Posted by: Natalie | August 17, 2010

Stock Taking

It may be a rather brave statement at the moment, but yesterday I think I put down the final words of my rewrite! Woo! But, it does now involve a rather hefty edit and a couple of weeks (at least) of crying at Steve because I just don’t know how to make it better, and everything’s rubbish and I have wasted my time and I’ll never make it as an author! Because that’s just how dramatic I can be! Creative people are ‘fascinating’! At least, Steve, I am trying to predict this for you in advance.

For now though, I am elated, a little relieved and rather sleepy. Today will be a day off. I am going to finish a wonderful book that fell into my lap yesterday, maybe attempt a couple of articles, and cook. Its I while since I tried anything new so I am going to make the old faithful lamb curry, but try for the first time Saag Aloo and onion bhaji. Happy day.

It dawned on me yesterday that in just two weeks I will be back in the classroom. As much as I am trying not to think about it too much, it has made me reflective. I am a little concerned that I haven’t done everything I intended for my year, so think I just need to take stock and prove myself wrong.

From August 2009 to about December (ish) I worked on two projects. I finished writing and editing the first ever 9-12 fiction I attempted(started about three years before!); a science fiction murder mystery in which the title character, Bradley, uncovered the secrets to his father’s gruesome death (a perfectly cylindrical hole through the head) and came face-to-face with a rather unusual murderer. Hopefully in the future I can return to this project, tighten it up and continue the series – my brain sometimes rattles with bizarre alien adventures that are in some way connected to famous works of fiction. I can but hope.

The second project was a picture book, a pretty poetic tale of a star, lost on earth with no hope of getting home. A menagerie of different, ego centric animals attempt with their own special skills, to return the star to the sky. All of them fail until one unlikely character comes to the rescue! I am most proud of this because I worked exceptionally hard on my own illustrations – they will never cut-the-mustard in the mesmerising world of picture books, but I proved to myself that I can still draw! And cut, and stick and generally pretend that I am on Blue Peter!

Both these projects have been sent to two or three agents with no luck. But, I was not disheartened because my note pads were beginning to be filled with ideas for a story that had been rumbling behind the scenes for a very long time.

The start of 2010 was devoted to finalising the research I had already unwittingly begun and since I have written TWO versions of this Civil War based fiction. By the time I finished the first version, I returned to the beginning to realise just how useless it was – potential, yes, but readability? God no. It had the wrong voice, wishy-washy characters and nothing really redeeming about them. So, I started again. It was pointless just trying to re-edit because there was so much that would be obsolete. I returned to the drawing board, ironed out my story (simplified) took a deep breath and started again. This version has taken longer to write than the first because I have taken a completely different angle to it. And the old version kept creeping into my head and ruining my fun.

But finally, yesterday, I finished this copy. The old one can now just linger in the dusty corners of my mind, to ebb away and be forgotten. I am relatively happy with it. There are still some holes that need a little plugging and one character in particular that needs a swift slap, but it is more or less whole. And luckily, I still love the concept I have developed; a fictional ‘third’ side to the English Civil War that has been hidden in history so that the real cause of the war is never revealed. Set in the North West at the outbreak of the wars, it uses real places, events and people but with a rather more mystical context; evil, treachery, a mad monk and murder make this, for me at least, still an entertaining read. Agents, I am sure, will beg to differ!

So, writing wise I think I have managed a respectable amount of work. I only hope I can reap the benefits of this one day. But, most importantly I have sorted myself out. I am no longer miserable and stressed and tired. I have had the best year of my life; so unbelievably beneficial, I can’t even begin to tell you. This is possibly the happiest I have ever been – for one year I have done more or less exactly what I want, with the loving support of Steve, my family and friends.

I am sure behind my back there are those that think it has been a cop-out, that I was making mountains out of mole-hills and that I don’t have the ability to be an author. And I am sure many of these thinkers will be a little justified. But it was so very necessary – anything that makes you cry on the way to and from, is not worth it. Anything that makes you feel insignificant and weak is wrong. Something that makes you excited to wake up in the morning (to the point that you can’t actually sleep) and helps to find that confidence again, that love for life and sense of ‘self’, is the most wonderful, magical thing.

I thank Steve for giving me the courage to chase after my writing dreams and for reminding me that just because we grow up, doesn’t mean we can’t still fight for the 8 year old still singing inside. Now, just to find me that agent!

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Responses

  1. Lady, I am proud of you on so many levels, but do you know what makes me the most proud?

    “By the time I finished the first version, I returned to the beginning to realise just how useless it was – potential, yes, but readability? God no. It had the wrong voice, wishy-washy characters and nothing really redeeming about them. So, I started again.”

    Do you realise how few people have the honesty and self-awareness to see this? Or, the tenacity to start again? You’re remarkable!

    • You have to remember that I also had a certain amount of time on my side!

      Thank you so much, for everything my dear. You’re not so bad yer self!

      Nxxx

  2. Great post, Natalie. I went back to school yesterday (Scotland). Shattered already!

    I admire your courage – taking the time out for your writing and your work ethic – using the time so productively as well.

    You are so right – life’s too short – to put up with unnecessary s**t.

    Go girl – you have the determination to succeed.

    • Hi Anne,

      Thank you so much for your comment – has put me in such a good mood for the start of my day! Very sweet.

      This year has certainly given me determination, I think I lost my way somewhat but now know what I want. Its a good feeling, I had forgotten what it felt like to want something so much!

      Hope the rest of the week goes well and the kids calm down soon – glasses of wine and as much chill time as possible for you this week! Just maybe not while IN the classroom!

      Take care,

      Natalie x

  3. Sounds to me like you have the right attitude. You keep on going there, missy!


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