A Writer Never Sleeps!

Novel #2 in Editing Mode: Such a relief to finish my second novel, which is now in the final editing stages. In summary:

write –> edit –> edit again (another full read through) —> ask trusted (brutally honest) friends to proof-read –> final edit –> seek a Literary Agent (more on that soon).  On a funny note:

The other night I could not get to sleep and tossed and turned, mulling over my second full edit. I realized that I had made a minor continuity error and had to get up to fix it. Phew!

It really is encouraging that my brain is actively working on improvements all the time, even when half asleep! Motto?

A writer never sleeps!

PS: This pic is accurate, but the time is wrong – I was up at 2am.

Write Drunk, Edit Sober

This quote by Ernest Hemingway has an element of truth, although I certainly don’t ‘write drunk’. What rings true for me, though, is that you don’t have to be fully ‘with it’ when getting the rough story down. It might be a matter of grabbing a few minutes between meetings or, in my case, while waiting to teach a class. Some of my better writing seems to happen when I am mulling a plot or ‘what’s next’ while trying to sleep. In this case, I have to put the light on, get up and type the inspiration, just in case I forget when I wake up in the morning.Or, I might overhear a conversation while out and about and need to jot a thought down, ready to take back to my computer to bring into the story. For my second novel, I also set aside regular, early morning times to write. And, in the most part, I have kept to this schedule, even if the word output varies. On a good day I will type up about 800-1200 words and, on a bad day, 400-500. But, even the bad days can be good writing!

However, the editing needs time and concentration, plus a critical analysis of words, sentence structure/length, etc. Therefore, Hemingway is right—it is best done while ‘sober’. Incidentally, Hemingway also has a cameo part in my new novel, when two ladies meet an old man on the Croatian coast in a bar in Dubrovnik—the kind of place that Hemingway would, I am sure, have enjoyed!

New Novel now in Editing Phase

My new novel is now ‘finished’ and what a relief after much travel and months of research. I say ‘finished’ metaphorically since this is only the draft manuscript—a rough version with completed plot. Now I am enjoying the task of reviewing the draft, making corrections and adding/deleting to improve the flow, etc. However, it is quite exciting to be so close to the final copy, and I hope to be finished in about a week. After that, I will have a few people read through and feedback comments. I very much value this part of the process before seeking a publisher, simply because fresh eyes can pick up small errors and suggest improvements that I may have missed. How happy am I with the new book? Hmm, time will tell. However, I can say that I am pleased with the plot. It was quite strange this time to figure out the final chapter when only about one third of the book had been written. Now that the plot has caught up, the last chapter only needed a few added details to make it work well. If you are interested in a peek of this new novel, or would like to add your name to an early release, please drop me a note.

3 Wise Men – Revised Thriller Now on Kindle

Today, 3 Wise Men was released in Kindle again! This is a completely revised version, with an extra 3000 words and, hopefully, more drama and tension. Most chapters had improvements and, in my humble opinion, it is a better read.

Don’t miss this chance to enjoy a great thriller, set in exotic locations in southern France and Italy. Of course, please give feedback as it is taken seriously and helps the next book too. For example, my wife and I had someone join us for dinner last night and our guest was reading 3 WISE MEN but thought a word was not the ‘right’ one. After giving it some thought – lots of thought – after they had gone, I made the change and it fitted better. The formatting was finished by today and the new book uploaded (with my friend’s suggestion) less than 24 hours later. Oh, the delights of self-publishing!

Speaking of the next book, how is it going? I’m pleased you asked. Over Christmas and the New Year, excellent progress was made and I hope to finish the draft version in just a few weeks.

Length of Time to Create a Work of Art

How long does it take to paint a remarkable painting? How long does it take to produce a reasonable novel? Well, it took Leonardo da Vinci begins four years to paint the Mona Lisa and 30 layers of paint were applied. Michelangelo began work on his famous Sistine Chapel ceiling in 1508. He worked for four years before completion. To write a novel takes anywhere from a few months to several years. Of course, some artists work very quickly – Picasso finished Guernica in 35 days, which may equate to just ten or twenty chapters for a novelist. In many ways, authors are the poor cousins of painters. Authors have fewer works, their works can’t be ‘seen’ and sold immediately on that basis. Authors will struggle to get their work put into the public arena and few authors can now breakthrough the iron-clad ring of rejection that protects the domain of literary agents and publishers. A recent statistic suggested that one in 10,000 writers will get their work accepted by a traditional publisher. Yet, the passion to write is strong and the desire to tell a story remains one of the most noble arts of all. Churchill encouraged us to “never give up” so we keep going, hopeful that even a small audience will enjoy a story that had to be told.

How is the Discipline of Writing Book #2 Going?

I wasn’t really envious – well, a little! A friend was now writing his 3rd book and I was struggling to make progress on my #2. But, I reassured myself, Rome wasn’t built in a day and, besides, mine was more technical – requiring considerable research. And, I had no research assistant! The funny thing was, although about half-way through novel two, I had the last chapter sorted. Then, smug, smug, I was sure that I had gone well past the middle when a word count (hate that tool) revealed that I had only completed 32,000 words. Dang it! Still, this wake-up shook me into being more disciplined and, I am proud to say, my writing has improved. I am now into a routine of morning writing, followed by a quick evening review. I also determine to try and keep my weekends free – in the same way as I did when teaching.

My best first critic!

I was pleased with myself. Chapter One for my new novel read perfectly; at least I thought so. But I needed an independent critic – someone I trusted to be honest, even brutally honest, and give constructive feedback. Aha! I had the perfect person – my wife! She endured endless revisions of my first thriller and was keen to read my second. I was anticipating a great response to Chapter One. “Did you like it?” I asked. The reply was not what I expected.
“Well,” she replied, “I just could not get into it.”
Shock, horror. “Why not?”
“I dunno. It was just too technical. But, I was tired when I read it, so I will try again.”
There it is! She was tired. I am let off the hook; the chapter is good after all? I waited for her second take.
“No, it just doesn’t gel for me.”
“Damn!” What did I do wrong? I spend hours on this opener and now it has fallen flat. I need to really think hard about this; not rush it; give it another angle.

Hours later – days actually, and I had an idea; an approach that was based on human interaction and left out most of the technical details. “Here is a new Chapter One.”
“O.K.,” she said, “I’ll read it later.”

“What did you think?”
“Much better, and it drew my interest. It also reminded me of an event at one of your schools.”
I was relieved, but learned an important lesson, and thanked my best critic – my wife!

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