Sunday, 29 March 2015

Why I want my missing hour back NOW!

In another universe, I'm not even up yet.  Or I am, but I'm bungling around in a dressing gown, clasping a mug of coffee and my head and muttering about it being the middle of the night.  You can tell this is another universe, because I don't have a dressing gown in this one and I don't drink coffee in the mornings.  I do, however, have a head, so, you know, point of contact and all that.

Anyway.  Last night the clocks went forward and somebody stole an hour of my life.  I know I get it back again in October, but that's like the time my electricity company decided to charge me £160 a month when I was only using £63 a month - I know I get the money back eventually, but that's no good when I need it NOW, is it?  And I don't know what I might be doing in October, I might have some particularly enthralling hobby that gets me out of bed at four a m (no, I have no idea what it could be either, but something that can get me out of bed at four in the morning must be particularly exciting. Maybe I'm dating Aiden Turner or something...

Yes, yes I would, and yes, I would have to get out of bed at four a m in order to be ready for a date at seven p m) and that extra hour is completely wasted...Hang on. If I'm dating Aiden Turner, and I get an extra hour in bed...

Sorry.  Disregard what I just said, would you?

Point I am making is... hold on, I had a point just a minute ago... too tired to remember.  I am sleep deprived and..oh yes, that was it.  An hour of my life has been snatched away, and nobody bothered to ask if I was using it or anything, they just snuck in in the middle of the night and took it away.  I might have been doing anything with that hour (see above, re Aiden Turner...) and now I have to wait until October for repayment, by which time inflation will mean that I'll only get forty-five minutes and a few seconds back, and if that happens to everyone in the country then somewhere someone is sitting on about 86 thousand years, which is going to get uncomfortable unless they have a very special cushion.

I'm deranged and rambling now. It's lack of sleep, that's the only explanation...


Sunday, 22 March 2015

I begin my latest Scribble Thinking, stare out of the window and hum a lot.

Last week I finished a book.  This week I'm starting one.

I know a lot of people like to take a 'book holiday' between their works of genius, but since my brain is prone enough to taking mini-breaks whilst actually in the middle of a book - lolling around on a sun lounger with a glass of Pimms in one hand and a HobNob in the other (a surprisingly satisfying combination, if you've never tried it), sunglasses on, and a defiant approach to deadlines - I already feel well rested and up for starting a new Work In Progress.  Although, since it is neither yet work, nor in progress, I feel a new term is called for.  Something along the lines of Scribble Thinking.

Although, since you already know about my lack of drawing ability, this could be my latest book or a picture of my house.

So I find myself at that exciting state of writing, ie, the one where you don't actually have to do any work other than thinking up character names and backgrounds, but you really want to.  In a couple of weeks, ie when I begin putting finger to keyboard, these positions will firmly reverse. I will have to do some work, but I will no longer want to.  This is the precise point at which Scribble Thinking becomes Work In Progress.  You will be able to time it exactly, should you wish... just ask me how the new book is coming along.  Whilst I am in Scribble Thinking mode you will get an answer along the lines of 'oh, it's great! It's going to be a Bronze Age time-slip story, and there's this archaeological investigation and this carved stone and lots of mud and archaeologists and...'  Ask me the same question once I've started Work In Progress mode, and you will be lucky to escape with the toggles still on your duffel coat.

So, I'm off to do some research now.  This mainly consists of staring at pictures of Tony Robinson, looking out of the window and humming tunes to myself.  If you'll excuse me...


Sunday, 15 March 2015

Why writing 'The End' is like weeing in public...

I am just about to finish a book.  Writing, I mean, not reading, because that's a whole different ball game of expectation versus reality and that sort of thing. 

This book, the one I'm writing, although obviously I'm not writing it right now because I'm writing this, which is part of the problem because procrastination... has been 'nearly finished' for about the last three months.  'Nearly' as in, within two chapters.  The end is so nearly in sight that it's like that bit at the end of a very long car journey, where everyone has been saying 'are we nearly there yet?' for the last hundred and fifty miles, and you've been saying 'nearly', until you actually are nearly there, when you turn round to discover that everyone's fallen asleep and then they get all cranky about arriving because you have to wake them up to get out of the car.  If you see what I mean.

Anyway.  I truly am 'nearly there'.  And you'd think, wouldn't you, that I'd be tapping away, racing through those last words to get to The End..?  Er, no. I'm more, sort of, not.

So, what is stopping me?

Two little words.  Two words that are not The End... Performance Anxiety.  Finishing a book is like weeing in public.  You know you really, really want to, and that if you don't, sooner or later something terrible is going to happen... but you just can't.  Because - and I stress this is to do with ending a book and not weeing - what actually comes out is never going to be as good as you imagined.  In your head the book is all shiny and perfect, not a word misplaced.  No slightly wonky synonyms, all your similes are spot-and apposite, everything is gaspingly, knee-tremblingly wow.

But then you have to do it.  And gradually you realise that... you could have done better.

And this is where the moist soft-furnishings of redrafting and editing come in.  You've done it, you've let it go, you've finally managed the wee, but you realise that you've got a lot of drying out and mopping to do before you can appear in public.  So, here is where I rely on the incontinence pants of beta-readers, who will wipe up the worst of my damp patches before my End is actually submitted.
You know who you are, and I am very grateful...