Freedom From The Mundane - A Writer's Blog

Sunday, August 27, 2006

On your marks, get set...

Last night my best mate Craig took me and Gail out for a meal. We went to Santini's Italian restaurant, which is adjoined to the Sheraton Grand just off Lothian Road. I had a sublime plate of fresh fillet of Atlantic salmon with pesto, green vegetables and potatoes, washed down with a lovely bottle of Chianti.

While in the bar waiting for our table beforehand, we were stood next to Sir David Attenborough, a man who I think is possibly one of the most famous and loved men in Great Britain, and has been for the last 20 years.

He was the voice of nature programmes while I was growing up and his contribution to British television over the years unmatched. It was he who launched BBC2 and was it's controller for several years, before returning to do what he does best - nature.

He looked every bit the kind, gentle man you see on the television and for an 80-year old bloke he is looking excellent. Naturally, I was too scared to interrupt his conversation to tell him how much I admired his brilliance, and so stuck rigidly to completing my vodka and fresh orange instead.

High on the crest of the motivational wave of literature, I spent the afternoon spring-cleaning my office. It's a bloody mess and has been for weeks now, with crap on the carpet, books strewn all over the shelves and my desk a towering clutter off books, papers, pens and pads. It simply needed to be done.

I can work in a "clutter" so long as it is organised, otherwise when it is like this, it just hampers me creatively. So I got to work and it didn't take me too long, though the time wore on when I decided to work through some boxes storing more papers and correspondence.

I set aside half of a shelf for new boxes to organise things in. I now store all my current papers to be taken care of, reference information and published hard copies.

Now I can see my desk, the carpet is clear and my mind sparkling brand new with ideas and motivation. The first thing I wanted to do was a series tasks set by Devon Ellington on The Scruffy Dog Review Blog. I started with the Object Exercise and will also do the Painting, Name, Phrase and Senses exercises too. I'll keep you informed of my progress.

I also have some new short story ideas percolating as a result of clippings I came across while re-organising my office. I've started a new, handier folder called Ideas Folder. Good, eh? The last one was just a paper folder, torn and limp - this time it's a box holder, much stronger and purposeful. I'll talk more about these new stories as I get to them.

Also, I have had an epiphany regarding Hunting Jack. Listening to fellow authors at the Book Festival this past week made me realise something when I came to apply the knowledge they conferred to my own work: Hunting Jack is NOT complete.

In fact, it is nowhere finished. That's why I've had so many problems with the ending and the sequel, and that's why it is never going to get picked up by anyone. It finishes on a low and leaves the reader frustrated and sad - probably angry too. In short, it's a good story, but is a pish read because of the ending.

And so I've been thinking about this. It makes total and utter sense to write more, but this then throws all my attempts at getting signed with an agent back several months. It needs to be completed, however. It simply must be addressed. And I'm not talking about an extra chapter or two here, I'm talking about another 30 or 40,000 words. I'm talking a LOT more work.

And to think I sent it out on submission like that. I've probably blown my bridges with several agents because of it, but then, it's all part of the learning curve I suppose. Another thing I learnt at the festival is that all writers have clangers; things they wished they had or hadn't done in hindsight. This is one for me and I'll just have to get on with it.

The next logical question is, do I actually want to go back and finish Hunting Jack? Is now the right time? I'm on such a creative surge just now I don't want to spoil the flow by editing. Plus, I've spent enough time working on it that I now have a backlog of work. Should I perhaps put this one away and finish it later, in a few years, to go to work on my other projects? Maybe I should bring Jackie into the NOW and complete his background later, just like Rebus is with Rankin, in a new book?

I think puttnig the manuscript away for a while and working on new projects is the way forward. I need to stretch my mind into new and expanding areas. I need to grow while the surge is on.

It's no wonder it took me an age to get to sleep tonight!
Colin 11:50 am


I'd say put it aside and go back to it after you finish something else -- you'll be amazed at what you've learned in the process of writing another book that you can then apply to Hunting Jack.

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