No, She Hasn’t Been On A World Cruise!

Four months on, she reappears and is most touched to find her blog has the same number of followers as when she last visited her site! Thanks all, for your loyalty and patience.

Despite the post’s title, this particular lady wouldn’t fancy a world cruise even if she could afford one, but a trip to the Norwegian Fjords to watch the Northern Lights is definitely on her bucket list.

Rather than list the negatives that have stood in the way of regular blogging throughout 2019, she will share with you some good things.

  • She has bestowed much tender loving care on her garden.
  • She has finished the 2nd draft of her 6th novel Twicers, a satire set in the near future, which she began in 2017 during National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), and has entered its opening chapters to a competition. Its rules didn’t insist on the entrants polishing their work to a gleam, let alone completing the first draft. The 2nd draft is now with beta readers, to whom she extends her heartfelt appreciation and thanks. She awaits their feedback/constructive criticism with bated breath.
  • She has discovered the wonderful calming effects of CBD oil, which has stopped her heart palpitations and lifted her mood, and for the first time in 20 years her thyroid levels are normal due to the endocrine boosting effects of the oil, plus a 3-month course of homeopathic Thyroidinum.
  • She has new, super lightweight and comfy eco-glasses and can now see properly, as well as doing her bit for the planet. For those who haven’t come across these specs, the frames consist of 63% plant-based materials and 95% recycled materials, plus every time someone purchases frames, ECO plants a tree — over 1.5 million trees so far.
  • She has joined an all-female small choir and mastered the art of singing alto, having previously always sung soprano. With three concerts under her belt and two more scheduled for this year, she’s feeling on a high. They’re a fab group of girls and the choice of music most eclectic.
  • She has two wonderfully practical men in her household who’ve recently drilled a hole in the wall of her home office upstairs and hardwired her PC to the modem downstairs, which means she can be more efficient with her work and still have quality time with the family, dig the garden, do singing practice, and re-engage with the blogging community.

For those of you who sent such kindly getwells to a certain sweet old chocolate Labrador at the time of her op and convalescence, she has just had her 6-monthly health check at the vets and passed it with flying colours, despite still hosting the mast cell tumour that was meant to have been removed! Thanks to love, prayers, and alternative remedies, she’s in fine fettle: eating and sleeping well, enjoying her walks, playing/winning tug of war, and fully engaging in her role as chief supervisor.

A game of canine peekaboo!

Quote: “I’ve been disappeared”

SarahWriting

Question: Whose favourite expression is “I’ve been disappeared”?

Answer: The main character in my novel, Anna.

Next question: Why am I quoting him (yes, “him” not “her”)?

Answer: Because I have been disappeared, editing onward to THE END.

Of course, this doesn’t mean the work is over. Far from it. This Speculative Fiction novel of mine evolved out of a decision to stop second guessing the market and write something original. I even dared swim against the tide with a non-dystopian version of the future. Yes, the human race is threatened; no, the planet is not trashed beyond repair.

The project began on 1st January, 2013: what better New Year’s Resolution than a creative challenge? You can read a summary of my progress during that year here.

The next step was to throw my novel upon the mercy of three beta readers: themselves published, and one of them a freelance editor. Their verdict … beautiful prose, original, a few plot holes needing mending, too abstruse in places in an effort to avoid exposition, more dialogue tags needed, and greater differentiation required between character voices.

Back to the drawing board for four months, with the occasional cry of “not another thing to do!”. I admit to having felt annoyed with my beta readers at times, but that was because their constructive criticism was about 90% right. Of course, I’m eternally grateful to them for all the work they put into their detailed reports on my manuscript, considering they have such busy lives themselves and did it voluntarily in their spare time. Ultimately, I decided that if all three of them pointed out the same thing, then it needed attention.

It’s unusual for a second draft to end up longer than the first (62K words, grown to 90K), but I went for minimalism initially and then had to build on this. I did edit some things out, just because they didn’t fit with the characters’ voices as they developed. There was a degree of juggling around chapters, putting some back story  into real-time and, where this was impossible, turning back story into proper flashbacks.

This next week, I intend to print out my manuscript and check the plot hangs together after all the changes I’ve made. At the same time, I will do a full proof read as it’s so easy to miss mistakes when checking work on the computer screen.

Just as a closing bit of fun, does anyone remember that tagging game named Lucky Seven Time that did the rounds of WordPress a while back, where you had to post an extract from page 7 or page 77 of your work in progress? Having just looked back at my Lucky Seven post, I thought it would be interesting to compare my page 7 extract from then with a page 7 extract from my present version of the manuscript.

15th February 2013 version

“You’ve gone insane.”

“No, it’s you who’s insane for bringing me fish?”

You scowl up at the sky, as if there’s a cruel memory pinned to the stars. I look up. There are no stars. Only the face of a mother—the last mother on earth to have given birth. Your mother.

“She’s dead,” I remind you.

“She lied to me.”

Current version

“Oh, Anna, I can’t bear it. You’ll have to wear a hat until your hair’s grown back.”

We’re both spurting tears as Ka moves between hugging me close, pushing me away with the flat of her hand, or poking at me with a finger. I wonder whether it’s my bones or hers that will snap first. My arm bleeds, where she’s jabbed me with the scissors whilst wrestling them off me. I think I’ve cut her, too. Our blood and tears are smeared together.

“I love you, Ka, I love you. I really love you.” These words spill from my lips while I’m thinking, I hate you, Ka. I really hate you.