Thursday, May 7, 2015

This is not my beautiful book.

As The Talking Heads almost said.

I wrote myself into a horrible corner earlier this year and am not sure yet whether I got out of it or not.

Briefly, I left off work on a Monday in February and instead of picking up on the Tuesday, I went to hospital for abdominal surgery, anaesthetic, pain, pain medicine and recovery.

Two weeks later - I know; I'm a big baby - I opened the file again and . . . I literally had no idea who the two people were who were mid-conversation on the page. One was called Cinty and one was called Gibb and they were both strangers to me.

My first attempt at a solution was to close the file and leave the draft for another week. It didn't help.

Then I thought I'd go back to the start - 60K words - and read what I'd written. Refresh my memory. I'd never done this before and, the truth is I couldn't do it this time either. I tried; I read two chapters but it was like running towards a cliff edge. I kept thinking "I'm reading a story that doesn't exist!" and it freaked me out.

So I decided to fake it. Gibb seemed like a policeman and I reckoned Cinty was one of three sisters who lived in the village near the main setting of the story. So I finished the scene on that assumption and then started a new chapter.

I'm pretty sure most of the stuff I wrote in the last 40K is connected to stuff in the first 60, but I won't know for sure until I read it. Probably in about a month. If I'm lucky, I won't even see the join. If not, this first draft will be a total hippogriff and the edit will start with a shovel.






12 comments:

Paul D. Marks said...

When in doubt, Catriona, fake it.

And congratulations on your Anthony nom.

Kristopher said...

I'll be happy to read it and let you know if it all makes sense. LOL.

I'm sure you made it work!

Meredith Cole said...

It's always good to hear that other writers go through the same cycles of self-doubt when faced with a rough draft... We know you'll pull it together! Congrats on your nomination, Catriona.

Robin Spano said...

Wow, that's freaky!

Catriona McPherson said...

Congrats right backatcha, Paul.

Paul D. Marks said...

Thanks, Catriona. See you in Raleigh!

James Ziskin said...

I say put the hippogriff into the story! Then you'll really have something!

Lori Rader-Day said...

I'd read it.

jal said...

Hippogriffs are highly underrated. Surgical anesthesia sticks around for a long time and does some strange things to the mind. You might have stumbled onto a brand new writing process. Congrats on your well deserved Anthony award nomination.

Kathy Reel said...

Even your confusion is entertaining, Catriona. I think you have any number of people, including me, on standby to read your tales to ensure cohesion. However, I doubt that's necessary. I have great faith in your ability to pull anything together, especially your writing.

Congrats on the Anthony nomination!

Susan C Shea said...

One of the many mind twists we can thank pain meds for. If the book turns out to be twisty but delightfully weird, you can thank percoset in the Ack. ! I'm sure it will turn out well. your books always do.

Triss said...

Certainly it will all make sense in a bit. I think faking it is a skill to be nurtured. EL Doctorow did that once starting a new book. Which turned into Ragtime.'Nuff said.

And I love that hippogriff!