Getting through the first edits of my first novel #amediting

I’m halfway through typing up the first edits of my first novel.  ‘John’s Holiday’ was drafted during National Novel Writing Month (NaNo) in 2010.  It’s taken me over three years to work out how I like to edit. The main thing I’ve learnt is to give myself time to do rough edits each day at the end of the days writing. I did that in July this year but not in November 2010.

A little bit of planning would be good, and some decisions around tense and who’s telling the story early on are pretty essential. I’ve no idea who’s telling this story.. sometimes it’s John and sometimes it’s in third person. I’ve not really worked out what second person is yet. I need to read something in second person. As you can tell, I’m a learner, I learn by doing and I’m fully engaged in the doing and learning as I edit my way through my first five novels.

Dialogue in this novel needs more description and notes around the conversations so it’s easier to understand who’s talking to whom. I know who’s chatting, but I’m not sure the reader will. There are bits that read more like a script but I think that’s fine, it’s how I want it.

Further edits to ‘John’s Holiday’ will include ones to:

  • sort out all the bits of research needed
  • get the tense right
  • fix the narration
  • work out the timeline
  • make sure all Chekhov’s gun’s have some meaning later in the text
  • rewrite the beginning and end, I might keep the middle
  • change a few names.. Joan’s already Molly.. I want to keep John
  • I’m sure there’s other fundamental things that need doing like      checking every sentence to make sure it’s moving the story on and needs to  be there.. and add the description and bits around the dialogue that I mentioned earlier
  • proof read.. oh how little people know about novels and how much  work goes into them.. and what a pittance the author gets for their hard  work.. wait, I’m doing this as my hobby

In my mind I’ve been thinking seven edits would knock my draft novels into shape.  Unless I can do some of the edits together I was kidding myself, big time!

halfway througyh first edit.

Can you believe I’ve got five drafts and have been writing for over three years? My current goal is to have these five finished when I’ll have been writing novels for five years. That’s Nov 2015. This one is the test to see if I enjoy the process and so I can see the different stages I go through when I complete a novel.  In future, I need to write in a way that minimises the edits if I can but I expect I will always like to write in one go like I do during NaNo. The next challenge will be to write like that without the discipline of NaNo.


All or nothing : Little and often #amediting #amwriting

All or nothing

I’m usually an all or nothing woman. I took a week off work to design and hand paint fabric for my dining room curtains (they’re wonderful by the way); usually read a book in two days; love to see a number of films in one visit to the cinema; knitted a jumper recently in four days from scratch and have drafted a novel in a month at least once a year over the past four years. That’s what I love about my character and doing things compulsively in one go keeps me feeling alive and loving my life.

hand-painted curtains

Little and often

When it comes to something that would take a longer time commitment to complete in one go that my current need for financial security (the day job) allows, I often struggle to find the space in my life to complete it. I need to find my equivalent of all or nothing in little chunks. Finally this year I’m hoping I’ve done that with my editing. If you’re a regular reader of mine, you’ll know I have five draft novels I want to complete, each one will take at least seven edits with a lot of research. Let alone the amount I need to learn about how to write and how I write.

This year I think I have finally found the answer. I’ve carved out an hour a day on work days and I’ve become the project manager of my novels. It’s my responsibility to coordinate the getting of the novels into shape. My other roles in this new project (I know I’ve been writing for over four years but humour me here please) are of editor and researcher. The researcher’s going to have to wait a few weeks but the editor role’s kicked in. The project manager gave me two weeks to do my first read through in three years which I not only completed but am onto page seventeen of the first edits. My target is ten or more pages of edits each time I do an hours work and that seems more than achievable.


When there’s something I want to do that competes with my work life I have to break it into manageable chunks that seem doable and not too overwhelming. One hour a day on week days to do ten pages of edits, that’s doable. ‘John’s holiday’, the novel I’m working on, is currently two hundred and twenty two pages long. That’s ten times twenty two point two which means my first edits should be typed in by fourteenth of Feb and if I spend some time on it over a weekend I could easily take a week or more off that date.

Now, let me do my hour of edits for today before the day job kicks in..

Womens talk.. and the C word..

I was going to ask to take a picture of one of my breasts in the x-ray machine (I’ve no idea what it’s called), while they were taking my mammograms this week. You might have gathered from my last post, it was a second screening I had to go back for. When I was growing up people didn’t talk about cancer. I’m not sure how much we talk about it now though there will be few, if any, of you reading this who’s family and friends have not been impacted by cancer.

When it came to it I didn’t take my camera in as I wanted to be present, there in every moment and not viewing my moments through a camera. I tried really hard but whatever I did I wasn’t truly there. My mind was all over the place. Mostly thinking about their décor and what I thought might make me feel more relaxed. Plain white walls with nothing to break the eyes view. Dark blue chairs. Those were the only colours I noticed, pure white with a line of dark blue at chair seat height.

Thoughtfully, a consultant had sneaked in some more interesting pictures and colours where no-one bar the patient would look and I was very grateful for that, as I expect most patients are, it gives us something else to focus on while our mind is trying to tackle some more fundamental information we may hear.

The week between having the first pictures taken and the second, after the first showed up something that needed investigating, threw up all sorts of thoughts and emotions including the reflections I wrote about in my last post. As a second thought, I picked up a couple of leaflets while I was waiting to have my second x-rays taken. Just in case, you know. I was staying positive, a positive mind helps heal the body if you ask me, thinking of all the content I was getting as first hand emotion if I wanted to use this experience in one of my novels. However, just in case, I slipped the two booklets into my bag as I knew I might be a bit of a wreck later and not think to pick them up.

What were the booklets? ‘Breast Cancer Risk the facts’ by Breakthrough Breast Cancer @BreakthroughBC and ‘HOW ARE YOU FEELING? The emotional effects of cancer’ by Macmillan cancer support @macmillancancer. According to one of them, in the UK, ‘One in eight women will develop breast cancer during their lifetime’. Thankfully, I was given the all clear but it gave me a minute insight into how someone who is called for a second screening might feel if they have another outcome.

be breast aware

There’s lots of information out there if you want or need to know more. There are things that affect our risk that we can do nothing about, age at puberty, age, time of menopause. Then there are things we can do, including monthly self checking.

Please make sure you are breast aware and know the risks you are taking in your lifestyle choices. For me I think the main risk is my weight and lack of physical exercise these days. I need to make some lifestyle choices to change that.

Breast cancer affects men and women, please make sure you and your loved ones are ‘tuned into things’. There are also some new charities out there providing advice to men on all cancers, @ballstocancer is one I currently follow on twitter.

That odd item that reminds us of each other

We give gifts.  In our family lots of them. And we keep them.  Over the years I’ve got better at clutter clearing and have got rid of many little items, that if I had a larger house I might still have.  Today I’m paying tribute to any and all little items you’ve given or received, that remind you of friends and family in your life.

The time you went shopping and loved something, for it to be in your hand later that day or at your next birthday.  The smallest or cheapest of items that comes in handy often when you thought never would, each time you use it you are reminded of the person it’s linked to, even though they may have completely forgotten it.  That hand made item from your more creative or less creative of friends and family.  Items for your hobby that might not be quite what you needed but take your work to a different place while reminding you how much you’re loved.

Here’s a few I see as I look around my kitchen diner, ceramic toast rack, hanging tea light holder, hand knitted dish cloth, petite ceramic milk jug, canvasses for my artwork, paints for my artwork, small wooden sign with bunting and hearts on, wooden toast grabber.

toast grabber

There’s a reason for this post.  I’m reflecting, on my life and those in it.  I have a hospital appointment later today and at this moment I have no idea what I’m going to hear and if I’ll like it or not.  For this one moment in my day I’m thinking of all the good and wonderful people in my life and the little things I keep around me that help me remember them and the fun times we’ve had together.

Where would I be without the little wooden toast grabber my sister gave me when I’m having a toasted hot cross bun for breakfast on the one day I have a hospital appointment I could do without?

This blog is two years old

I’ve been blogging for two years.  Two years and two days.

Huge thanks to everyone reading this.  I seem to be a bit random in my post topics and regularity.  We’re getting towards April, brace yourself for daily posts from me again as I head into my third year of the A-Z blogging challenge.  The plan this year (as it was last year and I failed miserably) is to pre-write, sketch and schedule so I can enjoy reading more of others offerings than I usually manage.

For many years I wanted to blog but didn’t know how and didn’t have the confidence.  Most things I’ve done in life have started out like that.  Something I’ve wanted to do but didn’t know how and didn’t have the confidence to complete it till I did, then wondered what all the fuss that I’d given myself was about.  That’s not changed.  As I write this blogiversary post, I’m in the thick of editing my first novel, three years after drafting it.

It’s taken me three years to work out how I write, edit and to get the confidence to realise I can complete it.  How I’m longing for the day when I wonder what all the fuss I’m giving myself about editing and writing novels is all about.  Then for the day when I forget what it was like when I didn’t know all the nuances of novel writing and start forging into the nuances of film because that was the dream which started the novel writing.  The dream that got me novelling was of watching a chick flick of a story I’d written.  I have that image etched in my mind, well, I did, the more I realise what’s involved in writing and how unlikely it is that anyone will read anything I’ve completed the more the etching is fading.  It doesn’t matter because I love the process and love meeting others who want to write and many who are published as I will be one day.


How would I celebrate two years of blogging? How I’d like to celebrate everything if I could.. With a fly past..

Decided not to take a new pic for this post but found this one that I took in 2011 at Waddington Airshow – can’t help it, I love airshows.  I’ll be going again this year and who knows, I might write a post about it.