Days 48-49 (April 14-15)
Editing amounted to a languid approach to the beginning of Part Two of the family saga. Worked on four chapters and made superficial changes to slack sentences, restructured a few paragraphs, compacted a short chapter, deleted parts of it, then included the revision within an earlier chapter. All will need a good going over again. Unbeknown to each other, Freya is training as a midwife in Aberdeen while Alexander is living in Glasgow and teaching in a private school on the city outskirts. Both are struggling to recover from the mysterious changes to their expectations.
The reading I had in mind for the weekend did not happen. Instead I was captured by a book recommended by one of my sisters. I’d set it aside because of the small print, but once started, cannot put it out of mind. It is Bel Canto by Ann Patchett. I am entranced by its difference. Usually long stretches of detail and description do not entice, but this author’s touch is so light with delicious and unexpected diversions I don’t want to skip at all. Such a cast of characters, so distinctive I haven’t lost touch with one of them yet. If only I could get a large print edition I’d be in heaven, and wouldn’t need to ration it out because of tired eyes.
I’ve immediately put other Patchett books on library request, ready to be beguiled again.
Day 35 (March 27)
Goals for today:
Goal 1: Work on later chapters of Part One with a view to finishing the editing of the Part by my provisional deadline of 30 March – 3 days to go.
Progress: I worked on six chapters, from 13 -18, and made many minor changes. I’m happy with the result and believe that initial writing skills improved as the work progressed due to attendance at courses / workshops, along with paying greater attention to the mechanics of writing when reading valued books and most importantly the feedback from Writing Group colleagues.
Scots locations visited were Glasgow where Freya and her friend Kirsty gain experience in different nursing environments, and Galloway and Mallaig for Kirsty’s holiday.
Freya is emotionally affected when caring for an accident victim whose toddler was killed in a drunk-driving accident. In Mackay in Queensland the Dunbar family are preparing for a move to Brisbane. Alexander has enrolled for teacher training and continues his flying activities.
Goal 2: Critique a late submission chapter from one of the Writer’s Group members for Friday’s meeting.
Goal 3: Re-read and confirm / adjust comment on novel synopsis by a Writer’s Group member.
Progress: Done. She has done a great job. We all find synopsis writing challenging. Her story is ready for submission to the big wide world of the industry. Good luck.
Goal 4: Attempt to outline one of the intended short stories for competitions.
Progress: Wrote a series of paragraphs, fictionalising incidents relating to two spinster lady neighbours in Bangor County Down many years ago. Somewhere a germ of a story is there, it hasn’t found its way to the light yet.
Days 26-27 (March 18-19)
March 19: Thankfully a cool day with rain and comfortable for thinking. Quick review of the outlines for all six parts of the saga again – apart from some awkwardness with the new structure for the beginning of Part One, I am satisfied with the flow of the storyline right through.
Still avoiding the issues for those early chapters, but conscious of ‘under-the-radar’ work going on – it will come right – just not quite there yet.
Spent time making changes within a late chapter of Part One, where subterranean evil intent is being worked out, that will have a grave impact on Freya’s hopes and plans. It is late 1983. She expects to finish training and have finals result for her nursing course early the following year. Surely her grandmother will be well enough to travel to Australia by then? Another Glasgow winter looms.
Starting to get cold
March 18: Had another non-edit day. Trusty laptop freaked out yesterday for a while and has been flickering. Suddenly realised it might be reaching the end of its useful life. No shame to it – it’s outlasted two PCs. When realisation hit I dashed out to buy a new USB drive and started to backup all my research files as well as older material and other stories, just in case. Current drafts are usually safe as I back them up at least every few days to at least one /more often three locations for safety. Attended to the most important files and folders. Will continue over next days until all are safe. If computer holds out that long. Trying to decide on best replacement to meet competing demands for portability and tired eyes.
Image via Wikipedia
Days 22-23 (March 14 – 15)
March 15: Started out as yesterday on Part One, and met the same concentration block around lunchtime. After food, a short walk, and spending an hour trying to develop outlines for two new short stories, I moved forward to work on Chapter 20. Here, Freya is just home after an exhausting shift at the Royal Infirmary, and exasperated at still being in Scotland when she aches to be in Australia with Alexander. Her mother and sister are visiting. A visit to the Art Gallery which has an important place in the family history is on the cards.
Made lots of changes. Was a bit taken aback at how many changes because I’ve reworked that section more than a few times already. Just confirms the value of being distanced and therefore more objective.
March 14: Continued with changes to Part One early chapters, noting areas for change without working on them. To retrieve concentration I changed tack and worked on critiqueing three chapters for a Writer’s Group member. Excited about how well my colleague’s work has developed. Always surprised how a change of focus energises.
Made for home early, and did a big cook to stock the freezer with meals. Watched The Good Wife on TV, one of the few programs I follow. Am disgusted with what’s on offer in our State election campaign.
Comment: Hoping very much to get past the early chapters of Part One and to move a bit more quickly through later chapters. Very keen to start working on Part Two. The initial goal date has been moved many times. Reworking existing material seems to take much longer than the initial writing which I hadn’t anticipated, and probably should have, as I’ve experienced the phenomenon many times before, when working with large work-based documents (some more than novella length). Don’t know why, but I had this idea that changes to fiction would be easier to manage (no annoying unchangeable facts or legislative clauses to account for). Not so. The implications of change are the same because of the length and complexity of this family saga. Am better prepared now for the rest of the task. Hopefully there will be fewer massive structural changes ahead.
Features in novel several times