Tuesday 13 March 2018

Setting Sail

Today, I set sail upon a sea of words.

And, like the picture above, it may all go up in smoke.

The start of this year has seen a lot of faffing. March already! Goodness. I thought I'd be so much further along with so many projects.

In a bid to clear my desk, I've given myself a rather punishing schedule this week. I'm thoroughly enjoying ghostwriting a business biography for a client. They've lived an extremely interesting life so it's a pleasure to help put it to paper. 

That's actually going much better than my own work because it's got a lot of structure to it. We did many hours of interviews, so for me it's now a case of reconfiguring what we talked about into neat chapters. I'll spend one day listening to a chunk of the tapes and collating that material into a logical plot progression, then I'll spend the next day padding out those transcribed notes into something that flows. 

The way we narrate stories is rarely a straight chronology. If you listen to anyone talking about things they've done - your grandfather's war stories, your mother's misspent youth - people jump about all over the place. Remembering one thing often causes them to remember something else that is related but happened in another place or time. People often jump to that other thing before coming back to complete what they were talking about in the first place, or drifting off into something else entirely.

For the writer, you need to find all those loose threads and tie them together in neat paragraphs. If someone starts off talking about one thing, jumps to something that happened later in life, then comes back, you need to gather together the beginning and end, and push the middle to the bottom of the page. It's more important for a reader to have the chronology straightened out than for a listener. I think it's down to the ways in which we're used to having information presented to us. We expect to jump around when having a story told to us, whereas we're used to the written narrative following a more considered course.

Anyway, that's coming along nicely at the moment. My client is happy, though wants me to add more humour. We'll fix that in the edit.

My own writing is not progressing in the least. I never recovered from losing those two chapters of Still Life. It irritates me to tears every time I think about it, so I haven't thought about it.

This week I'm fixing that.

I'll never move forward with the novel until I rewrite the missing scenes. So, this week's schedule is:

MONDAY: Ghostwrite one chapter.
TUESDAY: Write one chapter of SL, transcribe notes for next ghost chapter.
WEDNESDAY: Ghostwrite one chapter.
THURSDAY: Write one chapter of SL, transcribe notes for next ghost chapter.
FRIDAY: Ghostwrite one chapter.
SATURDAY: Edit ghostwritten chapters and send to client.
SUNDAY: Drink wine, eat cheese.

It's kind of like knit one, purl one.

By the end of this week I should have three more chapters to send to the client, plus I should have returned to where things were with my own novel and can then continue writing the rest of it.

So, this morning I stare into the gaping space left by my failure to backup, and remind myself never to be so silly again.

Anchors away!

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