A Ramble About Life

Kids and their new go-kart

Kids and their new go-kart

I’m sorry about my recent silence; I’ve been in a strange world where I’m actually enjoying editing. What’s more amazing is that I’m editing Dragon Wraiths. You’d think that finding anything wrong with a book that’s been published for eighteen months would send me into a spiral of despair. Especially finding grammar mistakes and typos, rather than just poorly worded sentences. But surprisingly it hasn’t. I knew there would be some errors, especially as it’s the only book that I haven’t paid someone to edit, relying instead on family and friends.

(That said, my mum found a few glaring typos in Class Act and that was edited, so you can’t catch everything.)

I think I’m enjoying it because I know the book has received great reviews (and awful ones!) so I can read it knowing at least some people like it. But the main reason I’m enjoying it is because I can see how much I’ve learned about writing in the past year or two. I’m not changing the story but I am tightening the prose and it’s surprisingly empowering.

My original intention was to try and cut 35,000 words (30%) from the story so I could enter it in the Chicken House children’s novel competition. So far I’m only cutting 8-10% from each chapter. Unless I find half a dozen chapters that are redundant it isn’t going to happen. But I’ve decided that’s okay. Instead I’m going to try and get the book below 100,000 words and resubmit to agents. Who knows, I might have more success this time.

The nice thing about editing is that it structures my day. Aside from the two hours of school run mayhem in the morning, and the four hours of whining, crying, shouting and chaos from pick up to bed time, my days are calm and focussed. I carry my manuscript round and edit at the school gate and waiting for my coffee. Having a deadline of the end of term really helps keep me working. My only distraction is constantly checking for Class Act reviews!

On the trampoline

On the trampoline

This morning I wrote a response to a post on Helen Yendall’s blog about having too much to do and how much harder it can be to manage your time when you don’t go into an office to work. This was my (edited) response:

This is how my boss used to tell me to do to prioritise work: categorise things into ‘what will get me fired if I don’t do’, ‘what will get me promoted if I do it,’ ‘what do I enjoy?’ and everything else. It’s tough to do that when you’re self-employed, but for me I’ve roughly translated it as, ‘what has an immoveable deadline that will either make or cost guaranteed money’, ‘what will clear the biggest headspace most easily (usually niggly admin),’ ‘what will make me happy and therefore make everything easier’ and everything else.

Of course stuff like school run, cooking, dog walking, kids’ homework have to happen. But non-essential ironing, cleaning, Facebook, even the blog, go by the wayside in peak times. I’ve also found the routine of the school run and walking the dog can help. I constantly feel overwhelmed by stuff, too. Getting diagnosed with depression taught me to take better care of myself for everyone’s sake.

Writing it made me realise that it’s all true. Life has been tough recently, for me and for hubbie, and the routine hell of the school run that tops and tails my day makes me yearn for twelve-hour office shifts and getting paid. But I’m learning not to compare myself to others, or even to who I was before kids, and get on with it. My struggles are mine, no one else’s, and I’m certainly not the only person fighting to survive (as hubbie pointed out this week). Life is what it is and you have to make the most of it. If that means watching Queens tennis or drinking too much Waitrose coffee (it’s free! I come four days a week to work…) then why not?

As Lauren wrote recently on her blog BetweenFearAndLove, feeling guilty that you haven’t got it as hard as others is a useless emotion. I haven’t learnt that lesson yet but I’m working on it.

6 thoughts on “A Ramble About Life

  1. I think it’s all relative, too – what someone might think isn’t too bad, is a struggle for someone else. We only have one life, and you are right, it is pointless (and useless) to worry that we don’t have it as hard as someone else! Oh, and typos – it doesn’t matter how many times I read, and then re-read my work, I always see loads as soon as it goes live, is published, or submitted to an client! Sod’s law!

  2. Oh, Amanda, I never got round to doing a review on Dragon Wraiths. I’m sorry. It’s been crazy with work and weans here. I enjoyed it so much. My only criticism, and it’s not a criticism as such, is that I felt you could have had more than one book out of it. It was like you’d done yourself out of a series of books. I don’t know how you’ll be able to reduce it. I would like to see it expanded. I’ll try to get a my thoughts down on it and post a review. I finished it ages ago as well and wanted more.x

    • Thank you so much for this. Don’t worry, I understand about work and weans (great phrase!) Funny, I did think about making DW three books, but I couldn’t work out where to split the novel in half, and then I couldn’t work out how to write the third. I came up with all the characters of the new wraiths, but couldn’t decide whether to write it from their perspective or stick with Leah. Having just re-read it (cutting the poor sentences and fixing the far-too-many typos) I feel there is far too much crammed into the last few chapters. All the Hidden Ones stuff is just dumped in like I ran out of energy (which is possibly true!) Your comment has reinvigorated me to see if I can make it into three before I submit to agents…. Thank you! 🙂

      • And, by all accounts, from everything I’ve ever read on the subject, you’re actually more likely to get a book deal if they know that their investment isn’t a one-off. Pennies and pounds on advertising and so on. Whereas, you have enough material in that one book to make at least three.
        I’d so do that, Amanda. Cutting it would be shameful somehow. It’s a great story and has cries out to be longer with more detail on the dragon world and the hidden ones. Plus I’d like to see Leah getting it on! 😉 x

      • Haha on Leah getting it on! It is a YA book, I’d have to take advice on that. I agree on the Hidden Ones, reading it again it’s all a bit rushed.

        Apparently the market is moving away from trilogies, but splitting the book when they get back from freeing the phantoms means I don’t have to fix it before the Chicken House comp! Plus it’s almost spot on 80k, hurrah!

      • That’s great!
        I don’t know that much about the YA genre but I read all of the Twilight series after one of my kids had recommended it. I knew what was what with the hidden and not so hidden connotations. Nothing actually ever happened, of course, till they were happily married! but the atmospherics were rich in promise, so to speak.
        How about Leah and yer man tying the knot before the third book because some sort of new strength would emanate from the union? I don’t know, but maybe like wraiths engendered with love power or something. Or a halfling dragon with a full-blood holds the key to new enchantments in the dragon and earthly world? Gawd, I’m shite at this!
        I really hope you go for the series and let me know when. I got that one as a freebie but I’d definitely buy!
        And I still haven’t done the review, goddamnit! Hey, our American cousins are rubbing off on me. I will. I promise. Kick me in case I forget again. The weans/work no longer applies for the next six and a half glorious weeks of summer holidays. Mine, I mean. Stuff theirs! 😉 x

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