Friday, 22 October 2010

Hello Goodbye*

It’s been a whole month, a lot of words, a few extremely late nights, a complete career change for my hero but quite a lot of writing pleasure since I last blogged. Sorry for the long silence – this has been one of those books that has really absorbed me and made me feel like I’m living a parallel life - in a hulking great castle on the Northumberland coast, which is no bad thing (except for where real life is concerned, where it's resulted in a distinct falling off of domestic efficiency. Oops)

I haven’t exactly finished and sent the book off yet. It’s due in in the first week in November, but the daughters break up for half term today and we’re going away tomorrow, so I needed to get to a place where the end was not just in sight, but in touching distance. I always want finishing a book to be like the scene at the beginning of Romancing the Stone when Kathleen Turner sits at her desk, tears streaming down her face as she types faster and faster until she gets to The End. There have been a couple of books when it has been a bit like that for me, but mostly the way I work is a lot more messy and less organized. I write in a big surge of energy and focus, faster and faster without reading back over anything, until I get to the last chapter. And then I grind to a complete halt because I can’t go on to the grand finale until I know everything else is all in place, so I have to go right back to the start to do a thorough revision job before I write the ending. That’s the stage I’m at now – the reading-back, tidying-up, weeping-with-horror-at-the-holes-and-glaring-inconsistencies and wondering-if-there's-time-to-write-a-completely-new-book-in-a-week stage. Lovely.

Anyway, I can do all that on my printed-out ms while we’re away at the Cottage in the Middle Of Nowhere again this half term. I am so ready for a week without screens (apart from the TV variety, albeit with only 4 channels and a slightly grainy picture) and as I’ve been stuck inside for weeks, haven’t got round to getting the chimney swept and haven’t cooked anything decent for the last month – I'm also ready for lots of walking, open fires and proper food. And reading. And getting up in the morning (not with an alarm and not at a time that begins with 5, obv) to a house that doesn’t look like the ‘before’ sequence in ‘Grimefighters’. I shall try very hard to ignore the fact that I’m only going to come back to all that at the end of the week and hope that by then I will be so much restored in body and spirit by all the wholesome fresh air, exercise, red wine, time with my family that I will be able to face it with serenity. It is just my process. I must learn to love it. (Though if it was anything else I'd be taking it back to the shop and asking for an exchange to a more efficient model.)

So, before I go what I need to know is, what’s your process and have you learned to accept it?

* (To rather appropriately quote The Beatles, who have had a couple of random mentions in the book. Who knows why?)