Right now I am rewriting a novel I originally completed ten years ago. It is really strange revisiting it after all this time as my writing has changed quite a bit. Obviously I was in a different place, going through a very different time in my life to what it is today.
This is a good thing. I can view the story with a more experienced eye while leaving the essential spirit and style it was written in well alone. I remember that once I had originally completed the manuscript I couldn’t face the daunting task of editing it. One of the things I have more recently learnt is not to be afraid of seeking help. This time when I feel I have done as much as I can with it, I will pass it over to an experienced editor. This wasn’t something that even occurred to me as an option all those years ago.
I am not someone who can read a book over and over again, however much I enjoy it, I’m the same with films, once seen and I’m satisfied, however much I loved the story, cast etc.
All I did at the time was have a go at editing the first three chapters, sent it off to a handful of agents then moved on to writing yet another novel. I wasn’t all that bothered about getting published; I simply had stories in my head I wanted to put down on paper. And what stories! The one I am currently writing runs to 251 pages of 12pt type and the second novel is much the same length. So they are both roughly around 120k words long. Writer’s block, I am glad to say, has never been an issue!
When the second one was finished I repeated the actions I took with the first to no avail, so packed them up in files and more or less forgot about them.
Life moved on, I set up a small market stall business, became busy with that and put writing to bed for about five years. However, the writing bug has a habit of returning and nibbling at you. I started to write a market diary but I’m not really into writing diaries so that went by the wayside. Then I would just sit and write observations of things that happened at markets, characters, comments, habits and such like.
I noticed that the Eastern Daily Press had a variety of columnists writing about their specific areas of interest and decided to email Peter Franzen, the editor at the time with a sample column about people and their small dogs suggesting it might be fun to have a column dedicated to market life. To my surprise he emailed back quickly and said he liked it and gave me a name to get in touch with. The rest as they say, is history. I ended up writing around sixty weekly columns and created quite a bit of intrigue in the process but that is another story.
The columns taught me to edit my own work on a weekly basis. The number of words had to be exact, and of course it had to be topical and interesting. I soon got the knack and rarely got asked to change anything. I owe those columns and Peter Franzen quite a lot for giving me that chance. At last I am happy to reread and edit my own work, and because of that, publishing my first two short story e-books wasn’t quite as daunting as it would have been all those years ago. It’s all very well writing lots of words but if you don’t get to share them, well it’s a waste!
So I’ll go and get on with the rewrite now, I’m only on page 71!