will get some sleep without nightmares tonight, because the last week has been rubbish.
On the plus side, I am just a shade under 60k words and am looking to write the rest of the book before 1st September. I'm wondering whether I could do the last chapters of the book rather than the first for my dissertation! I do have a reasonable draft of about 6000 words for the end of the book (though it has a schmaltzy bit I don't like) already and I like the idea of not handing in chapters 5-17 or something - because the first and last chapters have to be the strongest anyway.

Monday, 18 July 2011

Guest blogger - please give a warm welcome to Boz! (0)

My fellow MA student Boz is my first guest blogger - we seem to have a similar distraction technique for not actually writing words! And I am sad to report that I took an actual day off writing, not even writing this blog.

How absolutely fabulous that my friend and MA compadre, Reb, has allowed me to write a little post for her blog. Thanks, Reb!  
It seems Reb and I are suffering from the same affliction, namely eruditioperlegomania , in other words, we’ve got the ‘waste time on endless research’ bug. And the thing is - I love it, love it, love it, but to quote my heroine, Edith Piaf, “A quoi ca sert?”  My dissertation is set in 1960s Manchester and is vaguely about a bunch of children, kids born in the UK to immigrant parents of different nationalities.  And that’s all you need really know because that’s where the research has exploded like a cotton wool puffball the size of K2.
All I was looking for originally was an idea of how these immigrant parents got to be where they were. In a limited way, it’s my era and my story, so I should, I think, have known more. But it’s led me into history, literature, anthropology, social science and wait for it – taraa! – something I’d never heard of as a discipline – Cultural Studies. I’m telling you my mouth is awash with saliva when I think of Cultural Studies. Yum.
And boy, am I hooked! The more academic papers I read, the more references I find to others which, naturally, I must also read. In the meantime, time is zapping by and my dissertation is not looking remotely written. However, I’m still counting it as work in the hope that I’ve absorbed some of it and it will sneak into my story one way or another – kind of the Rosetta Stone Immersion Method.
Anyway, I was reading a brilliant little book I ordered via Between Two Cultures: Migrants and Minorities in Britain by James L. Watson, when I realized that I don’t have enough hours left in my life to read everything I need to read, and I started reading more quickly. I know, I know… 
My next thought was ‘Yes, but why do you need to read them? You don’t, you plonker!’ But, Reb’s readers, I do, honest I do. It’s a relentless itch – the more I scratch, the more I need to get three inch acrylic nail extensions.  
My next thought was ‘Well, there’s only one thing for it. You have to get a brilliant mark for your MA dissertation (tricky when you haven’t actually got anything but notes and index cards so far and a mere two months left!), and then do a PhD because that will give you permission to research. That must be the way forward.’ Oh, but I can’t afford to do a PhD. Bugger. Oh yes, and let’s face it, even if I could do a PhD, finance and grade permitting, I am seriously old (54) and I’ll probably be 60 by the time I finish it, by which time (I know me…) I’ll be living in squalor, my garden will be a jungle, my car will be a rat-infested wheelie bin, and I’ll look like a bag lady who’s totally lost touch with soap and washing detergent in the intervening six years. Or I’ll have become Alan Bennett’s Mrs Shepherd.
So what I want to know is why can’t somebody just give me a position that’ll pay vast amounts and will just let me trip into on one research paper after another, like a bee sipping juicy globs of nectar from every tempting flower in the meadow.  The other part of this contract would be that I could write, but only when I felt like it and on any topic I fancied. ;)
Oh, go on someone…  gi’us a job! Is it really too much to ask? 

Thank you, Boz. Good luck with that job! 

Saturday, 16 July 2011

Assignment (850)

I'm waiting for my assignment score, which is being posted on Monday. I loved doing the Fantastic Fiction module - in which I wrote the beginning of a novel for children - and hope I get a good mark. But at this point, a pass would be reassuring! My main excitement was that my kitchen is tiled, and looks wonderful, and although the house is a tip and really getting me down, we're celebrating my birthday two days early so I don't miss out. I will have to cook though...

Friday, 15 July 2011

Chunk of dissertation off (1300)

I'm up to 56,000 words, which is great, and the first four chapters are edited and off, and I'm working on the book again. It's nice to be cruising through an action packed sequence but I've had a miserable day just the same. Sometimes the universe just runs sideways and helps everyone else, anyway, but leaves me a bit short. My husband got a last minute cancellation for day surgery, which he's been anxiously waiting for - but it's on my birthday next week, which I made plans for. I got really nervous about having acupuncture, which was cancelled, our no. 2 son deigned to visit, but just to pick up airbeds, and my husband was snappy with me all day because I asked him to do some tiling. I would have done it (I'm strangely good at tiling) but my back isn't up to it. On the plus side, the tiling looks lovely. But really, the worse thing is we've run out of chocolate...

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Past the halfway mark (3000)

A great word count, I know, but misleading. I found a great scene I wrote last year, and it fits in with chapter 20 so I rewrote it and in it goes. Tomorrow's is a recycled scene from the original book, so an easy day and it adds up to 55 k. So I took some time this afternoon to do a bit more research, and it's fascinating stuff. Hungary was so interesting four hundred years ago (and probably still is, though the bit I'm writing about isn't in Hungary any more, the borders have moved many times). Now I have to knuckle down and put a decent draft together for my supervisor, and then I can move on with the book. I've had a few ideas about the rationale too, though I haven't had any feedback on the rationales I have written as I haven't had my assignments back. And the date for the results of A363 roll ever closer... 

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Taking a day off (1500)

I sat down this morning and felt so tired and lost. I suddenly realised it must have been a few days since I had a day off - actually, it was sixteen days since I didn't work at least for a couple of hours. While I'm completely proud of my work ethic, I could also call it creepy obsession. I hung around this morning and wrote in my journal, then I realised what I actually needed to do - spend some time thinking about the story. So I jotted down the rest of the Dee strand, and sat down to my new research book. It's fascinating, but all the time I was reading I was also writing in my head, so sat down and actually did a bit of typing to go with it. A strange day off, but it was nice not to feel I had to write. 

Monday, 11 July 2011

Pushing on (1500)

I did the scary edit thing on chapter 3. Isn't it hard to go back to work you've moved on from? But it's OK and no. 1 son didn't find much to work on. I also started chapter 17 even though I was itching to rewrite chapter 16 from Jack's POV. Having fun with research, but did splash out for another couple of research books. Oops! Amazon should be rationed...

Now I need to do chapter 4 tomorrow. Busy days. I also managed a very short walk up Hillsborough (well, to base camp - the information board, anyway). It was nice to get the heart pumping a little bit from actual exercise, I've spent months stuck indoors. Good for the soul, seeing birds and beetles and wild flowers, especially from so high up. 

Sunday, 10 July 2011

Try again tomorrow (3000)

I had the best intention - I was going to sit down with real persistence and edit chapter 3. But I just had a peak at what I wrote yesterday and started playing around with it - and the next chapter just shouted out to be written. I have written it entirely in the wrong character's point of view, of course, it really should be in my main character's voice. I will resist rewriting tomorrow if I can, it should be easier as there's less distractions while my husband is working.

When I first wrote a draft, I put a high tension encounter in very early, and then the middle of the book sagged like an old mattress. Now we build up to said scene, which is even more scary, and it works ten times better. I think the pacing thing which I am so bad at will be OK for the contemporary strand, but the historical strand has the squeak of rusty springs about it... but I'm NOT going to work on that tomorrow, because I shall be editing in an orderly manner! Oh, and did you notice I wrote three thousand words in one go? I have the flat arse to prove it...Up to nearly forty-four thousand now.  

Saturday, 9 July 2011

New plan - edit first, then write. (1800)

I'm going to try to edit first - since I hate it - and write the new stuff in the afternoons. On the plus side, I've written buckets today. All very badly, but the flow of the story is down.  I'm at about 43000 words now, and I've got 6000+ to go to my supervisor. Feels like halfway-ish. 
I've also spent the day walking around carpet warehouses and finding bargains. I haven't enjoyed doing a house up this much for many years, my husband hates all these decisions so he resists change as passionately as the cats. But he's having a go at moving into the house we technically inhabited for the first time four years ago. More wormy floors to find tomorrow, and my deposit came through from Winchester to help fund it! Lovely stuff.  

Friday, 8 July 2011

Attempting an edit of chapter 2 (1500)

Having put it off (and off, and off) I can't ignore the fact that I now have conflicting goals. I want to have Borrowed Time finished for Mslexia's novel writing competition, of course. I also want to turn in a dissertation, beautifully polished and edited and re-edited, so I need a good draft of half of it to send off. the problem is, I want to carry on writing (just under 41 thousand words today!) so I'm forcing myself to work on the rewrite of Chapter 2 today, and Chapter 3 tomorrow. This inevitably leads on to displacement activities like making bread, and pie for the boys.

Meanwhile, we have ripped up a load of disgusting old nylon carpet to reveal the floors.
 We have also revealed the odd munchy board with resident woodworm, but not too much so far. Not to mention my decorating dynamo who is off tomorrow to go volunteering on an organic farm - a bit of a rest, really.

Now I really have to print off chapter 2 and work on it - red pen moment. I hate this bit!

Thursday, 7 July 2011

Finding it difficult to edit (850)

As I get up to 40k words, I'm finding it difficult to go back and edit. It's like they are two such different processes, I can't easily swap from one to the other. Am I the only one who finds this? Plus, a lovely book full of yummy research came in and I was distracted by having to go into hydrotherapy this morning. Add pulling up the living room carpet and scoping out new floors in town, and you can understand I found it hard to focus! I did write 850 words but I think they will end up as much reduced since they don't move the story on much. Dee and Kelley are at the castle where all the murders took place, though. Fun times.

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

Therapied out (1500)

I'm up to 38,500 words, which is good. After physio, I'm shattered and I have hydrotherapy in the morning. Exciting times! I just wish I didn't have to eat standing up... finding it difficult to make Felix and Jack sound distinct. Back to the drawing board. Number of chapter two words edited: 0. Whoops.

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Frustrating day (500)

My back is so painful it's distracting. Back to the physio, as it's getting worse again. That's seven months of various levels of ouch.

Looking at the book, it seems to be time for rewriting the early chapters to get them out to my supervisor and get some useful feedback. That's the plan, anyway, but I really want to keep going on the book proper. Since I can't easily do either, it's frustrating! Hopefully, tomorrow will be better.

We've decided to raise a small mortgage on the house to try and fix some of the big problems with it. I think an old house - especially one this big - is a bit of a project anyway, and for once, I'm not focused on selling it too soon. So I'm able to look at lovely wood floor samples and have chosen a woodburner. This is an updated version of my first woodburner, from 1994.
 Wood is cheap and available in Devon, so it's a cheap, lovely looking option. It will certainly warm this room up a bit, anyway! I'm hoping to turn a shower room into an en-suite and create a big built in wardrobe, too. We've got structural work like a cracked drain and woodworm to deal with, too, and ideally, we would get the patched, cement render off and lime render the outside. But I can't see how they would get the scaffolding up the drive...other than by hand. Oh, my. Are there enough zeroes on that quote, do you think?