Wheat or Chaff?

Writers are a funny bunch. Half the time we think we’re chocolate: we have to, to believe we can fill up that big blank page,  that we have something to say, a story to tell that we can tell better than anyone else.  The other half we spend in a state of eye-poking misery, staring at the no-longer blank page full of adverbs and ‘just’ and that character we put in because nothing had happened for a few paragraphs, wondering why we ever thought we could do this.  The inner critic is a necessary beast, of course – but how do we tell whether it’s biting because it should, or just because we’re having a histrionic artiste moment?

If I were a useful sort of person, here is where I would shout TA-DA! and unveil my solution in a Paul Daniels stylee.  Unfortunately, I seem to be sorely lacking in Debbie McGees – because if I knew the answer, I probably wouldn’t be in the process of junking 40,000 words of book that didn’t work.  And before you all go Awww or Oh no! (or even Ha, she deserves such a fate for invoking Paul Daniels) , I’m utterly delighted.  Now I’m going to start writing a new flipped-about slapped-on-the-bum version of the very same idea, and I’m giddy and excited and skipping about at the prospect.  And while the 40,000 words that came before made me grin every now and then, I’m not sure they ever made me skip.

So: from now on, I’m only going to write skippable things, I think. If you see me out and about with both feet firmly on the ground, tell me to take a few days off from the manuscript. That way, I might notice when it’s not working a bit quicker.

The book formerly known around these parts as Project Poppy shall henceforth be known as Project Bluebell.  I hope it will make you skip too. 😀

*

Since I’ve been so hopeless about updating lately, I’ve read lots of things and can’t remember what any of them are. I think this means I didn’t like them very much, so that’s probably ideal. Oh, and I read one fantastic book which made me sob repeatedly on a  train (WHY am I always on a train with the weepifying ones?) but it isn’t out till January, so I will wibble about it then when you can actually get your mitts on it. (Then cry. On a train.)  I am planning the annual bookapalooza known as ‘Going On Holiday’ soon, though, and after happily paddling in kidlit and YA for months I’ll be dipping a toe in the grown-up pool. Planned reading list: The Summer Book, Tove Jansson; One Day by David Nicholls (who for ages I thought was David Mitchell: stop having Ls in your names, people called David); and some Borges short stories. That should keep my tent contented.

Completely unrelated to the above, I’m whizzing my way towards the end of a first draft of Super Sekrit Project #93, aka, um… hang on, it’s so secret I haven’t given it a secret name…er… The Jovial Adventures of Some Herring. (It’s not about herring. Although now I sort of wish it was. Herring herring herring.)  This one is making me skip rather a lot.

Playing tour guide (ie taking lovely visiting people to the Pitt-Rivers and then out for French Onion soup); watching a very wet, very wonderful Midsummer Night’s Dream in my old office, aka the Bodleian Quad; breaking my laptop; getting pathetically overexcited about my impending holiday – Canada, bears, possible airport strikes, oh my!

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15 thoughts on “Wheat or Chaff?

  1. You are not alone with the junking. Meg from Our Tragic Universe deleted so much of her novel that she’s in negative figures. You have to put it on your list, madam, you really do! Good luck with Project Bluebell and I’m hoping there might be some herring on its way cos I like kippers. Also, when we were in Salisbury recently I visited the museum and found a Pitt Rivers section and thought of you! Have fun in Canada, can’t wait to compare holiday stories!

    • Our Tragic Universe is SO on my list – but it’s only out in shiny oversized hardback, and I don’t want to cart it around and knacker it. Will devour on my return though.

      They’ve done up the Pitt-Rivers with a posh new staircase, and shifted things around a bit – but it’s still like a mad cave of random Victorian thievery, thank god.

      Am trying to write a Project Bluebell synopsis right now. Suddenly twitter seems enormously appealing… 😉

  2. lol, yes. Twitter has the same appeal to me when I’m deep in PhD debris. I would lend you my copy of OTU but I can’t let go of it, it’s my precious! First book I ever finished and then turned around and started reading again because I couldn’t let go of it.

    • I felt like that about PopCo: spent weeks mooning around not wanting to read anything else because I still had a toe in that world. Her stuff just wraps you up and won’t let go. At least I’ll have something to look forward to post-holiday!

  3. I’m definitely all for the only-writing-skippable-things thing, Susie. And blubbering on trains (better than using your mobile to say “I’m on the train”, I reckon). I’ve managed a few books on the Liverpool to Preston return so far… you were dead right about Hunger Games!

    • Wonder whose soon-to-be-published book it was that made me blub… 😀

      OOH! Just realised that Mockingjay is out when I’m in Canada! Vancouver airport has bookshops, surely? Glad you enjoyed it: example of something that really earned the hype, I think.

  4. I read the Summer Book and couldn’t quite see what the fuss was about. But then I remember the Moomins as just faintly disturbing, so perhaps it’s just a tune I can’t quite hear. Or something.

    • :O

      I am sad you are Moomin deaf. They are as beloved to me as Pooh et al (though def more surreal), so hopefully I will fare better. After Rachel Ferguson I am of the belief we might like different things. 😀

  5. Oh God! I think I must be a chaff chandler!! Eek! Nothing I write ever makes me skip, unless pages of it when I get bored.

    P’raps I need a holiday to… um, but you are on holiday Sarah …

    Just reread How I live Now and am depressed. Sigh. I think more eye poking is on the menu. 😦 Plus some random agent wants the entire script of the Olympic Games Ghetto dystopian idea …. and I haven’t even started it. Am about to switch to a career in painting by numbers. lol x

    • Pfft – your stuff always makes me skip! And occasionally want to run and hide under the bed, but only in the good way. 😛

      Hurrah for interested agents. And don’t you dare switch careers: kidlit needs you!

  6. Saved One Day to read on hols this year & absolutely loved it. Hope you do too.

    Hurrah for Project Bluebell! Although the thought of junking 40000 words is scary – trashing 2500 words of an assignment was bad enough for me.

  7. No more eye poking peoples! Just ear poking with fabulous words and enticing stories as you can all produce as I have heard them and know this to be true. Har! We will have much ear poking soon. 🙂

    Hmmmmm – I never ever thought I was made out of chocolate. Susie you are surreal and brilliant at the same time!

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