It’s been a week and a few days since returning from a trip to visit family in Wales, and in that time I’ve hit the ground running. Not so much in regards to Temporary, in the way I hoped I would, but in other aspects of my life which, as of right now, have unfortunately gotten in the way of the forward progress I wanted in my writing. This is all thanks to some minor changes at that unfortunate necessity known as the ‘Day Job’.
These changes in my Day Job have afforded me a new schedule so that, for the next six weeks at least, I’ll be on a much more rigid, stable, rota – a world away from the sporadic, shifts I previously had (and will be going back to); they always had an odd air to them, as though they were decided less by formulaic, algorithm based logic, and more by throwing darts at a board with dates and times. This new rota has given me a stability I didn’t know I wanted; I’m able to do things in the evening, schedule in BJJ accordingly and socialise due to the ‘normal’ hours I am currently on. These six weeks are going to blast by, and I’m already missing the regularity that this has given me. That being said, there’s been an adjustment period as I now attempt to crank my brain into working order at 6:30AM each morning, with results varying day to day. All of this has led me to a more balanced work/life zen; early mornings are fine when they mean gym/BJJ, dinner and even the ability to go out to see friends or for a meal with Thea if I wanted to – but with the excitement of the routine one thing hasn’t been factored in properly: writing.
But I’m being unfair on myself, especially given how emotionally draining a day can be in this new role. I have made headway with Temporary, as I was able to schedule a call with Hal (the appointed reader for my manuscript. You know, the one who so succinctly deconstructed it within 41 pages) on the Monday night (13th April) after BJJ. I was joking on the mats that I would rather go a few rounds with Raf (my black belt instructor) than call up for this meeting, that’s how nervous I was about the process.
I needn’t have been.
As harsh as some of the feedback seemed, the call itself was a great experience. Having the opportunity to extrapolate upon many of Hal’s points was just what I needed, not only to fully understand where he was coming from, but to allow me the ability to come to the comprehension myself – learning from my own mistakes by not only highlighting them, but by giving me the chance to fall into the rabbit hole, exploring how far certain threads could go.
Calling at 9:30PM, after a great session at BJJ, I expected to be on the phone for maybe about an hour or so. Four hours and fifteen minutes later, exhausted, I got off the phone with my mind spinning. In front of me Evernote had been filled with as many answers as I had questions, written earlier during the course of the day. I came prepared, having read those 41 pages three times (once to soak it in and be hurt, again to highlight key points I agreed or disagreed with, and a third time to add deep notes for discussion), and rereading that report, as difficult as it could be, was well worth putting the time in. My understanding deepened with each subsequent reading, and it put me in good stead for the phone call ahead. All it took was four hours and fifteen minutes to refocus my story, to truly see what wasn’t working and, importantly, why. Why. That’s the key to the understanding. That and appreciating that it was never personal.
I was paying this guy for his time and was afforded a ‘one and done’ telephone call (which I definitely feel I got the most out of), he doesn’t know me from Adam, as I wouldn’t know him, so it was never truly personal. It just felt that way. Once I was able to disassociate that, I was able to critically soak in what he was trying to say.
The call itself was pretty professional; there wasn’t much in the way of niceties, so we jumped right in. I went over each point I wanted to discuss and Hal was patient and helpful with his response, despite his ability to slip off into a slightly repetitive tangent from time to time, though in truth even those were helpful.
My major take aways (there were a lot, but these were THE main points) included the need to reroot the story (as much as an endeavour as that will ultimately be) in third person limited rather than the, unintentional, usage of omniscient. By doing this I should be able to remove the ‘distancing’ issue I’ve created between the characters and the reader. I want to be able to immerse you within Kenny and Gray’s world, and 3PL is definitely the right way to go. If I’m being brutally honest, I wasn’t aware I had slipped away from that, but this is why the reports are as valuable as they are expensive.
Tense was another major issue, almost to the point of embarrassment. I was placated however by being told that these two issues, as serious as they obviously are, also happen to be the most common mistakes within any initial manuscript that lands across his desk. I’m not alone in making these errors; I’m not the first, and I won’t be the last. I can take solace in that.
And so, here I am, on the precipice, intimidated by the sheer workload that this actually means, aware of how long it could take, scared in that ever present question about the future (what happens next, etc), but most importantly: EXCITED.
Excited once more by the prospect of the new. Of the adventure. Of the journey. Huge elements of this book are going to change now; massive themes and scenes are being retooled, rearranged or simply expunged, and I’m hoping that each change will make the book that much better. Better pacing, better development, faster, deeper, conflict between the characters; each adjustments needs to be clearly thought out and well executed.
The new routine has been unexpected, causing a disruption to the writing I was hoping to have already begun, but that’s done now, and the only person that can make these changes, to generate this progress, is me.
I’m on the precipice, armed now with fresh notes and new ideas, unlike before, and I’m truly ready to start rewriting, and rewriting, and rewriting to get this new draft completed. There’s a fun, engaging, dramatic story in here with relatable, recognisable and likeable characters, exploring diverse themes, and now it’s my job to hone this, striking whilst the iron is hot.
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