Saturday, 18 April 2015

The tricky age

My daughter turned 10 a few weeks ago, which is a milestone, isn't it? I still remember the way I felt at hitting double figures.

So I'm posting in honour of her and the literacy-based issues she and I have been grappling with lately.

She's a fabulous, intuitive little reader, who is probably even more compulsive than me (and I always thought I could win every award going when it came to compulsive reading). She has a reading age between 13 and 14, but couples it with a sensitive soul and a healthy dollop of naivety, which I'm not keen to lose.

It's very hard to challenge her with her reading. She adores Enid Blyton, still, and seems to like pacy mystery stories. Sometimes my choices for her go down very badly, and she discards books half-read. I've been borrowing books from the library and having to read them first, to check if the content is innocent enough.

Today I finished reading 'The Great Unexpected', which was beautiful and lyrical, though I would have liked things a little more explicitly explained in it...there was a bit of boy-girl interest which I think she'll skim, but it wasn't inappropriate for a 10 year old. However, I'm not sure if she will enjoy it. She began it tonight, so the jury is out.

The teachers gave her 'Northern Lights', which she read with fierce interest, and it actually kept her busy for three days as opposed to one, but I felt it was pushing the limits of what I'm comfortable for her to be reading.

So - anyone got any much-loved suggestions that she might enjoy? Any help will be gratefully received.

The other thing that happened this week is that I had a letter from an organisation called 'Young Writers' saying that her short saga on 'Paradise' was entered into a competition by her school, and her entry has been selected to go into the East Midlands anthology (which I can buy for the meagre sum of £18).

I have so many problems with this, from the fact I've been exposed to this exploitation by the school, to my daughter's face when I told her I didn't think I'd be buying one. (Her dad says he'll buy it...but £18! For 100 words written by Bean, that none of us will ever read anything else in it! And, with all the motherly love and pride in the world, for a story she has written which is OK, but not amazing.)

Of course, it goes without saying that the contest Bean 'won' was also won by every other child in her class...

How can this kind of grasping money-making go on, exploiting parents and children - and supported by schools, at that? Have schools not realised it would be better to self-publish their own books and keep the profits for their own PTFA?


Saturday, 28 March 2015

The science of Scrivener

The word-count remains elusive...I tried to use Scrivener to check it, and it said the word count was 89 000, which sounded right and made my spirits rise...but now I'm wondering exactly what is being included in that. 
I've realised I need to take a little more time now to get to know new things about Scrivener before I get back to the editing. I may add a little more in the way of subplots, anyway, but I need to understand how to do certain things with the software, and this break will be a good time to do that. 
If only my Mac hadn't just started to kick me off youtube...things are never simple!

Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Frustration

I printed my finished novel out! It was so exciting. Then, the next day I looked at the word-count on the front sheet, and my stomach felt like it had swan-dived from the top board. It's only 50, 000 words!

I'm genuinely shocked, and hoping that it's a miscount, otherwise I've got to find a few more. As an over-writer/blatherer, I usually need to word-cull whenever I write anything. I was expecting to do so with this book (although, I have tentative hopes that there is less to edit this time....). Instead, I'm wondering where I can conjure 30,000 more words from. Do I need a whole new sub-plot?

My immediate thought is that one of the main characters could be  fleshed out more, and given more of his own problems to run alongside the main ones. That would ensure he wasn't a cardboard cut-out standing on the side-lines (I have worried that he's a little passive). But I don't know what that will be. And when you've typed 'The End' and then begin to realise you've done so prematurely, it is a little bit of a blow.

Sunday, 22 March 2015

It's Such a Perfect Day

I'm so tired my brain is shrivelled to nothing, so I'm probably not up to a proper post. Even if I were, I'm nursing a poorly toddler, who is determined to talk to me about Spiderman as I type, and quite likes pressing keys to be helpful. She may have been a cat in a previous life.

But tonight, I finished my latest novel. It's still a work in progress, because that's only the first draft, but I printed it out, and it's sitting next to me now. That makes it a good day.

Tomorrow there will be things to look at and puzzle why Scrivener has compiled it like THAT, and how to change the other, and then in a few weeks the editing and rewriting, but tonight it's enough.

Yay! I think I deserve to celebrate in a way that hits all my current fantasies- by getting some sleep....but only if I can persuade a poorly girl to go back to bed first.

Thursday, 5 March 2015

Gathering pace

I'm reaching the climax of my current work in progress, and finding it harder and harder to leave it. I was nearly late picking Chick-pea up from pre-school this morning, because I was so busy with imaginary people...not a sign of a responsible mother, I suppose!
The story has a momentum of its own now, which I'm loving. The fact that I can't wait to return to it each time I can is reassuring too - I hope that one day someone else might be hooked, reading it, too.
Meanwhile, I've had a filler published in Readers' Digest for £50, and another article accepted (for no fee) for a tiny local magazine. (I went out of my comfort zone for this one, and sought professional quotes to add in). I've been researching parenting magazines that I could send some of my tweaked articles to, but there seems to be a dearth in this market. There are baby magazines, but not much demand for articles about parenting school-age children. Perhaps it's time I researched and explored getting articles published online - but it's another step out of my comfort zone!
I also haven't yet heard anything from the womentoring project that I applied to in October. I'd better re-read the website, but I thought it said that you would hear if you were unsuccessful so that you could approach a different mentor, and the original project was due to close in April, so I'm running out of time there...Plenty of positives to celebrate but still much to aim for!

Sunday, 15 February 2015

Writing a book a word at a time

My work in progress is skidding along. It's providing me with a much needed escape from the turmoils of home life and half-term, and I can feel it gathering pace now the end is in view. 

So easy to be clever with hindsight. With each 'book' I've written, I've learnt so much. With this one, the thing I'm learning most is that writing little and often is far more important than a good long stretch infrequently. It's the sum of those half hours at a time that adds up to something. And when writing matters, and there's a deadline (or a finish line) in sight, you suddenly find that you can sacrifice that hour in front of the tv, or put the ironing on one side for another night and before you know it, the words are stacking up into chapters, and the chapters into 'acts' and the book is more than half done. 

If only I could bear that in mind all the time, my productivity would be immense...

Tuesday, 20 January 2015

Greased Lightning

No, I'm not thinking about Grease today (though it must be in my mind somewhere) but about writing  time. I've posted before about trying to find time to write - a puzzle for every wannabe writer. I've read plenty of articles about how to make the most of your time, and how to prioritise, work to deadlines, conquer the demons of procrastination....

But lately I've been thinking about it from another point of view. When I write, I lose time. I lose myself. I come back to reality and find that an hour, two, or three have disappeared, while I have been unconscious of them. I've always taken it as a sign that I was utterly absorbed, and doing something I loved, but I'd never realised before that the hours and days could slide away, slippery as spaghetti. When it's just an hour here and there, it's a stolen pleasure, but when you start to write regularly, and lost time regularly, you begin to realise that one day you'll find that years are passing in a blur...and it's a bit scary!

I suppose this is why it's important to change pace in your writing life as well as throughout a story. When a novel is done, some marketing, editing or beginning to structure the next novel gives you a break from the all-consuming joy and absorption of writing. And meanwhile, my word count is rising, so who am I to complain even if the time is going like greased lightning?