On The Book Formerly Known As Strooops

Beloveds,

I will now start this blog properly. I used to have one on my old site, before it all went tits-up, and have copied over a few entries that I saved (anything marked 'The Vault' here is old). But it's time I started to post a 2014 version. At the moment, I can't say how regularly I will do this, but I pray thee, nevertheless, to return on Mondays, as I aim to post something on Sunday evenings. For the moment, some small rantings and info on my third novel, THIS ONE SKY DAY, the book formerly titled The Inevitabilty of Stroops.

I am pursuing agents, editors and all publishing gatekeepers. This may take a while. In the meantime...

This Is What I Think When Someone Asks Me About My Third Novel:

2001: Crippling fear after my second, which has not made me famous or even middle class, in the Age Of Zadie Smith, who in one glittering, mixed-race magnum opus, shows me what a career should look like...

....the fear and self-castigation makes me stop writing novels for two years...

....I get funded research leave, during which I lie in parks writing bad sentences and then free-write somewhere in the region of 470,000 words with no beginning, middle or end at a time because this is the only way I can get anything on the page...

....another year trying to work out what the actual fuck is a story in this madness...

...First Proper Write takes another year - down to 260,000/out to agents and editors: feedback says: brilliant, beautiful, confusing, too long - which I knew...

...First Edit, with wonderful editor Stacey Barney at my side - another year, and I cut it to 160,000 words, which involves not only slashing and burning and re-conceptualising, but re-writing about 45,000 words to fill in the bleeding gaps caused by the surgery AND another 45,000 new words. But at least now I know what it all means...

...Still With Me?...

...Watching People Who Don't Write As Well As Me, Do It...

...Then: Sifting. Which in Leone-Speak means going through the 160,000 words, checking for character consistency, cliché, redundancy, syntax, grammar, fucked-up imagery, self-indulgent metaphor and...anything else that yells 'look at me!' Oh, and checking and re-checking plot arcs...

...Note: this book has EIGHT point of view characters, and I am sifting character by character. Don't tell me shit - I killed off three others and the blood is still on my hands...

...(Watching My Ex-Student Publish Two Novels Before My Third Has Hit)...

...Lead Character Xavier has 78,000 words, Support Character Anise has 58,000 words and the rest of the words divvy up between the other three...

...I have finished sifting ANISE and MAL and am now sifting XAVIER, working at a rate of about 6,000 words per writing session...

...Except THIS IS NOT MATH, so some days I do 3,000, or 9,000 or NINE FUCKING WORDS (I kid you not)....

...Did I Mention I Have A Job?...

...And Friends...

...And A Boyfriend...

...And Family...

...And A JOB, because you have to say that twice, when you TEACH...

...And During The Writing of This Novel have had: one breakup so spectacularly challenging it would make angels weep and several dozen people I love with crises, several surgeries and cats died and other assorted challenges that mean I DON'T WRITE ALL THE TIME...

...not to mention: you try to remember what you felt or intended to do at the start of a job that started EIGHT freaking years ago...

...And two thousand, thousand times, that QUESTION: How is the novel? How Is the Novel? Which sometimes means what it says and sometimes means, 'I love you, keep going' and other times means...Seriously, You're Not Finished That Novel Yet?...

...And Even My Parents are Beginning To Look Dubious...

...Oh, and Did I Mention No-One Pays Me For This?

...And yet...I love it. I love it, I love it, I love it. There is nothing better.

Go on: be a writer.

But I finished it. I did, yes I did, yes I did.

Stats and facts on THIS ONE SKY DAY

1. The first draft was 231,995 words. It is now 160, 660 words.

2. In order to get from first to final draft, I didn't just 'cut' 70 thousand words. I approximate I cut about 100,000 and wrote about 80,000 new words. And no, the math will not add up - the process was too complicated.

3. By contrast, ALL THE BLOOD IS RED (ATBIR) is about 65,000 words and ORANGE LAUGHTER (OL) is about 85,000 words long.

4. It took eight years to write and edit in its current plotting form. ATBIR took 6 months to write and OL two years.

5. While working on this, I have published 21 short stories; one nonfiction book on housing in the UK; edited two anthologies; run a university department; helped set up a publishing house; ended two relationships; taught approximately 801 students; done a TEDx talk and fallen in love. I've also developed Repetitive Strain Injury (I wish that last was a joke, but it's not, and I will write a blog about it, soon...).

6. I think I will be able to get 6 to 8 short stories from the 'outtakes' of the novel.

7. The word 'sky' occurs 59 times in THIS ONE SKY DAY.

9. The word 'pum-pum' occurs 92 times; 'pums' and 'vagina' also occur.

10. The word 'moth' occurs 370 times; but 201 of those are in 'mother'. MOST BIZARRE FACT - the word 'laughed' occurs 100 times. So does the word 'orange'.

Onward!

xL


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