First Draft Blues…

Well… I eventually finished the first draft a couple of weeks ago but am still awaiting the warm glow of satisfaction. That said I went through two pregnancies waiting for the Great State of Blooming to occur and it never did, so possibly I am just not the sort of person who relaxes.

Possibly I am just a miserable git.

Possibly I am a Realist at heart (and if those of you who know me could, at this point, suppress any audible amusement it would be appreciated) and recognise there is still a long way to go with this book.

The manuscript is currently with the Great Osiander and I await his verdict with some anxiety. Firstly he’ll be the only person to have read the entire novel other than me. That in itself is both exciting and nerve-wracking. Exciting because an Objective Professional is going to see the whole and tell me whether it works. Nerve-wracking because an Objective Professional is going to see the whole and tell me whether it works. It’s bound to end in tears… this is clearly a friendship doomed, but hopefully a Better Novel will rise from its ashes.

Inspiration…

On a completely different note, I saw my favourite female singer/songwriter recently – Thea Gilmore (http://www.theagilmore.net/). She was brilliant, as expected. Thea’s lyrics and music have been massively inspirational over the years – she’s incredibly dark at times, which is always going to work for me, and lyric writers are so wonderfully succinct. I have a strong belief that *all* writers can learn from this brevity.

And on yet another musical note… I’m listening, as I write this, to Johnny Cash’s cover of Hurt (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AO9dbmJ_2zU) which is, I think, one of the most powerful songs ever written. The original by Nine Inch Nails (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gjwgYvzQWS4&feature=fvw) is also sublime. I often listen to both back to back – and this, again, provides a valuable lesson for writers in how a shift in voice, style and emphasis can have a powerful impact on any text.

We are glorious manipulators! It’s probably my favourite aspect of writing – the tweaking of structure, pace, words & punctuation for deliberate effect…

… which is why I should now be happier about having a first draft to edit… and I am…

I am.

I think.

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Let’s talk about sex…

Sex scenes, that is. I cannot be the only writer who finds them torturous.

Please tell me I’m not.

I’ve just finished – bar the tweaking – the one and only sex scene in my book. It was a difficult process. I cannot describe body parts. I cannot move, on the page, through the bumps and grinds of the physical act itself. I just cannot write these things.

Fortunately I’m well-acquainted with the glorious twins Obtuseness and Metaphor, whose help I have called upon (in spades!) over the last 36 hours. Thank you, girls, you’ve saved my blushes.

I can’t work out whether the reluctance to write sex scenes is solely down to a fear of the reader’s perception and judgement (she must do it like this!) or whether it’s a general dislike of sexual acts written out as processes – or, perhaps, the combination of both.

But there’s no guarantee Obtuseness and Metaphor get it right either. In fact I think I may have been irrevocably damaged by Ian McEwan’s fantasy-killing Sex in the Library scene in Atonement, wherein he extended a mountaineering metaphor well beyond its natural boundaries and made me cringe and shake my head at the very point I probably should have been hyperventilating.

It. Was. Not. Good.

There is no easy route. And yet we persist. What exactly are we trying to capture? What exactly are we trying to conjure in our readers’ minds? These are the questions I asked myself and, in answering them, my scene revealed itself as one (thankfully) requiring those Glorious Twins – and not a biology lesson or an attempt at textual wank-fodder.

I recently saw a Facebook writer friend post the distinction between erotica and porn. It went something like tickle with a feather, it’s erotica – use the whole chicken, it’s porn (though I have to say much of the erotica I’ve read on Authonomy does seem to cluck).

I reckon we need another definition, for a sex scene in reluctant hands – wherein we allude to the feather and its usage, esp. the areas it may touch, with the help of those Glorious Twins.

I’m not going to do it… I’ve worked Obtuseness and Metaphor enough today. But the best suggestion posted below will win a (virtual) prize… go on, you know you want it.

My work is almost done…

No it’s not. My work has barely started. Final chapters may be almost complete, but weeks… nay, months… of editing lie ahead.

But it feels like I’m nearly finished. And this is a Good Feeling to savour after 18 months spent juggling with a swell of random notes, the tearing out of hair, late, late nights in my chilly shed… and enough cigarettes smoked to create at least a small, book-sized hole in the ozone layer.
And so we come to PR… and this blog – wherein I will attempt to wow with wit and convince any lurking industry professionals of my potential, my sanity, my dedication, and my ability to deliver (and which, I have no doubt, my friends will undo instantly with their inane LEWDO fixations… please, friends, no!)
Back to the shed…