Saturday, 19 January 2013

What was I thinking?

I have an interesting problem at the moment.

As I mentioned last week, I just finished a first draft of my latest novella - volume three in the strange and unexpected adventures of Neville Lansdowne. That's a good thing.

This leaves me in a situation where I now have three WIPs - all at first draft stage. Apart from the (as yet untitled) Neville Lansdowne story, I also have the fantasy (sort of) YA/MG (sort of) novel I finished late last year, which still needs an awful lot of work to be made presentable to the world.

So what do I decide to do? I decide to go right back to my old, old writing, and dig up one of my early attempts at a novel. It's kind of a comic/fantasy/detective story (what good is a novel if you can't mash-up at least three different genres into it?) which I completed a first draft of many, many years ago. I thought, what the heck, chucked it onto the kindle and had a read. And I was quite pleasantly surprised. It's pretty rough and needs heaps of work, but I thought there was something there. I surprised myself a few times. Even made myself laugh. I suppose that's got to be a good thing.

So here's the problem - which one of these WIPs do I get on with first?

The detective story began to intrigue me. I decided to dig up the old notes I had made about it -  being the anal type, as I write I make lots of notes about how things can be tidied up and improved the next time around.  Amazingly, I actually managed to find them buried at the back of the filing cabinet. Then came the hard bit. Reading them.

I'm not the most organised person. I tend to scribble down notes on any scrap of paper I can find. So here I was, trying to decipher my scrawl from well over ten years ago. Did it make sense? - not much. Did it give me lots of ideas on how to progress the story? - not really. I could make out very little about what I was thinking about that story at the time. Is that going to dissuade me? Probably not.

At the moment, this is the story that is most exciting me. Sure, I plan to get back to Neville sooner rather than later, but I'm happy to put him on the back burner for a bit.

I reckon it's going to be fun. 


  1. I think it would be good to leave the new Neville story for as long as possible. I’m excessive in this—I don’t touch a manuscript for years—but a few months would be good. I’ve just been sent a novella by a friend which she’s just about to publish and—I’ll have to check—but I don’t think it’s been two months since she first put pen to paper. A part of me is terrified to read it because I’m scared it’ll be in need of a good edit and possibly even an actual rewrite. Too many new writers these days are skimping on the whole gestation process. The pressure is on to get more books out. To my mind you need to leave a text alone until you can’t remember most of what happens and then, and only then, you can read it like a reader and not the author and you get one shot at that so make it count.

    1. Hi Jim,

      Don't think I could leave it for years - I don't think I'd ever get anything finished.

      But I agree and am constantly amazed at how quickly people release their material to the public.