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Tuesday, 14 July 2015

The long road to Cider Lane

It has been a long haul since the dark days at the end of May 2013, when i first penned the first chapter in draft one. Without much idea where the story was going to take me. Having half an idea for something a little different from my normal writing I ran with it. By the end of June i had 70000 words, a first draft and still no idea what i had written. It was however complete in of itself.
Though the first draft took a month, written with the nanowritmo, http://nanowrimo.org/   approach you would think the second draft would be easy. Instead it was a long slog of three months before I was happy with draft 2, now 80000 words long. It is a fact of writing life, the more you seek to trim the longer the manuscript gets.
The revisions were complicated by wanting to change the point of view character on one chapter, while keeping the structure of the novel.For anyone who has not read the novel , which would be most people, the structure is a hop scotch. which is to say it changes POV between the two principal characters in turn each chapter. Susanna chapter , followed by a Colin chapter  , then back to Susanna. While the novel doesn't need this contrived structure as such, it worked well and made it flow, so maintaining it was important to me. By changing the POV character for one chapter i had to in effect split two chapters into three and extensively rewrite them . There were other changes too, many and lots indeed to borrow a Pratchettisum.
Finally after the long haul of draft 2 I  gave a copy to the wonderful Julie Dyson-Abad to give it a first read. Then sat nervously waiting for her to get back to me. With a strange sense of impending doom. Being aware that bad grammar and occasional rambling aside there were sections of the manuscript which could be construe as risky.
A few short weeks latter and many cups of coffee with Julie and Joey Abad I launched myself into draft 3.
A month after that draft 4 which took longer and had a lot of reworking as the manuscript grew longer.
Finally at the end of draft 4 I was confident enough to allow the most dangerous critic of all to have a read through of a draft. For those you love and who love you have a licence to be critical more than any other. So I let Rose read a copy. With a scene of impending doom.
Having survived the doom of draft 4 I began draft 5 which turned out to be the most complex yet. Not because i was changing a great deal, indeed the changes were mostly small things. But because i was attempting to get every word, every sentence, perfect. As well as change in subtle ways my characters and how they enacted.
Then there i was with draft 5 complete in December 2013 and the book as good as i could make it. Not because i considered it perfect. But because i could not face writing another word or reading through it again. There comes a point you just have to let the manuscript sit for a while. But i didn't, instead i sent it off to a publishing company on the web in high hopes.
A few days latter i got a response and given they quoted me just under £1000 for proofing and concept work I spotted them for the fleecing merchants they were. Professional proof reading costs money, and if you chose to use a professional proof reader, most of which are lovely people, then you should do so. But when the 'publishing' company is quoting you a small fortune to publish your work start walking away there and then .
Instead i sent my manuscript to the wonderful Steph Roundsmith who I have the good fortune to know, Who agreed to have a read through and give me feed back as a favor despite it been her livelihood.  +http://www.stephroundsmith.co.uk/
More impending doom, not least because Steph is a professional and its mildly terrifying to let some one who knows what there doing look at your work.
A month later she came back to me with an wall of feed back. Lots of positive energy and encouragement and a list of things to work on.
I opened up the document , with her notes at my side, to start draft 6 and stared at the screen for an hour.
Then closed it again.
Steven King, a some what successful author that you may have heard of...... +http://stephenking.com/
advises that once you have finished a draft let it sit for a while and forget about it. Write something else entirely and just let it sit till you can come back to it new,
After 5 drafts i did what Mr King recommend, starting two new novels ,, Maybes Daughter, and The Wells of Time.   Which may one day see the light of day. And a host of short stories that are unlikely to unless they appear on here,
And after working on each of thees for a while i opened Cider lane , looked at it a while , changes a word here and there in the first chapter. then closed it again.
Finally about a year later I felt ready to face it once more. In truth as much as anything because I had hit a writing block in Maybe's Daughter and needed to do something else. So ended up opening up Cider lane for ten minutes and reading the first chapter. Not out of any real intent to work on it, just to split my mind away form the novel I was struggling with.
Several hours later I had got 40 page into draft 6, discovered forgotten gems within the manuscript and was rediscovering my passion for the story of Susanna and Colin in that abandoned little cottage in Summerset. Strange non conversations, of silences and stars. Whatever magic had been missing was back and Draft 6 finally got under way.
Two months hard work later it was finally done. and short of letting ti sit for several more years it was time to publish ,,, and be damned as the saying goes.

anyway, if there is a conclusion to all this its that if you want to write persevere.