I think back to this time last year when I was still on the cusp of a second draft. Last week, I sent a rather more polished fourth version into an editor. Exciting but nervous times. Am I happy with it? Is this what I want to be writing? I honestly don’t know – you can only ever write the story you feel compelled to write. One at a time. I am glad for another break from it though, and at the very least I raised money for the Birth Trauma Association while I wrote the third draft, although the story is as far away from birth and motherhood as you could possibly imagine.
And I’ve changed the title. No longer Four Gigs, my novel is now entitled The Big Yellows on much encouragement from other writers, editors and agents.
A sixth month stint with the wonderful Womentoring Project last year helped shape the manuscript into what it is today, and I’ve lost count the number of times I’ve rewritten chapter one, those dreaded first few paragraphs and lines.
The Womentoring Project ‘offers free mentoring by professional literary women to talented up and coming female writers who would otherwise find it difficult to access similar opportunities.’ I can’t recommend it highly enough, and if you are out there writing, give it a go, apply, you never know what might happen on the back of it.
I honestly didn’t think my mentor, SJ Bradley, would chose me as her mentee, and still, to this day, I imagine I was her one and only choice sitting in her inbox. And she was brilliant, utterly brilliant with her feedback which was so thoughtful and constructive and encouraging. My time spent with her over emails and Skype sessions revolutionised my whole approach to novel writing. And my characters grew, as did my writing too (I hope).
So a big, big thank you Womentoring and SJ Bradley.
And now? And now I’m at an awkward in between stage, that gummy gap between the milk teeth and the adult teeth.
I’m in between projects.
So while the manuscript is a away, new words must play.
I had begun a short story, so I will return to that, and I’m also working on a new idea for a second novel. The idea was a spark from another idea I’d had for a dystopian but which I don’t have the confidence to write yet, and anyway, I’ve heard that dystopians aren’t quite as fashionable as they used to be. So this new story is set in The Lake District and London, and is another coming of age story – I love coming of age stories, and I love that they can happen at any age too. It’s also set in the early nineties, and I keep finding myself drawn back to this era again and again. Perhaps because this decade was so youthfully alive for me? Because it was during my twenties? Because I’m still working through personal events that happened during this time?
Anyway, I think it’s time to write a really, really bad first draft again, and give Nanowrimo a go.
And then I’m certain I’ll have to rewrite my current manuscript upon its return from the editor’s.