Saturday 21 November 2009


I don't want you to think that I'm reluctant to continue with my second novel - Winchester Blues. It's just that I've got writer's itch concerning Cyprus Blues and I want to scratch it. Must scratch it, actually.

Woops. Supper is ready. (John cooks on Saturday and he is a marvellous cook!) Must go. Will continue this post tomorrow.

Okay, so supper last night was great: roast pork, crunchy crackling, squash, cabbage, roast potatoes and oodles of red wine. Plus, John's home-made ice-cream afterwards.

(John has created several ice-cream recipes using his own ice-cream maker. One,for him, overflowing with cream and calories, and a more weight-watcher version for me. And that latter recipe was actually published in Saucy Shorts for Chefs (a paper-back collection of stories and recipes) to accompany my short story Rennaisance.)

Anyway, I was explaining to him over supper, gesticulating with my fork to emphasis my point, a valiant piece of squash bravely hanging on in there, about the lot of the writer.

"A writer needs two things," I slurred. "perseverance as well as talent. And, of course, patience."

"That's three things," he said, rather unnecessarily, I thought.

But the point I then went on to elaborate is that you can't just write something and accept your first draft as 'ready to go'. You have to edit, edit,edit and then edit again until, in your own eyes, it's as good as it can be.

So, having decided not to find a literary agent for Cyprus Blues, I had originally thought 'blow this', I'll just stick the whole novel on the web.But the more I thought about this, the more I realised that I don't actually know how on earth I would advertise it.

This led me to thinking that perhaps I should first try to find a small publisher, with low over-heads, who's prepared to take the chance with an unknown writer (relatively speaking).

(I have chronicled my editing of Cyprus Blues in my writing section so, technically, that is where this should be. However, it works better for me if I write in this general post section. To read my earlier comments, refer to those sections about novels I have written, short story writing and journalism.)

Anyway, it has been some time since my last edit of Cyprus Blues, which I thought would be the final one. But in gathering up the chapters, introductory letter and synopsis, I decided to have a re-read, just to refresh my memory. And horror of horrors, I saw that it could all be improved again.

So, I then had a choice - put it to one side and count it as useful practice in novel writing and leave it at that or re-edit.

And I chose the latter. This novel is way too important for me to give up on it now.

It has been a two-pronged re-edit.

Firstly, I have been reading a chapter at a time, making corrections as I go along, whilst having a coffee/hot chocolate and ciggie in any number of pub gardens, after I've had a swim and before I take Archie for a walk.

In fact, I totally surprised myself last week. I was at The King Alfred's Pub, outside, of course (groan, moan)trying to read the chapter where Big Al gives a potted version of the history of Cyprus.

Originally, I'd found this a very difficult chapter. The danger was that it might sound too much like telling (the big no no in writing). So, I'd had to work especially hard on it previously AD INFINITUM.

The weather was really blustery that day and I'd had to anchor down anything that could fly away. But I was so intrigued as the story of Cyprus unfolded, that I forgot that I'd written it and just kept reading, despite the fact that it was cold as well as windy. And that pleasure in reading it has given me the kind of motivation I need to push for a publisher.

Secondly, at home, I've made the corrections on the computer version. Pleased to say that I've only changed a small amount of text. The real changes have been in punctuation and sentence length.

I'd already re-edited the novel to minimise the use of ! (another writing no no) but had obviously not done a very good job of it because they were all over the bloody place!

I also recognised the fact that too many of my sentences were way too long STILL. So, I did a lot of separating into two. I'd also used a lot of : ; and -, which made my writing look more like a report than a novel.

And, I'd used loads and loads of conjuctions, particularly which.

Today, I was up to chapter 13 reading from my print out and chapter 8 on the computer, which isn't bad going. Should be finished before Xmas, when my itch to continue working on Winchester Blues will become irresistible.

However, in reading aloud chapter 8, I insinctively included a new term of endearment that Jack uses on Kate to butter her up, so to speak. 'That's so good,' I thought.

Trouble is, I'll have to include that in the following chapters and the only way for me to remember it is to write it in large letters and stick the message right in front of me on my computer. (Shall't tell you what it is. You'll have to guess when you eventually read the book (which I hope you will!).

So...I have perseverance...I have patience...but do I have talent? Now that's up to other people to judge. All I know is that I'm making this novel as good as I possibly can and then who knows...

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