My work for the next week is completing a final edit on my memoir A Green Girl to obtain a publishing cost from Matador, the self-publishing specialists.
Another person, experienced in editing, is reading it and making suggestions. Occasionally we don’t agree. Interestingly the chapter which is the most difficult to agree on is the opening one.
My reader prefers an earlier version, which I have moved on from. I agree that an earlier draft of chapter 1 was dramatic and moving. But the conclusion took readers to one of the most climatic scenes in the memoir. Too much, too quickly.
Years ago I learnt the maxim, ‘Make them laugh, make them cry and make them wait.’
I’d done the laughing and the crying and I needed the waiting.
I think I’ve now created a first chapter which will satisfy both of us.
Luckily, I enjoy the re-drafting process. Not more than the initial, enthusiastic first draft, but the cutting up, sometimes physically, of chapters and see how they work when the order of scenes is altered, is fascinating and challenging.
I read that Jeannette Winterson refers to her writing room as a studio. She writes and prints scenes, puts them on the floor and decides how to put them together when she think she has finished writing.
I don’t print each scene but I do print each chapter. Probably because it encourages me as I see what I have written! This approach does help when things go wrong with the structure or just the ‘feel’ of how the novel will read.
It is also much easier to cut up words on paper and play around with them than it is to copy and paste sections on screen. So easy to lose track of what is where.
In my spare time I do jigsaw puzzles. I get huge pleasure from fitting the pieces together and making the picture perfect.
Not that I am saying my writing is ever perfect. But perhaps my love of puzzles, begun in childhood, has proved a blessing.