Sometimes writing is just hard. Every word is like hefting a lump of marble onto the page. For me, the rewrite is my enemy. What’s the hardest part of writing for you?
Last night was a bit mental. I had made a public declaration on here and on the Bestseller Experiment podcast group on Facebook, that I would complete a novella by midnight on the 31st Jan. On the 1st Jan I only had one chapter. Yesterday morning I still had six chapters to write.
I decided to document my race to the end with short videos on TikTok and shared them on Twitter and Instagram. I needed to give myself the added pressure of other people’s expectations.
Midnight came and I still had three chapters to go. I finally finished at 1:44 this morning, feeling frazzled and slightly nuts.
Much polishing to do now. A cover is in the works which I will reveal soon.
The story is called Gnome. It’s a homage to creature feature movies from the 80s. Critters, Gremlins, The Gate, and Ghoulies. And the basic idea behind the story was inspired by a Brothers Grimm story of the same name.
This was only the first part of my public declaration. The second part is to complete a story called The Projectionist and The Wall People by 30th April. And then to finish a movie screenplay called Price of Life by the last day in June.
It’s going to be a busy year. I can’t wait!
Here’s the last video I posted at 1:44 this morning-
I seem to have forgotten how to blog. It all started so well. Each week, a new post. Do you remember my first post? It was called The Manuscript Thief and was about me drunkenly letting one of my parent’s friends, Steve, take the unedited first draft of a manuscript home with him to read. This is a mistake that all new authors must avoid.
To cut a long story short he said he would go through it with a red pen and highlight any spelling or grammatical mistakes. Now, I learned how important it is to get yourself proof read when I prematurely released Tripping the Night Fantastic without seeking a proof reader. This mistake was reflected in the first few reviews. I then had to take the book off sale, make the necessary changes, and re-release it. So overall I was glad that Steve had offered to go through The Accidental Scoundrel (formally known as A Scoundrel for Love) manuscript with a red pen.
The problem is, he vanished. Months went by with little contact. It turns out he got a job in Scotland and moved without so much as a goodbye, or a, “Here’s your book back, sorry, I haven’t had time to look at it”. No, I wasted months waiting for him to hand it back so I could make the corrections and send it out into the world. Because of this the release date of the book has been delayed by 5 months.
Luckily the time away from the novel has allowed me to look at it with fresh eyes. The errors have revealed themselves to me and I have got the book to a point I am happy with. More importantly I have found myself a new proof reader!
She is the land lady of my local pub, Kerry. And here are four good reasons for why she makes an excellent proof reader –
- She keeps me at a satisfactory level of drunkenness and hasn’t banned me from the pub regardless of my frustrating and intolerable behaviour when drunk.
- She invited me up to her flat recently and I was surprised to discover a vast collection of books not dissimilar to my own. She reads. A lot.
- She’s a bit of a grammar Nazi (one of the less frowned upon branches of Nazism) and has proof read a manuscript before for a writerly relative.
- She has a very nice bottom. Now, this point may not have much to do with her abilities as a proof reader but it is very important.
It will be a few weeks before I get it back but I do trust her to actually give it back. (Unlike Steve! Pah to you Steve!). When she does hand it back, and says something like, “Oh Andy! It was marvellous! Funny and witty and charming, oh Andy, it was just fantastic. And there were hardly any mistakes! I do love a man with a good grasp of grammar!” And then she’ll probably swoon. Or have an unprompted orgasm, or something. What was I saying? Oh yes, when I do get it back I will announce the release date and send out review copies to anyone who wants one.
So there I was. It was Christmas Eve. Two days earlier I had finally finished my second book. The first draft had been printed off. The plan was to leave it, to forget about, to not even look at it, for a few months. Then, on one lonesome evening, I would pick up the manuscript and go through it with a red pen. But something dreadful would happen before I got the chance.
It is important that no one sees a freshly finished novel, you see, you get so close to the material that after a while all the mistakes become invisible to you. You know the story so well that it doesn’t matter how much you concentrate your mind fills in the blanks. If I write probable instead of probably I won’t notice it. My brain knows what word to expect and my eyes will pass over it without seeing the mistake. This is why you need a few months after finishing the book before you start proof reading it. And that was my intention with A Scoundrel for Love (the first in a series of humorous books based at the stately Rochdale Manor).
As I was saying, it was Christmas Eve. Some of my parent’s friends were round for drinks. One of them, a man named Steve, asked me how my writing was going.
“It’s going well,” I said, “In fact I’ve just finished a novel.”
“Oh, I would love to have a look at it.”
“Sure, why not.” I said, and scurried off to fetch it. That was my mistake. I blame the booze.
He read the first paragraph aloud (at least this much was error free);
“It’s strange being killed. I never thought I’d say it but it is. It’s annoying. Especially when you have no idea why you are being killed. Here I am, standing at the toilet with my pyjamas around my ankles and in walks a man with the intent to do harm. Perhaps I’m somehow to blame? Who knows? Either way, whether I am to be blamed or not, adjustments to my situation must clearly be made. Being drowned in a toilet is not something I take pleasure in. And it is certainly not the way I wish to uncoil my mortal spring, as they say. In the throes of death the automatic instincts of self-preservation set forth a plan of retaliation. My limbs reacted accordingly on my behalf.”
Everyone chuckled. There were positive murmurs.
“Oh, hold on, there’s a disclaimer before the first chapter,” he said, and then read on;
“As a result of lazy research the descriptions of the Whyte and Mackay distillery are entirely made up and so any attempt to carry out the heist described in these pages would be completely idiotic and utterly fruitless.”
More laughs. Things were going well.
Steve put the manuscript down and said he would have a proper look later. After all, the night was early and this was a Christmas gathering not a reading circle. I snuck away and left them to it.
When I went back to my parents lounge a few hours later (having spent some quality time being drunk with my brother) I discover my parents sitting alone watching TV.
“Have they gone?” I said.
“Yes, they left about ten minutes ago.”
“Oh, is my book in here somewhere?”
They frowned. “No, Steve took it with him to read on the train.”
“It hasn’t been edited. He’s going to think I’m an illiterate idiot!”
I rushed off and switched on my laptop just to read the first few chapters. And there they were, the glaringly obvious mistakes you become blind to. The word Authorities where it should have said authoritative. And for some reason (unfathomably! A relic from an early change perhaps) the word bucket instead of cave (how can that even be!). I had also written the word to instead of the. And, oh no, at some point, when I was just getting started with this book one of the characters was called Uncle Henry. It soon changed to Uncle Harry. But it looks like I missed a mention of him early on and within a few pages his name suddenly changes from Harry, to Henry, and back again!
For New Year’s Eve my parents met Steve and his wife for dinner. He mentioned it. He asked my dad if he thought I would mind if he went through it with a red pen and pick out the mistakes.
And actually I don’t mind that. I did have a friend of mine who teaches English to proof read it for me anyway. At least now when I do send it to him he will think I’m capable of producing a far more polished piece of writing than I actually am.
Still, it is a lesson learned. And if Steve turns out to be a good proof reader at least I might be able to rely on him for that in the future. All published authors have an editor and a proof reader. It must be accepted that a writer can’t write tens of thousands of words without the occasional error (there may be one or two exceptions out of the millions of published authors but they will be an extreme minority).
I’m glad in a way that my unfinished manuscript was accidently stolen from me. It will mean that when I send it out to agents and publishers it will be the best it can be.
I’ll let you know when I get the manuscript back exactly how bad the damage is.