Sunday, 27 July 2008


I’m working very hard on the work in progress at the moment. So hard that I seem to have absolutely no mental energy left for the blog. Sorry. Things have, I know, been kinda dull here recently.

As those of you who have been following closely will know, I have stopped three quarters (if not more) of the way in to the current novel to go back and fix a character; and therefore fix the novel. It’s working, I’m happy with it, I’m approximately 25-30 percent of the way through the rewrite which I think is the most difficult bit. I’m much happier with what I’m producing now and I’m also happy that the book is about what I thought it was about, I just need to do it better.

When I stomp around the city on my daily walks, thinking about the book, things assume a very clear and defined shape. I see the themes, the layers, the interconnections in the narrative very clearly and this encourages me – I do know what I’m doing. But when I’m actually sitting there working on a scene, it’s difficult to maintain that ‘helicoptering’ over the book which keeps all the strands, metaphors, themes, recurrent images in mind. The whole thing becomes difficult to see and as a consequence, what appears in my mind when I’m away from the book is difficult, if not impossible, to achieve when I’m sitting there at the kitchen table working at it.

But… I know I’m closer to that vision this time around. When I’ve finished these rewrites and then when I’ve finished the whole draft, doubtless there will be more rewriting to be done. And so on until I’m completely happy with the result.

I rashly told Will, my editor at MNW that I’d have a draft to show him by September. Don’t think that’s going to happen. Because, even if a draft has been finished by sometime that month, it’s unlikely to be something I’d be happy to show him. Or anybody else.

Though it was an artificial deadline, set to give myself something to aim at, I feel bad that I’m not, realistically, going to make it. But the last thing I want to do is rush to get a version of the book done just so I can put it on Will’s desk when I said I would. It took me years to get Testament right and I need to remember that.

So, if blogging is sporadic over the next few weeks, please forgive me. Writing is in progress elsewhere.


Tim Stretton said...

I know where you are at the moment, Alis, if only because I'm in a pretty similar place myself!

Keep at it - you don't write a book as good as Testament by accident. However long it takes to get right, it *will* be right in the end...

Alis said...

Thanks Tim, much appreciated.

KAREN said...

There are sadly only so many hours in the day, and so much energy to go round but your book'll be worth it in the end. Just keep us posted now and then :o)

Akasha Savage said...

Hi Alis. I, too, had given myself a deadline. I wanted to have a completed polished draft of my novel by the end of this year...but things are looking grim. Time is eaten up far too quickly. I am still clinging to a fragile hope that I may be finished when I planned to be. But if I'm not...well...I'm not. Simple as that. The writing policeman won't be along to snatch me away (I hope!).

I completely agree with you about how hard it is to retain all the themes, dialogue, plots, turns in the story, that jump into your head when you're away from the computer and than vanish as soon as you sit at the keyboard. It happens to me all the time. So frustrating!

Hope to see you soon.


KatW said...

You are right to focus on your book. I on the other hand need to do more novel writing and less of everything else. (but then have had poorly hand - but excuses won't get me a publishing deal!)

Keep up the good work - I am sure your new novel will be worth it.

Kat :-)

Alis said...

Karen, Akasha, Kat - thanks for all your kind words. I will try to keep you posted about how it's all going. You are stars!

David Isaak said...

Hey, I expected to be done with my WIP at the start of summer. (Time out for brays of laughter and some moments of weeping.) Alas, the book is the boss.

Rachael King said...

Alis, i soooo relate to this post. You have put into words a problem I have been having - the "helicoptering". Although I think we do have to give ourselves a break and maybe even switch the helicopter off for a whole draft just to live in the moment. You can always get those blades going once a draft is in the bag.

Alis said...

Hi Rachel - yes, I know there are times when I need to live a little more in the moment but when you know something is fundamentally wrong I think you've got to go for it, otherwise you may end up writing the end to the wrong book!