Monthly Archives: May 2010

On having too many commitments

For someone with a fairly strong lazy streak, I tend to pack a lot into my life.

This morning, for instance, I’m forcing myself to do some more editing on my manuscript in between coffee and breakfast, but there are a lot of other competing requirements.

My dog, Jedi, is bouncing around the house turning himself inside out with the sheer effort of letting me know just how important is it that he goes for a walk as soon as possible.

I should probably unstack the dishwasher before the dirty dishes start breeding and taking over the kitchen bench.

I should probably take some time to relax with my husband, George, after a long week of work.

I need to keep up with my exercise, because as much as it’s a pain in the proverbial to do it, I always feel better afterwards.

We have very little fresh food left in the house, so we’ll need to buy some fruit and veg sometime if we want to avoid scurvy.

I need to bring some firewood in so we can actually have fires at night without risking pulling out spider-infested logs in the dark.

At some stage I want to pull the bed out and vacuum underneath it, since there’s six years’ worth of dust and animal hair built up. (But actually, I’m kind of scared of what I might find under there)

I want to actually do something with the garden while the weather is still good and before the winter weeds take over.

And all this time, the clock is ticking down to 12.30 when I have to go and ride my horse, which again I always enjoy. But I’ll get home as the sun’s going down and I’ll be cold and tired and then I’ll have to get in the shower and get ready to go out for dinner with friends. Which I don’t begrudge, but suddenly the weekend is looking horribly short.

Is it any wonder I find it so difficult to get any editing/writing done? At the least, I have moved past a block I was having with my plot and am once again progressing, however slowly that might be.

Through all this, my cat is sitting next to me, purring away, with nothing more on his agenda for the day but sleep, sleep and more sleep.

So which of us is really the intelligent species here?

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Every author who wants to be published must have a blog

That’s what they say, and far be it from me to argue with the ubiquitous ‘they’. Hence I have started this blog to talk about my writing. Because when your full time job almost entirely involves writing, and when you grab random, hard-earned moments of spare time for creative writing, a blog about writing (which by definition entails writing) is exactly what you need. Ah, yeah…

I’d like to think that I’ll post regularly on this blog, but given my slow progress with my current novel, I won’t commit to anything right now. You see, I’m currently working on the Dreaded Second Draft. Otherwise known as Second Draft Purgatory, where you go through that piece of writing that you thought was a masterpiece laden with wit and brilliance when you wrote it last year, and then you discover that it is in fact a pile of shit. So what I’m doing now is not so much writing as it is deleting, re-writing and swearing incessantly.

I dream of a life of Perfect First Drafts, where the plot is always sound, the characters are always heroes (or villains, or at least believable) and the imagery is always evocative. Because I love writing – I love the feeling of words flowing from my mind to my fingers to the screen; I love the burst of adrenaline it gives me, whether I’m writing a novel or a communications plan; and I love how my characters become so real to me that I mourn them like lost friends when the story comes to an end.

By contrast, second drafts are a hard slog where you’re forced to face up to the improbable plot lines you thought you could get away with, poor character motivations and whole scenes where you tell rather than show. It’s hard, and it’s demoralising, and you have to cut sentences, or scenes, or even characters that you just KNOW are brilliant in order to save the plot.

But in the end it’s always worth it, because you become even more intimate with your story, and over time it becomes everything you’d hoped it would be when you wrote the first sentence – even if you ended up deleting that first sentence.

This blog will be about my writing joys and miseries, but it won’t be exclusively about my writing, because if it was, every entry would be something like:

‘Got up at 5am to write. Had coffee, didn’t get much done. Love Rebecca.’

So I suspect I’ll also be talking about the other things in my life, like horse riding, cooking, eating, drinking, and stuff that gives me the shits. And hopefully I won’t be spending more time crafting these posts than I do working on my novel.


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