Every morning I get up when it’s still dark and the household is sleeping, light the fire, and dive into the book I’m writing, Future Girl. This is the third time I’ve written it over from scratch.
After my first draft, I gave a copy to Paula to read. At first she was right into it, turning pages madly, enthusiastic. But then I noticed she’d read a few pages and fall asleep. Hmm. She didn’t have to say anything. I knew it needed work.
I thought of some fast-paced books I’ve read, and The Hunger Games jumped out at me. Boy, what a page turner. I couldn’t put it down! I studied it very carefully, trying to work on what was Suzanne Collin’s secret, that meant she wrote such a cracking-paced book. Once I’d gathered some inspiration, I turned back to Future Girl and rewrote.
I gave it to another friend to read. Guess what her first comment was? “What a page turner!” Yesss! So my tricks worked. Very happy about that and I learnt something as a writer too. This draft, with a handful of tweaks, went to my publisher.
They liked it, commented on the page-turning nature too, so that’s good. But it needs work, a lot of work. My plot needs tightening. You can think of it like a poster with too many competing elements in it. It’s a tricky thing, to write a book with multiple layers and threads, that will make you think on several levels, but not lose focus and end up with a rambly mess (which may have been what happened!).
My publishers sent me a link to the Snowflake method of novel design. It’s fabulous. I wish I had seen this years ago! If you are into writing, check it out. So I set about redesigning Future Girl using the techniques outlined here, tweaking them a bit to suit my purposes.
So now I have a super-strong plot (I hope!), outlined and detailed, and here I am, writing it over again. Luckily my previous efforts have not been wasted. I’m able to use and edit plenty of text that I already wrote.
It’s a bit of a slog now, I will confess. Me and the fire and a cup of tea, that’s the good bit. The writing is good too – I enjoy the world I’ve created and, going into it, getting my characters moving. But afterwards, I am so drained, I can’t believe it. When I wrote story after story as a teenager, this didn’t happen. When I write in my journal it doesn’t happen. I think it’s to do with the professional nature of the job. I’m not writing for ME. I’m writing to hit a standard I hope my publishers will approve of, something that will hopefully be appealing to teens, the target market.
Once I close my computer and let the fire go out, I could sleep for hours, I swear. The rest of the day feels a bit like working through heavy water – a lot of resistance. It’d be fine if I didn’t have to do anything else, but there’s food to grow, a child to homeschool, an exhibition to paint for.. eek! With that in mind, I’m looking forward to finishing this draft. All my other jobs will feel easier once it’s done.
And I can’t wait to move on to the artwork phase. The book is to be the art journal of the main character, and I’ve got funding from Australia Council to develop artwork for it. I’ve made a start and am way inspired by my mock ups so far. I don’t find painting nearly as draining as writing so that’s good for the rest of my ife too.
Anyway folks, if you write, tell me, does it suck the guts out of you like this? Or is it just me?
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