Days 66 – 75 (May 2-11)
After today: Sometime next week I’ll delve into the next editing sweep of Book Two. No firm title yet but possibly Present tense. Will start counting down the days again from Monday
Today: Wonderful chat over coffee with a writer friend. We’ve both finished editing of novels and have set them aside for now. Short stories are in sights for both of us. While driving to meet her I had a workable idea for a short story that I feel committed to and I think there is time to write and shape it before the submission date.
Recent days: Fiddling with short stories. Completed one and half finished another. They are just OK, probably not worth submitting. I might try to rework one of them; the other will probably fit as a longer story or as part of a novel.
Reading: Raced through a couple of ordinary novels. Large print was great. Before that I did finish the Collins book the keepers of truth and was pleased I did. Most of it turned out as I predicted but there were two twists I didn’t forsee.
May 2-7: Finished editing Book One and found a title that gelled – came out of nowhere – feels exactly right – Past Imperfect; it resonates on several levels for more than one character. That book is set aside for the moment. Will seek feedback soon.
Reflections from the bridge
Other: Usual long walk in the park last Sunday with another writer friend who is preparing to launch her fifth novel in September.
Day 65 (May 1)
Yesterday rolled in a new week. Today it is a new month. Here in south-east Queensland we are cooling towards our winter – it will be milder than many around the world.
Editing: A quick scroll through both parts of Book One picked up all the highlighted areas that still need attention. Most are minor – like checking a date, or naming a street. They won’t take long. I’m getting through the more substantial changes needed in ten chapters of Part One and four chapters of Part Two. As only two of those are problematic, 5th May still seems possible for completion. Fingers crossed.
Critiquing: Worked on a chapter for one Writer’s Group member for Friday’s meeting. Like me, her work improves with each revision.
Reading: I’m tiring of the Collins novel and am tempted to go to the last chapter to find out if the ending turns out as I expect. Will see how it grabs me tonight before I decide.
Days 62-64 (April 28-30)
It’s hard to believe another week has rolled around.
Today – 30 April: Very focused on editing, and worked pretty well straight through 20 chapters. I’m hoping that means enough work had been done on earlier sweeps and not that I’m missing something now; not still too close to see the flaws. All changes were fairly superficial – of the tweaking variety. When I’m done, I guess that means the manuscript is ready for some wider opinions – beyond the Writer’s Group and my own. Hoping to finish and format by 5 May.
Pages are looking cleaner now
Over the lunch period I critiqued a draft short story in memoir form for a Group member. Aren’t other people’s lives fascinating? Usually we don’t get under the surface for casual friends unless through memoirs and the guesses we make from reading their fiction. More critiquing to come before our May meeting on Friday.
Weekend editing – 28-29 April: In fits and starts. Many interruptions. Cursory scan of two chapters only. Disappointed as it means I missed the April 30 Part One deadline for completion. Still it feels better to have a goal than not, and I don’t think I’ll be too far behind.
Weekend reading: Somehow I got distracted and read very little for a change. Am still with the Collins the keepers of truth. While still enjoying the writing if not the story, I admit to finding the visions of the industrialisation impacts somewhat repetitive. Am about four fifths through and I got the message quite a while back, unless something new crops up to prove it all needed to be said over and again.
Day 61 (April 27)
Editing: Going well. Almost done with the latest sweep of Part One of Book One. Tomorrow I move on to Part Two. Still trying to settle on titles for parts and books.
Reading: Weekends seem to come round very quickly. That’s when major reading happens. I’m more than half-way half-way through the keepers of truth, and found the source of the title. Won’t spoil it for anyone – but what an impressive character duo. I love the scene where the meaning becomes obvious.
I’m also planning to revisit The Loop by Nicholas Evans for some light relief – great yarn about the tensions between the protectors and hunters of wolves.
The other book I want to revisit, but with serious intent is An imperfect offering by James Orbinski. In the not so distant future I expect to start editing the second book of the family and friendship saga series I am working on, and want to be in tune with the awful realities of humanitarian aid work. Orbinski’s book among several others, is so compelling about the work of Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) and will I hope, help me to bring some authenticity to my own writing. In my Book Two, Freya, after experiencing disappointments and sadness in Australia, sets off as a volunteer with MSF to work in South Sudan.
For anyone who is interested in what happens to the ordinary people (many of whom become extraordinary) in a country during devastating climatic conditions combined with the upheavals and politics of war, I recommend any of the participating country sites for MSF. The one I most regularly follow is www.msf.org.au for contemporary issues. Many such issues are mirrored in what happened in the time-frame of my story, set in the late 1990s. Orbinski’s writing itself is easy and flowing. My difficulty is with the impact of the stories and the need to read in increments to take in the horrors. This is real life, and I guess that is why I can’t read manufactured horror stories.
Days 58-60 (24-26 April)
26 April: The work went on apace. Ahead of schedule. Minor changes only – tightening sentences, deleting sentences, slight re-ordering of sentences within paragraphs, splitting very long paragraphs. Had an odd sense it was Monday. Public holiday yesterday took me out of phase.
Tranquil at this time
Missed usual bus by minutes and the next one was almost 30 minutes late due to a breakdown, so I had a really close encounter with the bus station and the cacophony of birds settling for the night – one star, crescent moon, pink fluff clouds turning to grey, then soft dark. That was OK.
25 April: Emotional and reflective Anzac Day. Afternoon walk with a friend. Only editing happened in thought but was productive.
Reflections from the bridge
24 April: Productive. Racing through the chapters.
Day 57 (April 23)
Today: Managed to visit the prologue and four chapters of Part One and made lots of changes even though they’ve been worked over many times. However, I’ve decided those five segments are now cooked enough. Will see what tomorrow brings.
Weekend: I did no editing over the weekend as I promised myself and felt fresher for the fray today. So days 55 and 56 were spent reading, the inevitable shopping / cooking chores (that’s right I’m a reluctant housekeeper and all that goes with that), and mulling over a lifetime of photographs (I have a family photo-book project in mind). It will be fun selecting from and scanning long-ago pictures. I found so many forgotten memories; very nostalgic and story fodder for the future.
Reading: Michael Collins book, the keepers of truth is more vicious in parts than I expected from the blurbs and the first few pages. Not my usual fare, but I’ll stay the course, the writing is outstanding. I’m sure the Booker Prize judges will be pleased I agree with their opinions.
Also finished a couple of other books. First Battlelines by Tony Abbott, which I enjoyed – it reminded me of frustrations when working in the Commonwealth Government about the complexities of the federal system and the buck-passing between Canberra and the states and the impossibility of achieving better than a compromise that didn’t really serve the needs of the nation. I wouldn’t have missed that experience although it was tough to deal with, during eight over-worked years that included elections and the breaking up and merging of departments will all the possibly unwarranted costs of that and the resulting overlap of responsibilities that were seldom sorted out amidst the volume of other priorities. Oh, and the onerous burden of managing poor performers who should never have been selected!
The other book is titled In search of my father: Dementia is no match for a daughter’s determination by Helena Popovic. It would be of interest to many beginning to cope with family members with dementia. I read parts of it and scanned the rest with a view to discovering new material as I’ve read much on the topic in recent years because of experience with two elderly relatives with Alzheimer’s Disease and another with a brain tumour. I didn’t find anything new, but the book provides many examples and explanations about recent research that helps to ward off both mental and physical deterioration. Developments around neuroplasticity are well outlined.
Day 54 (April 20)
Spent the morning still with the last chapter and the last few paragraphs. Because it is now the end of Book One without immediate follow-on to the rest of the story, the changes are not right yet. Ideas are incubating but haven’t quite surfaced. I will get there. Played truant in the afternoon and I think I’ll do the same this weekend as I’m feeling a trifle stale. And there are all those lovely books on the shelf to delve into.
I finished Bel Canto which ended exactly how it needed to. A magnificent book.
My next is by Michael Collins, the keepers of truth. Only pages in, I’m hooked already. Sadly, it’s another challenge to my poor eyes because of small print. Ah well! I know it will be worth the effort.
E-readers are a boon for older folk because of font size changes.
Till next week.