Getting back to it….

EditingAfter a break of over a month I am getting back into A Second Strand this week.
I finished the second run through in the first week in January and handed the manuscript (well, the printed sheets in a black ring binder) over to a friend, Darren Mann. Darren having read, and allegedly enjoyed, Her Parents’ Daughter, volunteered to read and comment on the draft of its sequel. This he did in very good time, handing it back to me little more than a week later. Ideally I would then have got on with attacking Draft Three except that at that time my husband, cat and I were in the throes of packing up our home and moving. By the end of the HPD Covermonth we were ensconced in our new home in Dartmouth and I was ready to return to A Second Strand.
But then the day job demanded attention. In the twelve years since I started writing seriously there have been many, many times when I have wished I could be the sort of commercially successful author who could concentrate fully on her books. Or, barring that elusive success, perhaps I could have been ‘financially independent’. But I am neither so I have had to earn a living. To date my books do not earn enough to pay the bar bills let alone allow me to retire to become a ‘full time author’. So for another two weeks the black file remained on my desk unopened.
This week, however, I am going to open the 286-page long Word document and the Excel spreadsheet which details who is doing what, when and where, and I will sort out the issues Darren raised.
For me this, the third edit, is the most important. It is now that back stories are added, where characters’ characters are developed more fully and where anomalies are resolved. I’m looking forward to it.

Firsts and Lasts

In my first book, The Last Dance, Alicia Donaldson says that the last time a person does something is as significant as the first. But I have to argue that the first time you do anything is going to be more important for the simple reason that it is always possible to know when you are doing something for the first time but not necessarilyThe Last Dance Cover possible to recognise a ‘last time’ until it’s already in the past.
Usually a ‘first time’ can be anticipated. You know (admittedly not always exactly) when you are going to start at a new school or job, first exchange of bodily fluids with a new partner, move into your first home, get married, do a book-signing. The first time for all of these is important and is usually no surprise. You can plan for them – and worry.
Perhaps it’s an age thing but I have to admit to worrying about the less important ‘firsts’ to do with moving house for about the thirty-first time.
I put off for days driving up Crowther’s Hill in Dartmouth for the first time; I’ve had to master how and when to put the correct rubbish out for collection by South Hams District Council and tomorrow we must let The Lodger out. The poor cat has been stuck inside for more than two weeks and is getting stir crazy but I cannot help but dread that on that first ‘escape’ he will not find his way home.
Yes, many firsts are significant steps and are recognized as such.
But also, recently, I have done a lot of things for the last time; booking a return ferry from Yarmouth to Lymington, walking into The Wheatsheaf or The Kings Head to find our drinks already on the bar. But I didn’t worry about these things because I had done them before, they were familiar and anyway, were they necessarily the last times? Who can tell?
I know The Last Dance was my first published book but is A Set of Lies my ‘last’ or simply my ‘latest’?
Will A Second Strand (sequel to Her Parents’ Daughter) ever see the light of day?
Will there be others after that? Who can tell what the last will be?
So, Alicia, I have to disagree, first times are always more significant – and more difficult.