Friday, November 25, 2011

The End -- Finally Finishing My WIP

At long last, I have typed THE END on the final page of Postcards From Ireland.  It has not been fun.
I find this very strange, because this was a memoir, an amusing romp into a very pleasant time in my past, it should have practically written itself.  But it didn’t.  To steal a phrase from Meg Gardiner, it was like pulling my own teeth: slow, painful and messy.  Every sentence was agony.
And when I say I have finished, I don’t mean the first draft.  A first draft to me is when you can read the manuscript from beginning to end without bumping into the notes I leave behind, like breadcrumbs on an unfamiliar trail:
-          TK: is this how you spell Cladda?
-          TK: check this for accuracy; Wikipedia isn’t always right
-          TK: this paragraph is shite; fix it!  I don’t care how, just do it!
-          TK: Insert the hippopotamus story here
So I still need to go over the manuscript, rewrite it and fill in all the gaps before I can actually call it the first draft; what I possess now is a rough draft and fervent hopes that the future work goes faster and is less painful.
The hows and the whys of the difficultly are no longer important; all I care about is that it is behind me and that it is not normal.  I finished my previous novel in 88 days with a final word count of 93,000 words, but I have been kicking this book around for 262 days and only managed 44,000 words (for those of you keeping score, that s about 167 words a day).  Granted, I complied and published More Postcards From Across the Pond and rewrote my novel to my agent’s specifications during that time, so I wasn’t completely slacking off, but still, that is an appallingly long time for such a paltry output.
If I’d been following Rachel Aaron’s method of producing 10k words a day, I would have had it done in less than a week.
(By the way, Rachel’s claim is not an empty boast, it’s a step-by-step, achievable method.  Well worth a look.)
I don’t think I’m quite ready for 10k a day—I’m far too disorganized and I have an amazing talent for frittering away time—but I’d better step up the pace on the revisions and the rewrites or my “10-Year Anniversary” book won’t be out until my 20th.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Size Does Matter

I moved again. Not from one flat to another, or to another blog, but to a different PC, and I’m a bit knackered by the effort. Strange how each of those occasions seems to require the same amount of time, tenacity and heartache. Granted, the latter two don’t involve lugging a sofa up and down several flights of stairs, but in some cases I think that might be preferable.
The move came about due to a miscalculation I made two years ago.
When I first came to England, I was writing on an AlphaSmart, but after a while I longed for a laptop, so when I began carrying one around for work, I put all my files on it. The problem with that was, when I was unable to get a front seat on the bus, I was unable to open it up and had to spend the trip just staring out the window. This became a pressing problem when a sudden surge of people began riding the bus. Usually, I was the only person on when I boarded, but over time more and more people appeared. And they all sat in the front seats.
My brainstorm was to buy a mini-laptop that I could open even if I was sitting in one of the regular seats.
It seemed the perfect solution, so I bought an Acer netbook over the 2009 Christmas holidays—a sort of belated gift to myself—and spent several days configuring it. Then two things happed simultaneously when I went back to work: first, the people disappeared, then they brought in a new style of bus that had a much roomier front area containing as many as eleven seats I could use that had no seat in front of them. But I had bought the netbook, so I was going to use it, dammit.

Acer Vs a full sized Dell
It wasn’t a bad little PC; it was light and as easy to carry as a hardcover book and had all the power I needed to write, manipulate photographs and manage my website, but it had a tiny little screen. Working is such a confined viewing area made my life difficult. My spreadsheets wouldn’t fit, photos looked too large and the area I had to write in was limited. Also, when handling my e-mail, the Yahoo page header, e-mail header and all the other shit Yahoo throws at you made the text area of the e-mail so small I could only see a few lines.
To top that off, the cruelest irony of all occurred when I did have to sit in a regular seat, where I discovered that the laptop, small though it was, still could not be opened without bumping into the seat in front of me: the entire reason I purchased it was based on a fallacy. Writing on it was not impossible, but it was very difficult indeed. Still, I bought the damn thing, so I was going to use it.
But this week I figured two years was enough, so I spent the last couple of days configuring everything back to my work laptop. And unlike last time, I created a second user account so my business self could log in and get all my work stuff and my writing self could keep the writing area free of distracting clutter (sometimes working on a client specification is preferable to tackling the next chapter in the novel).
So far, it’s working a treat, but the time-suck has been amazing. No matter how many times I do this, it never gets any easier.
Now you just know that when I go back to work next week a whole gang of people will be on the bus taking up all of the front seats.