About 80 per cent done with a rewrite, all within 3-4 weeks. Flippin exhausted.
I was tagged by Una McCormack to take part in this – so here are my answers to the questions!
What am I working on?
My novel White Feathers, which is currently in edit/rewrite stage after being acquired by the O’Brien Press’s Brandon imprint last September. It’s a novel based during WWI and its premise is: a young girl’s family try to push her into giving a white feather of cowardice to the man she loves.
That’s it, for the moment; these edits are taking up all my time. It’s hard work, but I enjoy it.
Before the edits started, I was working on the first draft a second novel about Germans in Czechoslovakia in 1938 and a dangerous love affair, but that’s on hold for the moment.
How does my work differ from others in its genre?
I’m not sure I’m that bothered about difference for difference’s sake. I’d rather write a good story that is in an identifiable genre than a wodge of text in some sort of “oh I wouldn’t call it X” category. I suppose it’s a story from a very popular time period that doesn’t often get told, and protagonists that perhaps wouldn’t tell it. Other than that, I don’t know really – and it isn’t important to me.
I do feel that in historical fiction a certain – if not reverence then workmanlike respect, at least – for the facts is necessary. One can take (acknowledged) liberties with the facts to a certain degree. But if you drop an anachronism into your work, be prepared for readers to notice and, rightly, judge you.
How does my writing process work?
Before I resigned in January, I worked full time while I wrote. The novel I’m currently working on took four drafts, with breaks between. I wouldn’t say I wrote every day, but as the process got more intense, I had more motive to finish the draft and so naturally wrote more often. I rarely write early in the morning – I’m an owl by nature. Now that I’m home, I do write mid-morning. I plan a few scenes ahead each time – particularly for a first draft that helps as while I have an overarching knowledge of where the plot is going, I haven’t always worked out the fine details. This is when I start making private notes on a dedicated blog space. I have a tag for every character and I just make notes for each one.
Every November I take part with an online writing group in a group writing project which has enormously helped my writing process because of the feedback for each small segment each one of us posts.
When I’m near a final draft, I print the thing out, bring it to a nice café and scribble all over it!
I have taken a leave of absence from the workplace this spring to concentrate on my writing. This was long planned. I really like my colleagues and have great respect for the people I’ve worked with, likewise for the ethos of the company. But I knew in advance that the novel would start to require my time again and this time I wanted to be energised and ready to give it proper attention.
When I was completing the final draft to send to my agent, I was doing a rewrite and working full-time during a very busy period. I was exhausted. My health was not the best – I was wiped out, severely overweight and unable to engage with the novel the way I wanted. I was so tired I got it into my head that everyone would get fed up of waiting and move on. When I eventually spoke to my employers and explained I needed more time to complete the novel, they were very supportive and kind.
I’m aware that I am lucky. Firstly, I was old and ugly and long in the tooth enough to know what I wanted and secondly, that I had an agent and publisher who were interested in my work. And thirdly, colleagues who were interested and rooting for me. And fourthly, the time to financially prepare for this.
Today, my decision was vindicated. I’m just getting stuck into the development/storyline edits for my novel White Feathers and they really are going to demand all my concentration – and this process has a deadline. I know there are superwomen and men out there who have jobs/families and write a novel and pull it all off. I’m not one of those people. I’m not Superwoman and I can’t do both. And if you aren’t one of those people, consider this post a voucher you can show your doubting mind.
I hope to return to the non-writing workplace sometime mid March, but that date is not set in stone. For now, I have a job already, and I’m going to get on with it. And really enjoy it 🙂