Wednesday 29 April 2015

Forgetting is Easy

It's been a while since I posted, nearly a year in fact. (oops)

There's been plenty going on but the urge to blog has been strangely absent, perhaps because of the dangerous amount of time I spend on twitter where my thoughts can appear as I think them and without the unnecessary need to plan and focus and edit in the same way that a blog post requires.

If you have missed me on twitter (how?) or indeed if you never go near it then here is a very brief update of where I am with my writing -

I finished my MG fantasy adventure after much work (and some frenzied hair pulling) with the help of Imogen Cooper and Maurice Lyon at The Golden Egg Academy and sent it out to agents in September. In October I signed with my fabulous and amazing agent, Kate Shaw from the The Viney Agency (pause for whooping and excited dancing)

So with one book finished and out of my hands I did as had been recommended and started my second book. I was confident that after learning so much from the Golden Egg experience and going through such a rigorous editing process that my next book would be sufficiently easier to write.

Dear reader I must tell you now...


The first draft of my new book has driven me half mad.
  • I have questioned whether I could write at all.
  • I have questioned my sanity.
  • I have wondered whether it might be better to try something easier? Perhaps scuba diving with great white sharks? 
  • I've thought seriously about giving it up entirely and admitting that writing was just not for me.

Maybe my first book was just a weird fluke? 

But, BUT...somehow with the help and support of lovely writerly friends I slashed and hacked my way through a first draft and I now have something really quite rubbish.

And I know what you're going to say - "first drafts are supposed to be bad" and I know that's true but I had forgotten exactly how BAD they were. I'd forgotten in fact just how much work went into the early part of novel writing, of getting the meat and bones onto the page in some semblance of a story.

For nearly a year I'd been polishing and revising and editing my previous book, but I'd been working on something that did at least resemble a book. The plot, the structure, the basics were already there - I just had to refine them and polish them up. I had forgotten the bit before. Almost entirely in fact. And yet the first draft of my last book had been just as bad, possibly worse, but all I remembered was the beautifully polished version...

At this point I had an epiphany.

I realised that all those references to birthing a book were not just about the visceral love and attachment you have to your baby book but also about the strange tricks your mind plays on you after it's all over. Just as women forget the pain of childbirth, so writers forget just how terrible their first drafts were.

Selective amnesia has it's reasons of course - the continuance of the human race for one but also, and even more sneakily, to trick writers into starting another book.

And of course I'm glad for it. Perhaps if I'd remembered I never would have started at all. Now I have a first draft, however horrible it is, I can get on with the art of making it better. And no doubt when it comes to book three and book four I'll be just as innocent and forgetful as before.

But at least editing is easy right?  I'm sure I remember it as being easy...


  1. Very funny! And er ... is this the same woman I remember who was adamant that she HATED editing and LOVED first drafts??? Hi hi. The joy of editing gets us all in the end (or not ... !)

  2. Well, this makes me feel a whole lot better about MY process! Thank you for reminding us that though we may be words apart, all writers suffer the same fate.