Saturday 11 February 2017

Manuscript or how to be a ponce*

When Kylie Fitzpatrick ( 'The Ninth Stone' inter alia) agreed to edit my m/s and mentor me I found myself referring to her - in polite conversation - as 'my editor' - like the ponce, always on the phone to his editor, in the film of  'Educating Rita'. Similarly when entering the half-sleeve t-shirt-clad emporium that is The Apple Shop I found myself talking to a young chap called Ed, they're all named Ed aren't they? and telling him I needed a MacBook Air to write my novel. He looked at me as if he'd misheard and seemed unable to cope with phrases which didn't contain terms like e-mails, downloads, netflix, speed, apps and megabytes (or is it bites?). He seemed somewhat bored when he showed me Pages. Not enough challenge for him. Then again maybe he too thought I was a ponce.

The day my website went live I showed a friend how part of it was dedicated to my tutoring. She glanced at the site and my business card and muttered 'Writer and teacher?' 'Well I do write' I said, aware that she defintely thought I sounded like a ponce.
After a struggle against the events in my late mother's life, from April 2014 onwards, I do finally have a full manuscript ready to deliver to my editor. ( Well almost.)Doesn't that phrase sound like I really am a writer? In fact, this time around, I'm pleased with the copy. My editing has worked, the suggestions Kylie and other readers have made have been truly helpful and all I need do now is take out about 50,000 words - it's far too long!

I don't believe I'm too precious about my writing and even I hate long novels but I really do have to slim it down, keep the pace and lose repetitive, humdrum minutiae. I'm roughly half way through this major cutting back and I seem to be adding to the word count rather than cutting it down.
I'm hoping that by the time I get to the last third of the novel the task will become more evident and easier. The last third is only just in its second draft whereas most of the whole is in its fourth or fifth draft and is a tighter read.

It so happens I'm taking heed and doing as two GPs have advised - resting. This gives me the headspace, excuse and time I need to revise the novel. It's naturally very time-consuming but even I, an only ever once-published debut author, can see, to misquote 'Educating Rita', my manuscript could get into a pile of 'to be published' writings. This is the first time I've felt that level of confidence about my work as a writer. It's also the first time since April 2014 that I've had chance to read the whole and simply concentrate on the m/s. But the more I read the more I see how all writers have their weaknesses and my errors may well be getting fewer in number. I sense I'm crossing the rubikon from student writer to something resembling an author. I may just be getting ahead of myself, of course. Or perhaps I am just being a ponce. Either way I truly do sense that I've progressed. Reading, reading, reading that's the key. And when reading it's good to set your own work of fiction against published novels. Maybe, one day, my work truly will be seen by a wider audience. ( If that doesn't sound too much like being a ponce.) I'm already making notes for the sequel - I appear to be in for the long haul! Ponce!

* wannabe