Monday, 21 September 2009

Once more, with feeling...

I just realised that I hadn’t blogged for almost a week...whatcha been doing, dude I hear you ask? Aren’t we your bloggy friends your main priority? Well yes of course you are – ish. I’ve been busy on the manuscript, is the main reason. And I’m happy to report that just the other day I typed those three little words. The goddamn End.

Yes, 140,000 words later and the first draft is done. And can I just publicly thank E at Cliff Cottage for the space, time and support (not to mention the delicious meals, multiple bags of maltesers and lashings of whisky) she has offered me over the last wee while. Without the writing weekends at CC I would be nowhere near the stage I am now. You’re a saint, E. Every writer should be blessed with a benefactor like you.

The stage I am at now is the re-write. See, you think you type those three little words and your job is done. You can crack open the seal on that bottle of whisky, neck a goodly portion of same, put your feet up and relax while dreaming of all the plaudits, adulation, kudos, female attention and cash that your work of undoubted genius is bound to bring in. But then you make the mistake of reading some of it and you realise that the hard work is yet to begin. The Re-write.

I sometimes listen to other writers talking about the process they go through and mentally tick them off as mendacious and self-deluded if they say they love the re-writing process. Who are they kidding? It’s a freakin’slog.

The main difficulty with me is honesty. Reading something I’ve written and giving it an honest appraisal is not easy. These rows of words are my children. Especially that beautifully crafted metaphor on page 11. And then there’s the issue of being caught up in the narrative...we all love a story, don’t we? I read over the text, forget I’m supposed to be editing and ten minutes later I realise I’ve lost my focus and been drawn in to the story. Which is nice ‘cos if I’ve caught myself doing that and I know the story intimately, that’s a good sign, innit? No, it isn’t, ‘cos I miss stuff. So then I need to go back and start all over again.

Anywho, the re-write can wait a few weeks. I need some distance from the work before I can edit it effectively. Besides I feel a bit drained. It takes a lot of mental energy to sustain that kind of effort over the months. Whatever emotions my characters are going through, I need to “experience” a little of that myself. So it’s time to chill, blog and catch up on my reviews for

That’s the plan. Except that I’m laid up injured. I went over on my ankle yesterday and did some ligament damage. It’s no funny, Miss W.

There was I, sharp as a new pin on a Sunday morning, bright as a silver button and as hungry as a hunter after a night out on the Saturday. To celebrate my non-hungover status – I was captain sensible – I know when to stop – I walked to the local shop and purchased a newspaper and some munchies that could be used to cook a fry-up. I left the shop swinging my wee bag, mind full of the stomach filling, artery clogging potential of the contents in said bag and suddenly found myself falling shoulder first into a wall. Somebody had made the ground uneven. The pain was awful. The swelling in my ankle was instant. Never a good sign. So while I’m hopping up and down on one leg groaning in a high pitch, fukfukfukfukfukfukfuk, an old man walked past me and said – that doesnae look good, son. No shit, Doctor Moriarty. While my indifferent fellow shopper ambled over to his Ford Focus and drove off, I hopped, stumbled and limped 300 yards to my house. The first 100 were nasty. Thought I was going to have to phone a taxi to take me the rest. The pain reduced to a dull roar and I managed. Wot a trooper.

Accident and Emergency is never my favourite place to while away the hours. Particularly when the sun is shining, I’m the one damaged and I have a bag full of fry-able foods wasting on the kitchen floor.

Long story short-ish, I waited a few hours to be assessed and x-rayed. Nothing broken, but I have suffered some ligament damage. After three. 1...2...3...awwwww.

Right. That was rubbish. Do it again, but this time with feeling.

I’ve to sit with my foot higher than my heart and wiggle my toes once an hour. Try doing that while working on a laptop. No easy. Another thing is that I’ve not to exercise for 6-8 weeks. Time to put back on that fat-suit. Well, I would if I had access to some food. The cupboards are bare and I can’t drive. Not enough flexibility in my ankle to do so safely. Hurrah for Tesco Direct. Problem is they have no delivery slots until tomorrow lunchtime. In the meantime, a quick inventory of my kitchen cupboards reveal that Old Mother Hubbard has been in on a raid. All I have left are 2 apples, 3 tangerines, two tins of tuna, an egg and some frozen chips. Oh, and a bottle of wine. There’s calories in wine, no?


  1. Awwwww. Sounds like you have the perfect foods left for someone who won't be getting any exercise, lol. I did that to my ankle years ago and still remember it. I still can't believe nothing was broken. There was no way to get my ankle into a comfortable spot. Take it easy.

    Maybe you'll get lucky and some new friends will show up on your door with food, fun, and drink.

    BTW "Freakin' slog" says it best!

  2. geez, michael, so sorry for the spill! hope you're on the mend asap. actually, i was sort of worried that you hadn't blogged all week. at first i thought you'd taken an unplanned vacation. but then i remembered that you already had one. then i remembered you had your phone stolen. and then the sudden silence became ominous. what if, whoever stole your phone, they had decided to go after you. and that you were being held hostage somewhere, like say a bubblegum factory, and the only way of contacting someone was writing an sos message in the comic that comes wrapped in bubblegum. and then waiting and waiting and waiting, hoping the person who gets that one piece of gum is not an illiterate. needless to say, it was anxiety producing. But I am relieved that you are not in any extreme danger (anymore that is, because don't you think that fall of yours was a bit suspicious? with a taint of the supernatural? What if you'd been given a little ghostly shove?) Anyway, no need to spook the invalid so I shall just say, congratulations! on finishing your book! that must make you feel fantastic! t

  3. Sorry to hear about the fall Michael! Spent quite a bit of time in A & E with Alan earlier this summer! And there are oystercatchers nesting up at that hospital!
    Glad you've got to THE END - but have to take issue with you over one thing - I do, honestly and truly LOVE rewriting. What really scares me is the blank screen. I don't like first drafts. Hate them in fact. But as soon as I've got something actually written, no matter how crap I think it is, I'm away and reckon I've got something to work on - although you're right. You have to leave it quite a while, to get some perspective on it. Wonder if it's the playwright in me? New plays tend to go through many drafts - sometimes dozens - in the development process - you only stop when the actors say they can't possibly learn anything new in the given time! But I suppose we all work differently, and that's the truth!

  4. Marley, fun, food and drink sounds ideal.
    Thea, thanks for the laugh. Whatever you are on, keep at it.
    Catherine, ain't that the truth.

  5. Listen, Michael, stop whingeing and get that bloody book edited and published. I NEED to read it. It's frustrating to dip into your blogs again because I want to read and enjoy them but leisure time's a bit squeezed for the next few months.
    Get well soon, darling.

  6. Hearty congratulations on finishing the first draft... but sincere condolences on damaging the ankle. I've done both, tho' never at the same time. Take it as an enforced opportunity to be lazy and do lots of reading. When the pain eases to excruciating from unbearable you'll have no excuse not to focus on those revisions. (I'm with Catherine in that I don't mind them at all. I feel like the majority of work in planning, plotting and creating is done, and the revisions are just making desirable improvements.) Get well soon!

  7. You poor old sod. Watch where you're putting your feet next time. When am I getting to see TGC? Lots of love, Gillian x

    PS I love rewrites too. Pressure's off and people have stopped screaming at me.