Game On

A year ago, I returned from our annual holiday to Tenby, with a completed first draft of my novel “Echo Hall.” Whilst 3/4 of it was complete tripe, it was a relief to know I’d come to the end of a narrative that had possessed me for 7 years. Completing the story gave me a huge boost and by the autumn I was well into my second draft. Work progessed at a fantastic rate in November when I escaped for a writing retreat here. Three days away in a splendidly Gothic house, complete with oak panel walls and Edwardian living room did wonders for my word count and gave me the impetus to write every evening till Christmas. Before I knew it, I was half way through my second draft, and had high hopes of completing it by Easter…

I should have known…after nearly 8 years of writing this novel…I should have bloody known. Life always always gets in the way. And this year has been no exception. A perfect storm of work and personal stuff (which I won’t go into here, it’s not that kind of blog) nearly blew me off the hillside. In January I stopped halfway through a chapter, and try as I might,  whenever I went back to it, I just couldn’t move it on. I’ve been able to write other things – the odd #fridayflash, the start of a screenplay and contribute to a drama project – but every time I’ve returned to my character stuck in a park leafletting boys queuing to join the army, I’ve hit a brick wall.  This section of the novel was always the weakest, the blank bit that I always knew would need filling in and rewriting.  But I didn’t anticipate it being so hard to get my character home to his wife…

It’s been like that for months. Clinging on to mountain shrubs amidst tempestous squalls, thunder clouds and a foggy brain. But a few weeks ago, the  clouds began to clear, the gales to drop, the sky to lighten. The work and personal issues resolved themselves and as they did so, I found myself able to stand up straight, dust myself off and carry on upwards. I had a look at the chapter and found myself drawn to do more than look.  After a bit of procrastination I managed  200 words. I still couldn’t write my way out of the park, but at least I’d moved him an inch further. And as I’ve made my way to and from work, in between sorting out children, cooking and cleaning, some ideas have begun to form. All of a sudden I’m back in the rhythm of the story. In the last two days I’ve written 1,000 words and finally, finally, the chapter has come to an end.

So to capitalise on the recovery of my writing mojo, I’m setting myself a summer challenge. We’re off to Tenby again this week. There’s no way I’m going to complete my second draft in a fortnight, but I might be able to finish Part 3, and even begin Part 4. Which gives me the thought by the end of the summer I might, I just might have got to the end of my second draft. I’ve given myself the deadline of 7th September, when I’m off to the York Festival of Writing where I’ll have the opportunity to attend fascinating workshops and have 1 to 1’s with publishers and agents. And to keep myself motivated I’m going to try and blog about it week by week.

The countdown to completion starts here. Game on.

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