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.

12 responses

  1. Ooh – exciting times! Well done for getting that fourth draft done and sent out. The womentoring project sounds fab – I’ll have to have a look at that. Sounds like it was just what you needed. And good luck with NaNo! I’ve done a Campnano but never the full shebang. That’s another thing i’d like to do at some point. Thanks for linking to #WhatImWriting, it’s great to hear where you’re up to with things. xx

    • Thank you – I think so! I can really recommend The Womentoring Project – I got so much out of it. I probably won’t get 50K written over Nanowrimo but at the very least it will get me started. X

  2. It’s exciting when your manuscript is with an editor as you’re fascinated to find out what their comments will be. And then you realise how much more work is needed : ) The Womentoring project sounds very good and good luck with NanNo, I’m going to try it for the first time this year if I can get my MS off the to editor in time.

    • I’ve no doubt I will need to make loads of changes when the manuscript comes back. Womentoring was great, and Nanowriomo gives me something to look forward to in November, although I’m sure I won’t make the 50K – I’m a pretty slow writer even when I’m not self-censoring!

  3. A friend (poet) has used and recommended Womentoring to me. It looks like such a fantastic service and so am delighted to hear that your experiences re-force those of said friends. I’m hoping to snare one of the authors on there in the new year for my children’s novel, currently out with Betas. The only problem is her profile always says “not accepting submissions as currently working with a mentee” – hoping this changes soon! Best of luck – it all sounds like it’s starting to come together.

    • Yes – It is really good. I had a very good experience with my mentor. Very best of luck with your MS, and hope you are able to snare your author come the new year. I think I was quite lucky in that I applied not long after the project had begun.

  4. It’s been too long! So great to hear that you’re managing to be so productive – unlike me! Although, having said, have just jacked in the day job to focus on writing (for ‘jacked in’ read ‘had a bloody massive argument with alpha male manager who refused me a day off take little one to the dental hospital, and which furthermore, may have involved me using the words “dinosaur” and “twat” to his face.) So, er, that was that. Good luck with NaNo and definitely think I’ll give Womentoring a go – sounds awesome. Lovely to touch base again! xx

    • It has been too long indeed! I hope you are very well. Your ex-manager sounds like a prize turnip and you did the right thing. Isn’t that grounds for complaint too – surely companies have to take into account appointments for children? X

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