Holding Chicks and Fighting Coughs: 2013 365 Challenge #47

The Winning Picture

The Winning Picture

I’m writing against the clock for today’s post. I normally draft the night before but last night, by the time the kids were finally in bed, I just about had the energy to crawl onto the sofa and not move until bedtime. Just as well, as I had a small child trying to elbow me out of bed for most of the night. I’ve had enough of ill to last a whole year!

It was a good day yesterday, just very tiring. We went to the Farm with a family who don’t go very often so were there for nearly five hours. The kids got to hold week-old chicks and have a go on the new didicars (which look fab – husband and I must have a go when it isn’t half term! Must teach the kids to propel them by wiggling…). Then home for quiet time and tea before our usual Friday night visit to my parents. Hubbie took the kids out to walk the dog so I could clean the house and little man cried all the way round after falling in a muddy puddle. It’s tough being two.

Adult Category Winning Photograph

Adult Category Winning Photograph

On a happy note two of my photographs won in the Farm’s Winter Photography competition, meaning we get a free annual pass (very helpful in this time of too much unemployment in our house!) We might have won due to the lack of entrants (most of the photos were either mine or my daughter’s) but a win is a win! I wouldn’t have selected the image they did as the best (it hurt me not to be able to digitally manipulate it as I do all my images – I love adobe photoshop) but apparently they chose it because of the depth of the puddle Aaron is standing in! I love that my picture of Humby Keith the Lincoln Longwool Ram was also a winner. He’s my favourite animal at the Farm just now.

The weirdest part of yesterday was my friend telling me her Mother has to have a biopsy, after writing yesterday’s post about Claire’s sister. It always freaks me out a bit when life mirrors art even in an unrelated way. It reminds me also of the responsibility to write sensitively about tough topics and make sure I do my research and get it as right as possible.

________________________________________________________________________________________

Claire gazed out over the water and let her thoughts drift away with the wake flowing behind the launch. She had intended to leave Bowness after her coffee but her sister’s phone call had driven all rational thought from her mind.

Besides, they have a Costa and I didn’t see it before I had that awful latte in the other place. I’m not leaving town until I’ve had a decent coffee.

Claire smiled at the irrelevancy. Coffee has never featured so heavily in my life as it has on this ridiculous journey. It seemed to represent some notion of urban civilisation that was essential to her being. The boat trip was a way to kill an hour or two before she could have more caffeine.

Turning her face into the wind Claire let the icy breeze drive out more important thoughts. She hoped the lap of the water would drown out the words echoing around her head but it only muted them and muddled them together.

“If it didn’t work for you, who does it work for?” … “You and Michael, you clicked. He adored you.” … “Where’s the hope? Where’s the hope? Where’s the hope?”

Was her sister right? Had she pushed away a man who adored her? Was a life without him a life without hope? Did her sister really envy her existence that much?

Wasn’t that what I wanted her to do?

The words, sharp and metallic, tore through the peace of the lake. Claire no longer saw muted shades of green and brown, glints of faint sunlight on the water, space and calm and beauty. No longer heard the lonely cry of the birds or the splash of the lake against the boat’s hull. Instead she saw the tones and hues of her pristine apartment. The sharp angles of her office. Heard the click-clack of her heels and the tip-tap of her keyboard. Her perfect world. What was there not to covet?

Claire inhaled, filling her lungs with unpolluted air. Her brain felt foggy and full, like a hangover of the worst proportions. Wrenching her gaze away from a view that only seemed to drag her into a well of introspection, Claire looked around the boat at the other passengers. She had assumed it would be empty at this time of year but the seats were crammed with huddling people, snuggling together against the icy wind. A quick survey confirmed something Claire didn’t want to acknowledge.

The people came in two by two, hurrah hurrah.

With a sigh Claire turned her face back to the Lake and waited for the boat trip to end.

***

The Long Silence Explained

SylvesterIt occurred to me after I posted my essay on guilt yesterday that I forgot entirely to explain the long silence, despite putting that in my title. Making it a separate post possibly gives it too much weight, as if anything more than normal life has been going on in the last four weeks. It hasn’t. That said, there has been a convergence of events since the beginning of November, creating something like a maelstrom in my life. Some I’ve mentioned already – my husband being made redundant for example – but others happened amidst the whirlwind of NaNoWriMo and beyond.

NaNoWriMo in itself was a struggle this year. I learned a lot about myself as a writer and about the life of a Writer (with the capital letter firmly in place.) I didn’t start NaNo until several days into November because my brain was frozen after weeks of editing. Ideas don’t exactly spill out from my tired mind on the best of days but I had truly exhausted my imagination writing and editing Dragon Wraiths in nine months (ready for the Mslexia competition – more on that later). So in the end I opted to write up a story idea I had for NaNo back in 2010 (abandoned for something easier due to having a tiny baby to care for).

The idea excited me because it combined my favourite things – love stories and Georgette Heyer. The basic concept is a girl auditions to be an extra in a Georgette Heyer movie (based on the book Sylvester) but ends up being cast as the lead role despite having no acting experience. Various plots and dramas ensue and it ends with a love story.

But oh the writing was hard. I know next to nothing about making movies – not something that would normally daunt me, that’s what Google is for. But researching during NaNo is difficult as it breaks the flow. Then I realised I had no story arc, only character arcs, so I was writing into the dark. Again not something that normally bothers me, but this time (whether due to sleep deprivation, mental depletion or just a rubbish story idea) I drove into the dark to find only more dark.

nano_12_winner_detailI managed to limp over the 50k mark with two hours to go, but it was the greatest struggle and I was happy to abandon my half-written novel for Christmas Shopping on 1st December. Will I pick it up again? Hopefully one day. I began to understand my characters and get interested in the intrigue, but it is a draft that requires a complete rewrite so it’s likely to languish for a while. What did I learn? That maybe I’m not a Pantser writer after all. Perhaps, now and then, I need a better idea of where my story is going, other than that it will end with a happy ever after. I learned, too, about sitting down and just getting the words out. I had a week of no writing towards the end, leaving myself a 20k target for the last couple of days. I know I can write that much, but only when the ideas are flowing. This time I dragged myself along, like someone finishing a marathon long after the wall has been hit. And it was good. Good to know that I can write even when the ideas aren’t flowing, when the sleeping isn’t coming, and when I’m praying every day for my last novel to fly. Maybe I could make a career out of writing if I ever find an agent.

The cover I mocked-up for Dragon Wraiths to print a copy via Lulu

That brings me on to another event – Mslexia. My novel didn’t get shortlisted for the Children’s Novel competition but I did receive a very encouraging (group) response to suggest why. I was told that there were many strong novels written in the first person (like mine), many covering contemporary issues such as climate change (like mine), many with strong individual voices (hopefully like mine) and where there were two books covering the same topics only one was shortlisted. So maybe mine was just nearly good enough, rather than way off mark. Either way I believe in it, which is a first, and happily started sending query letters to agents the next day. The month before Christmas is probably not the time to be querying but I shall start again in the new year after reading through my newly acquired Writers’ and Artists’ Yearbook.

artintheheartThe other things that have been happening are that I have had some paintings accepted into the gallery Art in the Heart, despite my view that they would think them insufficiently arty (see earlier post). It was fun getting all my paintings out of the loft and choosing four to be displayed in January, alongside my miniatures and cards. It was nervewracking too, trying to narrow twenty paintings down to four, and writing an Artist’s Statement that was both interesting and honest. I still have much to do – getting new business cards and flyers and promoting the gallery through social media, as indicated in my contract, – but it was great to temper the disappointment of the Mslexia competition with a success.

www.amanda-martin.co.uk

I might have to expand my website – Author/Artist/Photographer/Mummy isn’t covering it all any more!

Finally I had a job interview last week for a Marketing Manager (although really a Marketing Director) role. I had to pull together a presentation with a day’s notice, and despite tears and tantrums (mine and the kids) I managed it. I was rather relieved not to get the job as it turned out I would be managing 8 staff – I find it hard enough managing two pre-schoolers – but it was wonderful to put my heels on again and remind myself that I used to be good once. It’s funny how, in this slash-slash generation, you can forget the lives you lived before. Funny, too, that Artist and Marketing Manager should both come back as Writer and Mummy were under pressure.

PublishingLogo2cmSo, where next? I have decided I need to try harder to start my own business, to use those brain cells that have been long dormant. I rather-jokingly came up with 3AD Publishing when I prepared Pictures of Love for self-publishing, so that I would have a publisher’s logo on the spine.

My husband has started 3AD Solutions to promote some of his Product Management ideas. I think it might be time to combine forces.

The cover I designed for my sister's book

The cover I designed for my sister’s book

I have enjoyed preparing texts to self-publish (I did one for my sister and her husband for Christmas, as well as several of my own) and I loved designing the front covers. There must be a market out there for those services!

Whatever happens, Writer/Mummy will continue, even if she morphs into Artist/Writer/Photographer/Mummy/Marketer/Designer/Editor.

Phew.

Bring on 2013!

Always get a second opinion

I love a printed manuscript: it LOOKS like 7 months’ work

This week my Young Adult novel, Dragon Wraiths, got long-listed for the Mslexia Children’s Novel Competition. I would like to say I was thrilled when I received the email, but I’d be lying. It came only hours after I had typed up the last second-draft-edit amends and vowed to put the darn novel in the bin/cupboard/big pit in the garden because, seven months after starting it, I still had no idea what it was about.

Instead my overwhelming emotion was fear. How could I send my manuscript off, all 112,500 words of it, with my name on the front (though thankfully the competition is judged anonymously) when I KNEW it was a pile of crap? But I had come so far, invested 7 months of my life, not to say thousands of pounds of nursery fees, plus the competition entry fee. I wasn’t giving up.

So I called in the troops. Sent the novel to my mother and pleaded with her to read it and tell me the most awful plot-hole-disaster bits so I could focus on fixing them before sending the manuscript off a week later.

That was Thursday night. On Friday, when I took the kids over to see her as usual she had to tear herself away from reading the book. My book. Friday night she sent a copy over to my step-dad’s iPad and Saturday morning (early) I got a text to say he was so engrossed she couldn’t get a word out of him. That of course spurred my husband to start reading it again, the edited version this time. I have learned an important lesson about waiting to give out the edited version because he soon couldn’t put it down. (He sat in the car while I took the kids to an indoor play centre on Sunday on the excuse that he had a cold and it was too hot and noisy, when really he wanted to keep reading.)

By Sunday night everyone had finished it.

My step-dad (who isn’t an avid reader, but loved the Twilight series) said “Book 2 Please”.

“What about the plot holes?” I asked, perplexed.

“Well, apart from saying she’s never been camping in part 2 when part 1 pretty much opens with her camping on a hillside, we didn’t find any plot holes.”

“What about the ending? Doesn’t it all feel a bit forced?” It took weeks of agonizing to try to make sense of it all, with me cursing my Pantser habits all the while.

“Ending was great, it all made sense.”

I sat and stared, open mouthed.

So instead of spending this week desperately re-writing huge chunks of my novel I have been calmly tweaking the one or two weak scenes my husband highlighted. Today I printed out all 462 pages and posted it.

Dear manuscript, all my blessings go with you

Leaving me free to start NaNoWriMo tomorrow.

Of course, that’s a different ball game entirely. I was going to rework one of my romances for Nano this year, but now I’m thinking about starting a sequel to Dragon Wraiths. Who knows, unlikely as it seems to me, it might actually go somewhere.

 

What have I learned?

I’ve always been too scared to relinquish my work to a critique group for fear of being told to give up writing and go back to the day job. I know family members are biased, but my parents don’t give up their weekends lightly. If they read my book non-stop to the end it was because they wanted to. That must count for something. Maybe I need to have more faith in myself.

Writing is a solitary business and editing is worse because you don’t even really have your characters for company. It’s easy to forget what’s good about your novel. You get too close, you lose the ability to feel the suspense, to be swept up in the drama.

My advice? When you have torn your novel apart and rebuilt it from the ground up, and you still think it stinks, remember – ask for a fresh opinion. You might just be pleasantly surprised.

 

Learning to row and little ones growing up

Turns out rowing is in my family’s blood!

I must apologise for my prolonged silence. When my babies were born a childminder I met said, “As a parent of very young children your world will shrink to a tiny point where the only things that matter are whether they eat and sleep and are happy. As they grow older you will begin to remember that there’s a whole other world out there.”

As my son’s second birthday approaches (this Friday – I can’t believe it) that prophecy has become true. All of a sudden I have re-joined the human race. As a result, some things – like my writing and this blog – have been forced into the background, despite my best intentions that that wouldn’t happen. I’m particularly concerned that I have entered my young-adult novel Dragon Wraiths into the Mslexia competition without the final draft being completely finished. I’m taking a gamble that I’ll be able to at least fix any continuity errors before I might have to submit the full manuscript, which they estimate as being in November for the short list. To be honest I don’t really expect to make the short list so it will be a nice dilemma to have.

For those paying attention to my on-going ramblings about my young adult book I have had to forgo entering the Chicken House competition, as the final first draft came in a third over their word count limit of 80,000. I’m not an enthusiastic (or experienced) enough editor to lop off thirty-five thousand words in a month.

So what have I been doing in the real world?

Learning to row

I married into a family of rowers and always vowed I would learn one day. I vowed I’d learn Italian too (my husband is half-Italian) but that’s proving more tricky. My husband planned to teach me to row after our second child was born, but a premature baby and postnatal depression put paid to that idea.

Then this summer our local Adult Education brochure arrived and I read it cover to cover, as I always do. I’m an academic junkie as well as always being on the lookout for local Italian classes. No joy on that front but there was a five-week Ladies Only Learn to Row course. Fate.

I changed the kids’ nursery days, swore my husband to secrecy, and signed up. Three weeks in and I’m loving it: Now I can actually propel the boat without facing the prospect of a cold bath that is. The first two weeks were HARD. My brain wasn’t used to concentrating for two hours at a time and I got very cross with my lack of coordination. The lady from British Rowing seemed to think I was the antithesis of a natural.

Today, though, the boat flew. It was amazing. I rowed with my eyes closed. Literally. To start out rubbish and get better – to feel myself improve and to get instant feedback (if I sense I’m about to join the ducks I’m doing it wrong) – is exhilarating.

If only writing was like that. Or parenting.

After nearly four years of feeling like a failure it was fantastic to be proud of myself for once.

Little ones growing up

The other thing we’ve been doing this week is looking at primary schools for my daughter. Scary stuff. I’ve thought about where I would like my children to go to school pretty much since my daughter was born. Several of my friends are teachers and my sister moved her family to America partly because of a school she wants them to attend. Education is important.

I think back to the various schools I went to as a child and I can see the different shifts in my personality that came with each one. To make that decision now, when my daughter is not even four and my son (who will hopefully go to the same school) is not quite two, seems madness. Thankfully we are blessed with an array of great state schools around us so the choice is more small village school versus larger town school, and whether to take current friendships into account. No decisions yet. I’ll keep you posted.

In the meantime I am trying to get my head back into writing, to plod on with editing Dragon Wraiths (harder than I hoped it would be) and writing query letters for Pictures of Love (which I still intend to self-publish but, as I haven’t got time to do the final proof-read at the moment, I may as well rack up a few more rejection letters!)

Have any of you recently sent your first child to school or started a new hobby? What keeps you away from editing and blog writing?

Renewing my love affair with dragons (and editing)

Still from Stefen Fangmeier’s 2006 film Eragon.
Photograph: 20th Century Fox/Allstar

I find myself in the unprecedented position that I am itching to start editing my work in progress, Dragon Wraiths.

Usually I only enjoy the writing part and approach revision and editing much as I would a trip to the dentist. This time, though, I am having to force myself to finish the four or five chapters in the final section before I start taking it all apart. Thankfully I decided on a structure of nine 3,000-word-ish chapters per section (although I have added a whole extra section in my usual scope-creep), otherwise I would take the easy way out and decide the first draft is done already.

For most of my novels I am aware that I have underplayed the climax because I ran out of steam, or ideas, or a new book lured me away. So I am determined to battle through my battle scenes before I let myself review the whole and start drawing out the themes.

This time I think my last-chapters-lethargy is caused by things other than exhaustion or boredom (although with an average word count of 10,000 a day on the two days a week I get to write, exhaustion of ideas is definitely a factor. Hence no blog posts for a couple of weeks – all out of words!)

Firstly I’ve already closed out the love story and written the final scene. A mistake, but an unavoidable one. The final scene presented itself while I was walking the dog (see next post) and I never look gift words in the mouth. As a result I have written the bit of the story I’m interested in and skimmed over the same parts I often skim-read, namely the battle scenes.

The other problems are more positive. I am nervous, elated and excited about this book. It feels good. I have ideas about themes, character development, setting and so on that I want to build on during revision. All the wonderful blogs I read have clearly had an influence and I am eager to put them into practice.

I have also been reading some excellent and varied middle grade and young adult books about dragons, including Eragon by Christopher Paolini (written when he was fifteen!) and The Dragon’s Eye by Dugald A. Steer. These were complemented by an interesting blog post from 2009 that I discovered when searching for an image for this post: Dragons in Literature by Imogen Russell Williams, adding yet another great blog writer to my growing list.

As well as my eagerness to get going on revision I am also conscious of my deadlines. I am writing this book to enter in two Children’s Novel competitions, with deadlines of 10th September and end October. Clearly there is not enough time to revise properly so I need to get started as soon as I can or face a difficult decision: Whether to forget the competitions and focus on finishing the novel to the best of my ability or do a rush job (including reducing word count from 110k to 80k) and hope for the best.

What are your views on dragons in literature?

Have you ever had to rush revision to hit a deadline? All advice gratefully received. 

This interview with Christopher Paolini contains some great advice for writers.

Children’s Novel Competitions: Mslexia vs Chicken House

Ok so now I have a dilemma. The lovely Helen Yendall over on her Blog About Writing posted a link to another children’s novel competition running this autumn, this time with The Times and the publisher Chicken House.

If you follow my blog, you may know that I am writing a Young-Adult book – Dragon Wraiths – to enter in the Mslexia Children’s Novel competition.

Now I have to decide whether to continue to aim for the Mslexia competition, or to change direction and enter this one with The Times and Chicken House instead. They each have their pros and cons.

The deadline for the Chicken House is later than the Mslexia one (26th October vs. 10th September) but the entry is a full printed manuscript, up to 80,000 words (suggested minimum 30,000 words, which is the same as Mslexia). In the first instance, Mslexia are asking for the first chapter, up to 3000 words, with the full manuscript and synopsis to be sent later, if you are shortlisted. Now this is where the comparison gets tricky.

As well as the wanting the full manuscript, Chicken House state:

Each entry must be accompanied by a brief synopsis, plot plan and a letter of submission explaining the book’s appeal to children. (A plot plan is a chapter-by-chapter breakdown, with a couple of sentences on each, paying attention to the roles of the main characters, dramatic high points, and the most important strands of the plot. The synopsis should be no more than a page, and should give an overview of the complete story, including key characters, events and settings.)

So, how confident am I about my writing? Do I feel my opening chapter has enough impact for me to take the easier (more lazy) route, or will my story come across better will a full synopsis?

The latter, of course.  

I’ve already discussed how I’m worried my first chapter alone isn’t enough without a synopsis, because the dragons don’t come until a third of the way into the book. On the other hand, writing the synopsis is going to be hellish, because the novel skips between two worlds and two timelines, using different fonts (at the moment) to keep it all separate. Also the plot-plan is going to highlight my weaknesses when it comes to planning, as I’m not sure every chapter has a dramatic high point and so on.

There are other differences between the two competitions: the terms and conditions for the Times competition are much more thorough, including lots about the paper having rights forever to publish excerpts of any entry for free. That kind of stuff worries me, but I’ve convinced myself it’s just free publicity, assuming all excerpts are accredited to me as author.

Getting down to the nitty gritty of money, entry into Mslexia is £25 whereas the Times / Chicken House is £15. The minimum winner’s pot, as I read it, is £5,000 and £10,000 respectively. That’s pretty irrelevant: I don’t expect to win, really, although there’s no harm in hope.

The Times/Chicken House Ts & Cs have an interesting one-liner on what they are looking for:

The winner will be the entrant whose story, in the opinion of the judges, demonstrates the greatest entertainment value, quality, originality and suitability for children aged 7-18.

That’s a tall order for any author, but something we should all aspire to. I have no idea whether my idea is original and I don’t know any young-adults to try it out for entertainment or suitability. I guess these are things outside my control in a way. I find the story entertaining, and I like Young-Adult fiction (I’m re-reading Philip Pulman’s His Dark Materials at the moment, and finding it hard to put down, even though I’ve read it before)

Despite the entry cost I am extremely tempted to submit to both competitions. I can’t find anything in the rules expressly forbidding it. I would love to double my chances of at least getting some great feedback and the Times/Chicken House competition offers editorial feedback to the 20 shortlisted entries. That is something I can aim for.

Of course, there might be a problem if I won both competitions, but wouldn’t that be a nice problem to have? 😉

 

Other Links:

Competition Rules:

http://www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/public/competitions/article3375938.ece

http://mslexia.co.uk/whatson/msbusiness/ncomp_rules.php

The Chicken House Writer’s Guide

Gardening and Planning

The garden after much levelling and grass-sowing

Last Thursday afternoon I took some time off to tame our feral garden. The sun made an unexpected appearance and I couldn’t miss the opportunity.

We’ve been faffing around inexcusably regarding what to do with bits of our lawn. One large section is a mess, after we had a boat standing there for years (a long story). We sold the boat a few months ago and since then the whole area has been an eye-sore and child-trap: full of bits of rubbish, holes the dog dug under the boat and many vicious weeds.

Husband wanted to fill the holes with top-soil, roller it flat, make it as gorgeous as a cricket pitch. I want somewhere the kids can play without getting stung or covered in mud or breaking their ankle.

In our family, husband is responsible for all things outside and DIY, while I do all things indoors and domestic. I have recently taken over lawn mowing while husband has been away with work, much to my 3-year-old daughter’s bewilderment.

The first time I dragged the lawnmower out of the shed she looked at me as if I’d grown horns.

“Mummy, that’s daddy’s job.”

I couldn’t figure out how to get the mower started and after twenty minutes I was sweating and cursing. Her response was:

“Better leave it to daddy.”

Needless to say she had a quick lesson in woman’s lib and not giving up and I was given the motivation required to approach the task more calmly and find the dead-switch.

As well as mowing this Thursday I decided to tackle the ugly-eye-sore spot. First thing was to shift a giant tarpaulin and wood pile, trying not to scream too loudly when I uncovered a nest of tiny mice. (I covered them with a plant pot and they were later relocated by their mummy.)

As I was moving planks, filling holes, scattering grass seed and generally trying to reclaim half my lawn for the kids, I got to thinking about writing (as I often do when my hands are busy but my mind is not.)

I see metaphors everywhere; it was easy to get distracted by what it symbolised to leave baby mice safely hidden, only to trap them later when they venture into our house, or the futility of planting grass seed for the birds to eat. Maybe the wasted effort of reclaiming lawn when it hasn’t stopped raining for three months and the long-term forecast isn’t much better.

In the end what stuck in my mind the most was the conflicting lures of planning versus getting stuck in. When I write, I generally just get stuck in, and the ideas follow (hopefully) one upon another as I type. I’ve often thought I should plan more. One writer I know sketches every scene before writing anything and has a prescribed number of chapters in a book and so on.

That fills me with awe and terror.

Awe because I can’t write like that and terror because I feel I probably should. How can I call myself a writer when I stumble along hoping a story comes to me as I type?  Except I recently read that even well-known published authors occasionally have the same approach.

Looking at our garden my conclusion was it’s okay to just get stuck in, although a little planning doesn’t hurt. If I had got stuck in at the beginning of summer, without worrying about a plan, we’d have lawn by now. A lumpy lawn, full of weeds and holes, but a lawn nonetheless. In this case planning equalled procrastination (to be fair, mostly it was due to my husband being just too busy). However I did lose an hour of gardening time on Thursday having to go buy grass seed, so some planning might have helped. The main thing is, when I look at the flat seeded area now (see photo) I am filled with a huge sense of satisfaction and progress, no matter how uneven the end result.

I have reached deadlock with my Young Adult novel, Dragon Wraiths, because I have to create a new world and a history. I am dealing with two planets and two timelines, and planning really is essential to keep it all straight.

But I hate planning.

I don’t like reaching the end of a day with no increase in word-count. There is no sense of satisfaction, just a growing confusion, and sense that I could probably plan forever and never be fully satisfied. My creativity doesn’t function unless I am actually writing. I may as well be doing school essays.

Reading what I’ve written so far I realise that lack of planning hasn’t held me back from writing some good stuff.  I mostly know where the story is going, in my mind, I just don’t always know how it is going to get there until I start writing it down.

So, I could fart about worrying about the details of my world and have no story to enter in the Mslexia competition in September. Or I could break a dozen rules, just keep writing, and add the history in the second draft.

Maybe sometimes you just have to get stuck in and not worry if it’s lumpy and full of holes. After all you can’t edit a blank page any more than you can mow dirt.