Let the Battle Commence!

Enough marinading – time to start grilling!

Almost a month ago exactly, I wrote ‘The End’ on the first draft of my novel.   I printed it out and set it aside – yes, literally in a drawer – to marinade in its juices until I felt ready to tackle it again.   Meanwhile, the end of school revelries, birthdays, professional obligations, family demands swept over me, pulling me under, all but drowning me in waves of joy and salt, of midsummer madness and unknowable sadness.

But now it’s just me and those 150+ pages of single-spaced writing eyeballing each other.  I already know I have to take out some scenes, add others, move things around.  I know I will wince when I see redundant adjectives and adverbs, will frown at repetitions, will fiercely attack typos and careless grammar.  I am sure so much will escape me still…

And in the meantime, I continue to read and review crime fiction.  Many writers say that they stop reading in their genre when they are writing a book, but I’ve been writing this book for 12 years now!  Still, the reason for avoidance – to steer clear of contagion and envy – is becoming obvious.  Gone are the days when I could read a thriller purely for fun.  Now, if it’s a bestseller, like Simon Kernick or JoNesbø, I wish I could have that pace in plotting (even if they are light years removed from my own style).  If it’s the wit and prose that win me over, like Stav Sherez or Patricia Highsmith, I flame up in desire to achieve that standard.  And if it’s poorly written, I wallow in pools of self-pity: that I am unlikely to get published, when there is so much crime fiction already out there.

Yet none of these writers, admired or envied, are there with me.  None of my friends, online or off, can be there with me.  I step into the ring of fire, all alone.  I know nothing about grilling except for the eating. I probably have the wrong weapons with me: my glasses, my pens and my notebooks.  This time, it’s a battle to the death – and only one of us can emerge victorious.

Bon appétit!


22 thoughts on “Let the Battle Commence!”

  1. I love the rewrite stage. The End is never the end until someone wrests the thing out of my hands and says, “Yes, I’ll acquire it.” And even then I want a do over, just a bit more tweaking, a bit more time to study word choice and scene arrangement and the voice of each character. I see the mire rising to swallow those of us stuck in a yearning for perfect.

    Of course, I’ve never had to stare at 150 pages of single-spaced text before. I recently put an old story into Scrivener, which has made my do-over bit so much easier. Really, I wonder how I managed without its organizational aids. It doesn’t bring me to perfection, but it certainly gives me a different perspective.

    Have fun in the battle!

  2. Thanks, I will! I do enjoy editing other people’s work, let’s see how well I do with my own.
    I do wish I hadn’t been quite so ecologically minded, however, when printing it out. But it will be travelling with me on holiday this August (my laptop won’t, as I won’t have Internet connection), so I needed the manuscript to be as light as possible.

    1. When I finish a work, I put it on my Kindle. This gives me an entirely different perspective on the piece. I make notes using key phrases so that I can find the places that need changing when I get back to the computer.

      I also review submissions this way so that I’m not always tied to my laptop. With a cover on the Kindle, it’s almost like holding a book (and one with large type for easy reading).

  3. Loveya! You’ll be fine. Stop worrying about redundant adjectives, etc. You are allowed a bit of verbiage here, unlike… another dark place I could mention, haw haw! It’ll be fun. The Kindle tip is a great piece of advice, I regularly do that too. From one writer to another, it’s amazing how invigorating a bit of bloodletting can be, even on your own work. Keep us posted and happy grilling. XX

    1. Thank you for your encouragement, as usual! Funnily enough, I went out yesterday and bought loads of drinks for BBQs – even though we don’t have any guests coming over…

  4. I totally get the not so positive effect of reading on writing, I recall foolishly thinking to reward myself when I finished my first draft, with reading a book by a favourite author, what an error in judgement, before I read the book I was feeling ok about what I had written, afterwards I wanted to build a bonfire, it was devastating, like a conspiracy of the intellect against that sensitive, vulnerable sunconscious mind that channels all the work and gets hammered so very often for no good reason.

    1. Thank you, Claire, for understanding this, although I do try hard not to compare. After all, there is room for all of us on this planet – 50 Shades of Grey and A la recherche du temps perdu. (And for all of us who fall somewhere in-between.)

      1. I totally agree and am therefore wary of what I read when I am full on in writing mode, because although I tell myself not to compare, its almost more visceral than that, I know better now than to expose myself to it.

        Indeed you are right, there is plenty of room for us all and even more so now that epublishing and blogs are a la mode! Bonne continuation mon amie 🙂

  5. I had never thought of what reading other fiction would do to my own feelings about my writing. The times I wrote for a book, I wasn’t reading voraciously, and then there was enough space in time between writing and reading, that I guess it didn’t affect me. I will think of this when I get back to writing my book.
    In the meantime, I wish you the best of luck and mental and emotional stamina to get through the editing of your own book. I am sure it will be a success 🙂

    1. You are so sweet – thank you!
      At least I am older and wiser now – when I was a teenager, you can see in my diaries which authors I was reading at the time, because I start imitating them. Very pathetic, but quite funny to read now!

      1. I’m always embarrassed for myself when I come across things I wrote when I was a teenager. I was so … well, something. I was embarrassing, that’s all–melodramatic. Haha!
        Actually, I think I still am!! That’s even worse!!

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