When it comes to writing fiction, I can happily spend a whole day planning writing and editing. Blogging has been a very different story. Thoughts of my paltry efforts to date are there at the back of my mind. In part, it may be because I am a fantasy writer, an imaginer of the mystic, the fantastic, the surreal. Blogging is about as far from that as you can get, grounding the writer in just the opposite, in the here, the real, the mundane. In part, it is because I believe so many others have already detailed their thoughts on writing in competent and interesting ways. For the main part, it is, however, that my aim is to write novels, and blogging does not directly lead me towards that aim. Not a great excuse for a blank slate over months, I admit, but having written approximately 100,000 words this year as well as editing two manuscripts (and working a day job), I believe I can safely say I have not neglected writing.
Regardless of the reasons for my sparse jottings, the cover of my upcoming novel, The Grotesques, is an irresistible motivator to blog. I think the artist, Heather Dickson, has done an incredible job, depicting the creepy atmosphere surrounding the church in astounding detail.
The editing process is now complete. It involved a little to-ing and fro-ing of the manuscript between myself and publisher Margaret Curelas at Tyche Books over the last couple of months. Emerging writers are frequently cautioned to make their manuscripts as perfect as possible before sending them out. We usually only get one chance to impress a particular publisher, after all. But I venture to say that a work the length of a novel is impossible to perfect without the help of an editor.
At the end of June I attended a crime writing weekend, which included a workshop with Gabrielle Lord, who was quick to say that editors save authors from looking bad, picking up both inconsistencies in plot and language errors. It has been an eye opener to find this out for myself. From preciseness about where a character is standing to correcting mistakes in time references, the editing process has improved the story. Then there was the realisation how many times I used the word ‘back’ in the manuscript – mostly superfluously. I have banned myself from using the word, or at least promised myself I will mull over whether it is essential to the sentence. While I doubt I have erased all trace of poor repetition from the novel, I am at least now much more aware of it than I have been to this point.
The reality is all writers are guilty of repeating words too frequently. Doing so, particularly within a paragraph, creates boring, lifeless writing, and gives the impression of writer with limited skill. Different writers overuse different items of lexis. The ‘find’ feature of Microsoft Word is an invaluable tool to help determine how many times a particular word appears in those four hundred or so pages.
With the proofs read, I am looking forward to the publication of my first novel. I am thrilled there will be a paper version as well as an e-book. Call me old-fashioned, but holding the physical culmination of years of hard work, smelling the crisp leaves and flipping through to favourite passages is a writer’s dream.