As some of you may be aware from my previous posts, I have been busily working towards my first novel, The Amazing Road Trip Home – England to India with Strangers. The manuscript is complete and I am hoping to publish it in 2021. I have created a dedicated website to keep everyone up to date. Would be great to have my blog community onboard! Please check it out.
Each week I will (try and) share a small segment of something useful I learnt. While this is for my own amusement I hope it resonates with my lovely readers.
I’ve been following the standard model
Today’s what have I learnt post is more a reach out to the blogging community on Editor recommendations. For those who have been following me, you will know that in 2015 I started working on my novel. As of May 2020, and after copious amounts of wonderful, helpful feedback I have taken the book as far as I can. If I follow a standard model for manuscript development, then it looks something like this:
Disclaimer: I am not a published author (yet), nor do I profess to mastering the arts.
I’d like to share some images with you to kick off this post. I took these while riding along some country lanes last week.
“In my world, this is how editing my first novel feels like”
I completed the first draft of my book in 2017, two years after starting it. Then it was time to share it out with my group of readers. There was a group that included friends and family (alpha readers) and the feedback was positive, but there was much work to do. Then I widened the net, some new readers I knew of, some I had said “Hi” to once or twice at the gym, or a contact through a friend (Beta readers). The feedback was great and a real boost, but I can safely say the editing process sometimes felt like an SAS training camp.
Like the images show, just as you are getting near it all seems far again!
Tips on dealing with editing
So the situation is, your lovely group of readers have fed back their comments. In my case, that was comments x 5. It felt like the letter I knew was sitting on the console table but one I didn’t want open. I’d walk past it, but I knew at some point it had to be dealt with. So lets try and open that letter
(P.S. written in the notion that we are NOT in lockdown, and life is back to normal – hectic)
(1) Don’t see it as a chore – I’d say reverse this back to the moment you put pen to paper and decided to write a book. If you see it as a chore, stop right there.
(2) Don’t take the feedback personally – You’ve asked for feedback based on a subjective piece of writing. Remember your reader has shared thoughts on what they have read, not what they know of you personally.
(3) Set a timer to review edits – If you are working during the week, then try and set a timer each day. I set a 30 minute countdown each day for my edits in a working week, and stopped right there.
(4) Book in weekends and stick to it – One of the main reasons, as I see it, why our draft copies can sit in a drawer for long periods is because of the reality of priorities. Simply put, we feel guilty spending time on ourselves. The weekends give you a good opportunity to work through those edits.
Book the time in with family for your edits and stick to it. For me, it means that one weekend my wife will cover the kids sports drop offs and picks up, while I delve deep into editing. This also includes setting times during the day for editing. Sometimes you will need to balance your optimum time for editing vs immediate family requirements. Don’t get frustrated, there are moments when you will just have to get off that chair to complete something around the house. Take a deep breath!
(5) Keep your phone well out of distance – Distraction! Distraction! Distraction! Need I say more? If you have it with you, you will pick it up and this will break your focus. It’s like when you were taking your exams, and you came downstairs for a 15 minute break. You then put the TV on for a quick scan, and 1 hr later you’re hooked on some programme and the books are sitting waiting for you. Find it easy to re-focus?
(6) Visualise the end goal – Tell yourself every day that you will get the editing finished. Each time I start to edit, I visualise my end goal, and that is a finished book sitting on a shelf in a bookshop – or in someone’s bookshelf at home.
If you are in the editing process of your novel, please share your thoughts.
A Tiny Bit Marvellous is a debut novel by Dawn French. Quick background – Dawn French is a writer, comedian, producer and director of many things on screen. My first memory of her was the TV hit series French and Saunders. It was a 30 minute show featuring the comedy duo with some great sketches, both super talented.
I’d never picked up a book by Dawn French so when I saw this title at a charity book stall, I scooped it up along with a few other titles.
The book is centered on 5 characters belonging to the Battle family:
– Mo (the protagonist)
– Dora (Mo’s teenage daughter)
– Oscar (Mo’s teenage son who has assumed the identity of Oscar Wilde)
– The Pater (reference to Mo’s husband throughout the book, as Oscar calls him)
– Pamela (Mo’s mother)
The story is about the ‘Battle’ family dealing with their personal demons and causing havoc to each other in the process. It resonates with today’s issues around dysfunctional families i.e. growing teenagers, mid-life crisis, that missing spark in a relationship. The mother of the family, Mo, is nearing her 50th birthday but feels she is loosing control and direction in her own life. Her daughter Dora is on the cusp of her 18th birthday and hates her mum! Oscar (real name Peter) loves both his parents and Dora but his identity crisis is a real challenge for Mo. And then her husband, a man who loves Mo and his family but floats mysteriously through the other characters. I won’t give too much away on this book.
My review on the book
I instantly liked the style of this book. Each chapter is narrated by a different voice, the voice of the characters. But what the author has done is give that voice it’s own personality. When Mo speaks, you know it’s the voice of a woman who has the world on her shoulders trying to rip free. When Dora speaks, she is that teenage girl fighting against the world and her mum, her language speaks those frustrations. Peter, assuming his new personality brings about his poetic and posh sense of speaking. To tell the truth I liked the style so much that I am adopting it for a second book which I have started outlining this month.
The book provides a good reflection on the challenges of raising a family, however it has connotations of middle-class upbringing. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing but you can guess the narrative would be different.
You can sense the frustrations of the characters without knowing their backstory. But what I liked the most is the portrayal of Pamela, Mo’s mother as a beacon of hope and reason. Too often we forget the pivotal role grandparents can play in our lives, if only we listen.
I say, go pick up this book and have a read.
What do you do if you’ve never driven out of your home town? To begin with you definitely don’t drive 8000 miles across nine countries.
Join the Chhatwal brothers as they venture on this road trip from England to India. With 3 strangers for company, can they survive the challenges of this journey?