Saturday, 26 September 2009

Going Quietly Round the Bend

Thought some of you might like to download a free book “The Career Novelist” by literary agent Donald Maass. Find it here

Haven’t had time this week for much more than a quick browse through, but read a piece that really struck a chord. It is under the subheading “The Dark Side” where he talks about blocks and how he rewrote the opening of a novel over and over and how it was “depressing and destructive”.

I look at the progress of my novel. 30,000 words. It’s been 30,000 words for months. And what am I doing about it? I am rewriting the opening over and over and yes, it is depressing and destructive. What am I going to do about it? I’m not sure.

The other two books, slow and steady progress there.

And I’ve found two disc boxes stuffed with back ups including at least two more novels. Are they corrupted? And if not will I be able to retrieve the data? Who knows? Does it really matter?

We’ve a skip on the drive, a half demolished shed in the garden and there are about a million spiders tramping towards my house carrying all manner of luggage looking for a new place to live – and I haven’t been to the woods for conkers yet – help!

Got a photo of one in the bath the other morning. Not a close up macro shot, but one taken from a distance with maximum zoom. My trusty sidekick removed it for me with the words, “Poor old thing has only got seven legs.”

For the past week I’ve dipped into my draft blogs file and I’ve been working on one, adding bits, removing bits and generally rearranging words.

This morning I thought I should just get on and post it. Then I realised I already had a week ago.

Going quietly round the bend, yes that would be me.


  1. I think I'd be going round the bend if I had to share my house with spiders that size!

  2. Somehow I guessed it wouldn't be a close up shot.

  3. I was happily preparing supper the other night, about to tip the tinned tomatoes into the saucepan and looked down just in time to see a huge spider (just like that one) lurking in said saucepan. Now not many things put me off my food, but that nearly did - and certainly would have if it had ended up floating in the sauce!
    I tipped it down the sink and ran the tap and I did almost feel sorry for it as it clung onto the plug hole with one leg - but not sorry enough to turn off the tap. My husband didn't understand why I didn't just tip it outside, but he didn't see how fast it was trying to escape up the side of the saucepan and from there it would have been up my arm no doubt. I was proud that I'd dealt with it at all.

    As for going quietly mad, Teresa, you are not alone. I spent a good while yesterday rewriting and updating a story to send to a particular mag after it had been returned form elsewhere. I was about to send it off, when I realised that actually it was a different story that had come back. Oh well, if/when the first one is returned, at least I'll be ready.

  4. I heard in a news report during the week that spiders are bigger this year and there are more of them. I just thought I'd share that with you all!

  5. That will be my excuse, Helen!

    I was afraid if I got too close it would leap up and fasten itself round the camera and my face, Alien style, Patsy!

    I think you did really well, Bernadette. I’d have been worried about it running up my arm as well. They don’t half cling when you try to wash them down the plughole don’t they? I’m glad I’m not alone in going round the bend – I’ve done exactly that with a story before too.

    I’d heard that too Elizabeth. Ugh. Just what we need, more and bigger spiders!

    The shed is now down and the spiders in there were huge – not that I got close enough to see any. The biggest one had yellow stripes and there were at least two false widows. There was a frog and eleven tennis balls under there as well.

  6. Good grief, Teresa, That's a big spider! There would be no 'understanding' between me and it if I saw it! I don't mind if they are far away from me but the bath tub? Well that's just too personal!

    I hope your novel progresses well when you get over the 're-writing the beginning' hurdle. I was reading Neil Gaiman's on-line journal last night and he said he just writes his novels all the way through and then goes back to the beginning!

    I don't write novels so couldn't possibly comment on that side of things. But I don't think I could write one all the way through - too much of a control freak/perfectionist!!

    Julie xx

  7. JK Rowling wrote the first chapter of the first harry potter book 22 times. I think that gives us all permission to rewrite anything we want, forever ;)

  8. I think Neil Gaiman's way is the proper way to do it, Julie. They say I'm a control freak too - there may be something in that. Now how can I control my control freakyness?

    Thank you, Lacey!

  9. Thanks for the link, Teresa - a writing book I haven't yet read and I'm really looking forward to it.

    Spiders. Ugh. I've been looking at that photo in horrified fascination. We've had a couple this week that were so big that the giant mug I reserve to trap them under hasn't been big enough. I know they have every right to be alive, but just don't know why they have to be so grotesque. How does something like this evolve and thrive? Surely they'd have a better chance of survival if they were cute (nobody would want to squish them if they looked like kittens). And why do they need eight legs? It just doesn't seem natural.

  10. Just a warning about the conkers. We were doing quite well, hadn't had any really big spiders, but I decided to collect some conkers last weekend and distribute them round the room. Last night, a huge one appeared from under the telly at the end of Strictly Come Dancing. Mind you, it was quite subdued and didn't race about as much as they sometimes do but my beloved still hasn't caught it...

  11. Aw, spiders that looked like kittens! Wouldn't mind them at all, Suzanne.

    Hope yours has been caught, Kath (why do they always seem to hide under the telly?). I still haven't been to the woods for conkers - by the time I get round to it, spider season will be over.

  12. It appeared again at a climactic moment in "Frenzy" (we're working our way through a Hitchcock box set). My husband very neatly got up and placed a (large) container over it before I knew what was happening. Quite a good sense of timing though, that spider.

  13. There are loads of spiders about this year, aren't there? I don't mind them as long as I don't have to touch them (or them touch me...). But I can't stand Daddy-Long-Legs (crane flies, I think they're really called!) - I just can't bear the way they fly around your face - yeuk.
    As for novel-writing ... I'm sure the best way is to keep going to the end and not do any editing till afterwards. I just wish I could make myself stick to it! It's only the first chapter I keep mucking around with. I need someone to slap my wrist!

  14. Great timing indeed, Kath. Glad he's been captured at last.

    There are, Olivia. And Daddy long legs might just as well be winged spiders as far as I'm concerned. And they hide too have you noticed? They know when you're after them.

    It's funny isn't it. The first chapter business. Have you been like that with all your books? I just feel until I get the foundations right I can't start building the rest if you know what I mean (or maybe I'm just prevaricating - I'm good at that!)

  15. You know, I'd never heard this thing about conkers before, but now I've heard it twice in a couple of days - does it really work?

    And thanks for the link to the download, I'll have to remember to come back and do that when I'm back from my hols - don't want to clog up someone else's connection with a hefty download.

  16. I keep hearing about the conkers too, Juliet - I've yet to find any to try it out though.