On the very good advice of a fellow writer, I have read the text of my novel as if it was a book. Just a book, not an unpublished text, Work in Progress or whatever name we like to put on our glorious literary efforts. No red pen in hand, though I had to resist the temptation to reach for one, many times. This was my first time to print out this novel, too, to have a paper copy. Thank you, Read’s. (It’s now on the northside, yippee!).
I have been pleasantly surprised by my book. (Well, what was I expecting? Touch of Imposter Syndrome there, methinks). The pace moves along nicely, it didn’t drag. There were only two places where I thought the plot logic failed. Near the end, there was a sad moment when I cried. I actually cried. Awww! If I can reduce my readers to tears, it’ll be a success.
We’re a cruel bunch, we writers, aren’t we?
Now for the fun part – where’s that red pen? This is not my first draft – seventh, in fact. Whenever I make significant changes as I’m writing, I save the document as a new draft. It’s my first time using red pen on paper and there is a lot of red ink on the pages already. I’m at Chapter Seven – let’s see how it goes. Oh, and I’ve changed the title. It’s now ‘Artemis, where art Thou?’ This may be just as doomed to die as the former version when it gets to a publisher (‘when’, not ‘if’ – positive thinking) but I’m rolling with it for now.
The key benefit of reading my text like a book is I got a much clearer idea of what my book is actually about, what it is, in essence. It’s more a love story than a crime story, in fact, but love in its widest sense. There is a man/woman romance in it but there is love between sisters, even friendly love between colleagues. Realising this is making it easier for me to develop the story and the characters.
Aside from the book, I spent the May Bank Holiday attending a playwriting course with Fishamble. I thoroughly enjoyed it – and wasn’t the oldest person in the room. Well, there were a couple more people my vintage but we didn’t trade birthdays. The key fact for me, a most reassuring one, was that the essentials for a play are the same as for a novel: who, where, when, what. Clearly, for a play, there is a visual aspect, but when you’re writing the script, it’s words on paper (or a screen, but you know what I mean).
Fun fact: the course was given by Gavin Kostick. His brother, Conor, has mentored me with my novels. Cosy, eh?
As if all that wasn’t enough to keep me busy, I spent six days in Spain. A cousin has a place there and invited me for a break. Yes, the weather was lovely and I spent hours on the beach, under an umbrella, reading a history of Greece. Fascinating stuff.
Less fascinating was the coffee burn I sustained on the flight over. Having waited an hour and a half to buy a drink, the cup slid off the fold-down tray as I was paying and tipped the scalding contents into my lap. All of the contents. Onto my dress and through it onto my tender skin. Reader, I yelled. The staff did the necessary (‘Madam, will you take off your tights so I can apply this gel, please?’) and took my name and number in case of consequences. I have two red patches on my upper leg which were very sore for several days. Lots more gel featured.
I tell you this not to disclose Too Much Information but to send out an alert. Because it’s filter coffee, apparently, the lids on the cups have a mesh portion, which allows the liquid to spill out should the cup decide to slide off the tray. Let’s face it, aeroplanes do move about a lot.
You have been warned. I doubt I’ll have a hot drink on an aeroplane ever again.
Now, where’s that red pen?