The Heartland of the Winter – Final Draft, version 2

It’s amazing how quickly you get used to a good thing. I’ve only had two Fridays off so far, and yet the fact that I have to go to work tomorrow is making me go ‘rubbish! It’s soo unfair!’ like a disgruntled teenager. At least I have a good reason for it: I swapped round my days off so I could go to London on Monday and talk to an agent about my book. Yes, little me, talking to an actual agent, about the book what I wrote. Now, just because I don’t believe in fate doesn’t mean I want to tempt it, but I think it went OK. She didn’t say ‘this is a masterpiece and must be published immediately!’ but nor did she say ‘this is terrible and if you don’t stop stalking me I am going to call the police.’

So, what are the next steps? Well, to explain I need to backtrack a little. The Heartland of the Winter started life as a stand-alone novel; but then, as so often happens, the tale grew in the telling. First I realised that there was much more to tell at the end. Then I realised that there was also more to tell at the beginning. Finally I had to face facts: I had accidentally written the middle of the trilogy first.

Oh well, writing a book is very much something you can only learn by doing; a bit of trail and plenty of error. I did consider finishing off the whole trilogy before trying to submit it anywhere, but that sounded like too much work. So I sent off the book as it was, crossed my fingers, and waited for a response. I got one… and guess what, the response was that the book shows promise but feels incomplete, and needs more work before it’s ready to go. I can’t claim this came as a surprise, but I still found that the joy of getting a broadly positive answer was a little bit tempered by disappointment at finding that I still have a bit more work to do before that launch party and book tour.

So it’s back to the writing desk for me. I think I’ve figured out how I can incorporate the earlier events into the narrative without writing an entire prequel, and how I can extend the end so it comes to a satisfying conclusion whilst still leaving a bit of a sequel hook. If all goes to plan, I should end up with a two-book series of which the first part – The Heartland of the Winter, Final Draft, version 2 – should be ready within, as a rough estimate, three to six months. But then, tales do grow in the telling…

Fridays off work: a battleground for laziness vs productivity

Following my Christmas and New Year break, the time has come to get stuck into blogging again. I haven’t made any new year’s resolutions as such, but I have made quite a significant lifestyle change which I am hoping will help me balance my nascent writing career with the other demands on my time. I have agreed with work that I will compress my hours into four days a week, taking Fridays off. My productive side is delighted at the chance to spend more time on writing, while my lazy side is delighted at the chance to spend more time in bed. I just need to make sure that Productive Me makes the most of the opportunity, and doesn’t end up letting Lazy Me squander those precious free Fridays on shopping trips and surfing the net. So I have decided to create some guidelines, strict but not too strict, designed to give Lazy Me just enough jam to prevent sabotage of Productive Me’s efforts. And I’m posting them here on my blog for all the world to see, in the hope that this will encourage me to stick to them.

My Friday-off rules are:

–          No alarm (Lazy Me made it clear that this was non-negotiable). However I will try to get up promptly after waking.

–          I will not ‘just’ do anything before starting writing (except for brushing teeth and stuff like that)

–          Productive Me has a target for the day, split into suitable chunks, eg 3,000 words on any project divided into 3 x 1,000-word mini-targets

–          Lazy Me will be compensated for putting up with this disgusting level of productivity by a series of escalating rewards based around achievement of the mini-targets. For example:

o   1st mini-target: ½ an hour of social networking or other net-surfing

o   2nd mini-target: cup of tea and a cake

o   Achievement of full daily target: 1 hour of gaming/1 episode from a DVD box set followed by an evening with my husband and/or friends and probably a few well-deserved drinks

–          No household chores, shopping, appointments etc – but I will be able to take deliveries.

–          This blog will be updated at least fortnightly, forming part of my targets as above

So far my Lazy and Productive sides are in agreement that these guidelines are firm but fair. How well it works in practice remains to be seen. In an attempt to crowd-source my self-discipline, I urge you to please, next time you see me or encounter me online, ask me how it’s going, and whether either side has broken the terms of the ceasefire.

Disclaimer: The Lazy Me and Productive Me mentioned above are figures of speech provided for illustrative and amusement purposes only. I do not actually suffer from multiple personality disorder (yet). Just so that’s clear.