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!

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World Book Day

It was World Book Day and if I was dressing up as someone out of literature I think I would have to be the Yorkshire Shepherdess, what with all the farming and such. We were up at the farm feeding up and tidying up and went to pick up a new calf, bringing our total to 7 (including the one with her mother). Only 3 are on milk so that’s not too bad. Where the calves are there is no running water so I have to lug a great drum of hot water about and it’s no easy task. My arms ache, especially when I can’t open the gate because the pin is too stiff for me, I can’t lift said drum over it because I’m too short, so instead I wedge it through the biggest gap in the fence I can find. It’s an ordeal, but looking after calves is my favourite bit so far so I don’t mind.

I think the Yorkshire Shepherdess is a fine person to look up to, and she’s certainly more relevant to World Book Day than the kid my mum saw in a Chelsea kit. The Chelsea Annual? Mmm, I think that’s pushing it a bit. Whenever I’m up at the farm and it’s chucking it down or I’m tired or struggling (read most days), I think to myself what would the Yorkshire Shepherdess do, and I find a reserve of strength (aka desperation) and I get on with it. I’m usually told off later for doing something wrong but I’m sure there are worse things that could happen.

But we all know farming isn’t my big interest. Oh, no. The big thing is the writing thing.

I have 3 weeks to finish my first book in my self-imposed deadline, in time for the How to Get Published conference at the York Literature Festival. I have about 12-15 chapters left to write, depending on how fast I can write/how ruthless I can be. Considering I’ve just written Chapter Twenty-Seven, which in my previous draft corresponded to Chapter Forty-Five, I don’t think I’ve done too bad in my cutting frenzy. It’s hard to fit writing in alongside everything else there is to do: the farm, feed calves, keep the house clean, do washing, rush about getting clothes in when it rains, cook tea, endless reams of washing up, panic about money and how I’m going to pay bills. I’m also going to be starting to work again come April, and before that there’s lambing to worry about. I stuck to my 500 words a day goal, but I think I might have to up it to at least 1500 a day, just so I can get some text down.

Part of developing as a writer is of course being a reader. I love reading – always have done, always will do. I studied Literature at uni at undergraduate and postgrad levels, have filled three houses up with books. As an only child, reading was a way to occupy myself when there was nobody about to play with (until I got a Gameboy, and then catching Pokemon was so much more exciting, but even then, I think I enjoyed reading the strategy guide more than playing the actual game). Reading seemed to naturally lead to writing. When I didn’t have my own stories and characters in my head, I rewrote existing stories, an exercise that helped me in turn appreciate story arcs, purpose and intent.

Being currently a frugal writer on a strict budget, there’s no space for book buying. Saying that, I did go to the second hand bookshop in Pickering a few weeks ago and buy two of Terry Brooks’s Shannara books (can anyone tell me if Book 1 is essential, as I’ve heard it’s vastly different to the subsequent two?). As part of my Goodreads Challenge I’m trying to read books I already have. In my early twenties, while most girls frittered their money away on posh makeup and going out dresses and holidays here, there and everywhere, little old me spent hers on books, music and car insurance. Hence why I can fill three houses with books and CDs and part a car at each house. Not that Millie the Puma can move at the moment.

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I know some people see reading as a waste of time, but the same could be said for watching TV, movies, sitting on Facebook. I use reading in a similar way that I write: for a moment, an evening, half an hour in the bath, I can completely forget my own silly little life and petty problems, and immerse myself in other peoples’ lives. Stories touch us in different ways and there are some books that I feel have changed my life, or my viewpoint, or have opened my eyes – The Golden Notebook by Doris Lessing, If This is a Man by Primo Levi, A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki, plus countless others. I’ve read His Dark Materials at so many different points in my life and each time it speaks to me in a different way, a huge accomplishment for what is often simply categorised as a children’s book.

Also, so excited about Philip Pullman’s next series about Lyra!

When I have a child, alongside that child running around outside, playing and learning, understanding the importance of time, and money, and kindness, and gratitude, I will spend time reading with them. I have my mother’s set of Narnia books that she had as a girl and those will go to this as yet imaginary child. And of course if writing is to be (as I hope) my occupation, I’d like my child to understand the worth of that, and the importance of imagination, even if they have no desire to write (which is OK too).

So books are important, yay? I have big plans to make a study/library in Grandad’s house, and that will be my writing cave, where behind closed doors, the magic will (hopefully) happen.

Katy

My Goodreads Challenge – February Review, Burial Rites

So February has been and went and true to my goals, I finished my book for the second month of the year, and this time it was Hannah Kent’s Burial Rites. I’ve had this book on my bookshelf for a good long time and never picked it up so I thought now was as good time as ever. I must admit I think my enjoyment of it was certainly marred by the fact I started reading Ruth Ozeki’s A Tale for the Time Being and was utterly wrapped up in that.

Burial Rites is one of those books that was nominated for awards and was on everyone’s TBR list. There was a lot of hype and if everybody didn’t have a copy in their bag, they knew somebody who did. The story sounded compelling, and it fit into a perfect period of time: Nordic/Scandi thrillers, female-led murder mysteries. If it had been called The Girl in Iceland it might have sold even more.

Kent is only a young writer – one of these that have done Creative Writing XYZ and I’m not bitter at all (I half-wanted to do Creative Writing but everybody I spoke to about it scared me away from it with pitchforks and burning torches so there you go). The story is indeed compelling, about the consequences of a murder that has already happened in 19th century Iceland, of all places. Like Colman’s The Rule, a young writer from my neck of the woods, the barren, cold setting is winningly created with effective, sparse prose. I didn’t like the font the book was published in, which is ridiculous I know but when that’s what you’re staring at, it can really bug you if the story doesn’t drag you in and overpower you completely.

And this didn’t. I found it hard to get into for the first half of the book. There were a lot of viewpoints to follow, and the wet assistant reverend wasn’t my favourite of characters to follow, especially when he missed a lot of the action. Agnes, the central character and the only one with a first person POV, was the most interesting, but even when she told us the truth of the murder for which she was convicted and awaiting the death penalty, I didn’t feel gripped by her story. Based on true events, the narrative was haunted by unchangeability, and that was purposeful of course, but it felt like hopes were being raised every so often, all for nothing.

Kent is a good writer, but I felt the two daughters of the family Agnes stayed with were underdeveloped, bit players in the calm before the storm. Their mother was the strongest character, plagued by a cough, and I was happy she didn’t die in the end. As a newbie to farming, it was comforting to read familiar events and tasks in a cold, unforgiving environment. I think our technology on the farm isn’t much more advanced than theirs!

I haven’t picked my March book yet but it will be something short as I’m a little pressed for time. I’m trying to finish my own book before the end of the month plus we have a lot going on at the farm. I also started re-reading Robin Hobb’s Fool’s Assassin (Book 1 of Fitz and the Fool) after I finished Burial Rites, ready to start on Book 2 soon. Robin Hobb is one of my favourite writers, not just fantasy but overall. I’ve read lots of her trilogies and series, but I think Fool’s Assassin has been the hardest to get into. Fitz as a narrator is always compelling and sucks you into both his world and his thoughts, however in this book not a great deal happens over the first half. A plot point is introduced in chapter 1 and not picked up again, and instead we spend a lot of time with Fitz and Molly, and later Bee, in their home life. If I remember rightly, action picks up again, and I’m excited to see where that leads.

Writing Goals for 2017

A couple of days ago I did something quite major for me, and booked myself a place at the How To Get Published conference, part of the York Literature Festival. I think all the ladies in my Writing Group will be attending, so it should be a good day. It’s a full day packed full of talks and discussions, not to mention a panel of writers and literary agents (!) I’m hoping it will be really helpful.

I’ve always written but never had the confidence to go to anything like this before. Last year I went to a free talk as part of York’s Festival of Ideas (and I wrote about it here) and that was all about the benefits of a Writing Group, which is how I found my group. After attending the sessions I’ve got a bit more confidence about myself, so I bit the bullet and booked myself on the conference.

The conference is at the end of March which gives me just over 2 months to get my act together and *finish* the third draft of #MFB. It also coincides with a new time in my calendar, that of lambing. Now granted we don’t know when this will start or how long it will go on for, but as far as I know the world stops for lambing time. So my idea is to get this third draft bossed by then, so I can a) have lambing time to distance myself from it and approach it afterwards with new eyes, and b) have something in a form like finished to talk to agents about.

So that’s one goal for 2017. But I have some others, and I figured if I wrote them here and stuck them on the internet I might actually have to honour them, as opposed to having them in my brain and thus easy to forget.

  • Writing Goals for 2017
  • Finish draft three of #MFB
  • Draw maps for locations in #MFB
  • Set up a Facebook page to directly link my writing progress with my social media
  • Work on my blog, including updating the images and dividing it into ‘writing’ and ‘blog’
  • Increase my activity on social media
  • Attend more writing and literature events (online and in person)
  • Enter some competitions
  • Look at #MSB and decide on how old my protagonist is going to be

I think that’s enough to keep me going for the year! Who knows – things might change. I’m really excited about the conference but it’s a long way off yet and I have lots to be doing before then.

Do you have any writing goals this year? Maybe you’re going to the conference too! Let me know!

Katy

MFB – How I find time to write

Writing a book is a huge investment in time and energy, and sometimes it’s hard to find time to dedicate to the chief principle behind it all: that is, to write.

I’m embarking on a quest to finish my first book, in at least what I deem to be a standard of completion to offer up to agencies. See my previous blog post for history on MFB, here: https://katylallanby.wordpress.com/2016/07/22/mfb/

How I find time to write

At the moment, I’m juggling this above quest with this (somewhat neglected) blog, running my own little household, including keeping an eye on two naughty pusscats and all the scrapes they get into, and of course full-time work. You might remember, if you’re a seasoned follower of this blog (and I like to think there maybe are one or two!), that before Christmas last year I was working in Hull, working long days and coupling those with a long drive there and back. Well I work on the outskirts of York now, so the drive is much improved, and my working day is a little more flexible, so some days I can be sat at home with a brew at 4.45pm, instead of not getting back till nearly 7! Saying that, I still managed to charge through a big chunk of the first draft, so making time may be a problem, but if you’re determined, you’ll get it done. Continue reading “MFB – How I find time to write”

Happy Paper Club – a mystery parcel

So, as you may (or may not) know, it was my birthday a couple of weeks ago. I got lots of lovely things and did a wee little post about them here #MyStyleWednesday – Summer baby

The other day I came home to a mysterious box posted through my letterbox! I was very confused as I was pretty sure (though naturally not 100% confident) I hadn’t ordered anything, and it all looked very professional and proper. I was meant to be racing out that night so I quickly made short work of the protective tape fastening all up, and was very surprised to find a tissue wrapped box of goodies, from my best friend Amy (who coincidentally also has a blog too, and I’d love it if you gave her a little nosy! She can be found here: In bed with Amy). Amy is big on subscription parcels, and knowing me to be the stationery nerd that I am, she knocked the ball out of the park with getting me a Happy Paper Club subscription! Continue reading “Happy Paper Club – a mystery parcel”

MFB

You might have seen “MFB” dotted around my posts, elusively made reference to and never explained.

My first book!

This is something I’ve been writing since I was 18, and is by no means the first book I started. I have another novel in my head that I started dreaming of when I was 13/14, and another when I was about 15. Those are in great states of infancy, but MFB is in a much better position for possible publication. Screamy face. Some elements have been borrowed or adapted from another little short story I started when I was 12 – nothing is ever thrown away, it is merely repossessed!

I’ve been writing MFB on and off since I was 18; it was massively influenced by my time at the University of York. Consequently after graduation it fell to the wayside as I was focusing on work and sorting out a life that’s never really got all that much more sorted. I picked it up, playing with it a little more, and put it down again. Other parts expanded, were added, were moved around, and it got to the point where it was a big ole mess and there was no rhyme nor reason, but I knew there was a beating heart in there somewhere. So in September 2015 I decided to sort myself out and go for it. Other things had got in the way: jobs, boyfriends, Masters, PGCEs, summer schools. Not any longer! I was determined, and so determination became. I got a new house, a new job, and a new sense of vitality. Continue reading “MFB”

Celebrating 26 years of my little life

Can you believe I’ll be 26 this weekend? I can’t! It feels like two minutes ago I turned 25. I still feel like I’m a wee little teenager, and judging by the amount of times I get ID’d, I must look it, too! I don’t know whether to be insulted or overjoyed when the cashiers in Morrisons question as to whether I am old enough to purchase a bottle of rose. It seems to be happening less and less, though, which is a little worrying. Either that, or they know me as a regular – still, the worry remains. Continue reading “Celebrating 26 years of my little life”

Casa Katy (the First)

Dreamy Mantlepiece shot

Around the middle of last year, Natwest bank were running a radio advert about mortgages and their mortgage rates. For a long time I had been in that same boat as many of my peers: yearning for a little place to call my own, but believing that as a single person in a time of supposed sky-high housing prices, there was zero chance of me ever getting approved for a mortgage let alone find somewhere I could afford. But times seemed to be changing, and the airwaves were abuzz with competitive mortgage deals, especially those aimed at first-time buyers. I played around with the Natwest mortgage checker, was pleasantly surprised, and so went off to the bank with my mummy and daddy to try and woo the nice bank lady into lending me a big ole pile of cash.

It wasn’t quite like that, but the process was much easier than I had anticipated, and so I spent hours trawling Rightmove and Zoopla, weaning myself away from the gorgeous detached mansions and five-bedroom cottages that were on another planet. I viewed six whole houses, and it was the sixth one that would become Casa Katy before the year was out.

I had a wishlist for my dream first home, but ultimately, any home I think will be a compromise, and I got the main things I wanted, which were essentially, walls and floors and ceilings and a garden. I also managed to swindle lots of exciting outbuildings, which in the past soggy months haven’t been much other than empty husks which I tend to eye wistfully, with poised intent.

One of my favourite things, however, is my little snug.

Photo 22-06-2016 21 24 47I wanted space for an “office” and this hollow underneath the stairs is perfect! The family I bought my house from had kept a piano under it; not being a musical sort of person (I like to listen to music but don’t have the perseverance to learn to play it), I had a better idea for mine. So here I have my desk and my little writing den, and a rainbow of coloured pens and various diaries, address books and assorted notepads. It’s an ideal little study on the side of my kitchen and hopefully is the place where I get some scribbling done.

As you can see I have a couple of pictures of me doing laps of the Nurburgring in Dickie the Little Blue Subaru, and I also have a couple of little cheerleaders, which you can’t see very well in the picture, in the form of Commodore Norrington from Pirates of the Caribbean plus his menagerie of eraser animals. Once a geek!

I’ve been in my house now for over 6 months and just trying to get things sorted. My kitchen is still a tip but I’m trying to take the time to figure out where the optimal places to put things are. I could never be one of those people who decorates their whole home before they’ve even lived in it! If I get Miss Paint and Decorate over to wallpaper, that wallpaper is going to be up on my walls for a good long while!

That’s it for Casa Katy the First. Stay tuned for further instalments of this thrilling saga!