Okay a short muse on the job/life/writing juggle. I read on Sunday about the sudden death of a writer whose work I admired greatly and looked forward to reading most mornings. All those regular thoughts of impermanence and frustration bubbled up again and I looked at that manuscript, still shaggy and forlorn on the kitchen table.
I decided to use the sad news as a spur to stop arseing around and get stuck into the repairs and revisions needed to bring the manuscript up to scratch. It's not like I don't know what to do with it. I have an extensive to do list covering roughly the last two thirds of the manuscript - a scene by scene breakdown - something I've attempted many times, but never quite nailed as well as this one.
My conclusion? Apparently my first drafts are always a shambolic affair and it's not until the second draft that I actually get any idea how I'm going to structure the story. It's a time consuming process for me and one I don't recommend to other writers, by the way. I always say: The next one I'll get right from the outset.
Anyway, I've made a promise to myself, in the spirit of life's brevity, that I will finish a polished version of the manuscript one scene a day until the bloody thing is done and I can, without embarrassment, hand it over to agent, etc.
Given that work full time and have young kids, this is easier said than done, so I've whittled this ambition down into two inescapable realities:
- Early mornings
- No TV
Got that? Good.
Early morning is the only time that doesn't combine face-falling-off tiredness and a quiet house. I'm not a natural early riser, nor am I in any sense a morning person. Look how excited I am about the prospect of getting up with the birds. Yay.
And TV? Well, I figure if I have time to watch telly, I have time to do some work. It's the uni principle: tremendous self-imposed guilt and looming deadlines force your hand.
Combine the above with a more manageable daily goal (the one scene at a time thing) and I've actually struck a process that's not bad so far.