Writing Recap – How To Edit

Why pay an editor when you can get a Luna to do it for you? This is my little Lunabelle helping me with some writing. “Helping” meaning clambering all over the keyboard chasing my hands because it’s much more important for me to be fussing her than writing. And with such big green eyes who can resist? But this is the whole point – editing, I find, requires a solid strength of will to resist distractions and procrastination. So sorry Luna, but you have to wait!Update! I have been quite quiet of late – that’s for various things: new job, work on the other house, trying to finish my Goodreads Challenge for May (see blog post here) and a little bit of writing! I am now very pleased to say that as of  6th June 2017 I have finished my third draft of MFB. This means I’m now about to start editing.

How well is it going, you might ask? Well… I’ve done countless loads of washing, shredded a load of unwanted paper, tidied up my front room a bit, organised the back bedroom, cleaned my sink, disinfected everything in the house, scrubbed my wellies and my Dubarrys, washed the dog and cat bowls, and drunk umpteen cups of tea…

So this is my guide on How To Edit!

  • Get comfortable in your writing nook, with a cup of tea and the most motivating, content-appropriate playlist you can find on Spotify
  • Drink that first cup of tea and enjoy it so much you go make another
  • Struggle to find a suitable playlist and waste time scrolling through Spotify
  • Find that your writing nook attracts an unpleasant draft or has dodgy lighting, and search for another place
  • End up cross-legged on the sofa
  • Forget cup of tea, get up for it
  • Open first chapter of novel on computer
  • Create a document for editing purposes
  • Fancy a snack, end up making dinner
  • Leave pots strewn all over, but decide to start reading chapter one
  • Make a couple of notes on editing diary
  • Wash up, dry pots and put away, repeat for next lot
  • Realise that TV programme is on you wanted to watch – time for a break, no?
  • Try and fail to read and watch at the same time
  • Make another cup of tea
  • Find a pot left on the side that wasn’t washed up and lose mind
  • Finally get comfy on sofa with computer and cup of tea
  • Start to read, make a few valid notes
  • Get distracted on planning a detailed map of the town/world in your book
  • Lose temper at changing minor character’s surname
  • Yawn once, decide it’s bedtime
  • Turn computer off and go to bed
  • Have best idea ever in bed – decide to get up at 5am to start anew with refreshed vigour
  • Wake up at 8 and realise it’s a work day

Procrastination is a vixen I remember well from, I guess, every aspect of my little life. With essay deadlines looming, I could always find something to keep myself entertained. But when it’s something I love and very much want to dedicate my time to, like my writing, I still find I can skive off. Sometimes it is legitimate – still need to eat, right? I’ve been writing this post for about a week now, too.

In all seriousness, I’m trying to follow this process for editing:

  • Split my screen into 2 documents, with the draft on the left and a document for notes on the right;
  • Read through the draft and any edit, thought or issue that comes to mind can be noted down;
  • Finish the read through, and start making the changes to a new version of the document.
  • I will also keep a running log of over-arcing problems or changes that will have effects throughout the narrative.

At the moment I’m here, there and everywhere, often without my laptop (hence why this post has taken so long to write), so I can’t start in earnest until things are back to normal. Then I think I will try to dedicate a chunk of time each day to editing. It’s time to get serious again!

How do you edit? Do you get distracted too – if so, how do you keep on track? Let me know in the comments!

May Goodreads Challenge – The Magus

For May I chose The Magus to read from my remaining books. I’ve read John Fowles before – The French Lieutenant’s Woman is one of my favourite books so I had high hopes about The Magus.

It is a big book – not just in length but in content. The blurb talks about our protagonist, Nicholas Urfe, being held by a master trickster – but make no mistake, the master trickster in residence here is Fowles himself.

It took me a long time to read it – not because it was uninteresting or particularly hard, but because it just is a very big book. That being said, the last 200 pages roared by as the plot kicked it up about four gears.

Nicholas Urfe, as a typical rudderless middle-class graduate of the post-war era, finds himself teaching English in a Greek school for boys on a remote, isolated island. It follows nicely from Romance of the Forest with a travel literature edge. Fowles captures Greece wonderfully – his prose reminded me of holidays to Crete and Lesvos and brought back lovely memories. I also liked the TEFL aspect, especially so as Nicholas had similar feelings of unfulfilment regarding teaching that I had experienced in my short tenure.

The book is best thought of as London and England bracketing either side of the fat Grecian middle section. Nicholas flees a girlfriend, disappointment in his own failings and general disillusionment to an island that then reflects these three things again back at him. The master trickster he meets is a strange patriarch, Conchis, who Fowles paints expertly as a man who shifts in all but shape. There are powerful moments detailing Conchis’s life, in particular the recollection of his days serving on the front in WWI, but in typical Fowles style (a la French Lieutenant’s Woman) the rug is pulled out from under the reader’s feet. As a result, the story is lush, deceptive, and twists and turns at every page.

I enjoyed it, though it was strange, and at times felt a little laboured. (I am in the middle of my own editing so I’m seeing everything bloated and over-egged so I might just be projecting outwards.) As a mystery it was good to figure bits out, though sometimes the cycles of mystery were so dense it was hard to decide what the actual point of it all was. It felt a little too high-brow for me at times: a lot about psychology and psychiatry, which went over my head, and sometimes it was hard to keep track of what was real and what wasn’t (though I guess that was purposeful). Nicholas, our narrator, also did my head in from time to time. He was full of his own self-importance, but then again, all his flaws got called out on. This is a story about how our own selfishness and egocentric behaviour can drastically affect those around us – and Nicholas is forced to confront his own shortcomings. I’m not sure if he will really learn from his mistakes, but over the course of the novel he comes a step closer to comprehending that he is not the only player on the stage.

The ending was wholly ambiguous and I made my own conclusion, based on a Disney-fuelled happily ever after.

It is very much a sort of book that will haunt you, and it also makes you not trust anybody or anything they ever say, which is very helpful in everyday life.

My next book is The Meaning of Night, a contemporary Victorian crime thriller, which Maura is cuddling up to below.