Henceforth February will be known as the month of getting shit done. Hurrah!

Writing

The rewrite is going well. I’ve been practicing the time management ideas that I learnt back in January. The whole “just do one page” tactic has worked well. Once I open the document and start working on the manuscript, I usually continue until I’ve rewritten at least one scene. Then I go away, and come back to work on it again later in the day.

I recommend getting hold of a copy of James Scott Bell’s, Revision & Self-Editing: techniques for transforming your first draft into a finished novel. I’m only on page 32, but I’ve already made several amendments to the draft based on his advice, and it’s made me much happier with where the redraft is going.

In March, I’ll be attending a Guardian Masterclass which focuses on the process of, and problems encountered during, the rewrite. I’m really looking forward to this – as much as I love writing I adore learning about the techniques involved so this is going to be great.

Reading

February was chick lit month in my personal reading challenge. It took me three weeks to read three books, so I could have squeezed one more in, but then, I think some time to think about the books before starting on the next month’s genre is a good idea (okay, okay so maybe I didn’t want to read a fourth chick lit book so shoot me!)

One of the marks of a good book is when it sticks in your mind. When the characters stay with you after their story ends. Out of the three books, my favourite was It Would be Wrong to Steal My Sister’s Boyfriend (Wouldn’t It?). The plot, the writing and the characterisation drew me in and made me care about the main character’s story. Out of the three, it’s the one book I’m not sending straight to the charity shop.

The first book (Don’t tell the Groom), I just remember for wanting doom to fall on the protagonist who did not deserve a happy ending. The third book – Just a Girl Standing in Front of a Boy – has been a bit of a surprise. I found the main character’s traits and quirks annoying in the extreme, and I’ve just had to sit and think for a while to remember what happened. The romantic plot didn’t leave much of an impression, but the twist at the end was sweet and a nice way to leave the story.

So, am I now a massive fan of chick lit? Erm, no. Look, I have nothing against romance, or comedy. I just prefer there to be some other kind of conflict or peril in the mix. A plot which focuses on doing lots of shopping, or the character worrying if she should marry her boyfriend or someone she, you know, loves, isn’t enough for me.

Next month’s reading challenge sees another shift in tone – all will be revealed tomorrow.

Links of the month

  • There’s a great post over on write to done about dealing with other people’s reactions to your decision to write, and how you can manage their responses. These are important strategies for writers to have – we have enough trouble dealing with our own inner critics without having to justify ourselves to sceptical friends or family.
  • One author decided to take aim at JK Rowling this month. It turns out that writers only write for fame and money, and as JK has her fair share of both she should step away from the computer and just stop. The good thing is that dozens of authors have come out against this blog post, the bad thing – the writer of the post has achieved the press coverage she craves. JK Rowling’s success doesn’t impede that of any new writer. Write something that catches the public imagination and your book could be just as successful, or you could write about something that you enjoy, which although is well written, has a small market. That’s fine, but publishers aren’t going to treat you like the next JK Rowling, and that’s your problem, not hers.
  • However, I had a bone to pick with JK Rowling this month. How could she even think that Hermione should have ended up with Harry and not Ron? I’m sorry, but I could not think of a more boring couple in the history of literature. Even when there was that whole ‘horcrux makes Ron believe Harry and Hermione are a couple’ bit in the last book/film I remember thinking “ew, no!” I’m of the belief that once you create something and release it into the world, it belongs to the fans. If fans want to write fan-fiction and put various odd couples together, fine, but when the author does it…no.
  • Andrew O’Hagan has written a 26,000-word account of his experience as a ghostwriter for Julian Assange. It’s a brilliant article, and the psyche of his client aside, O’Hagan offers an interesting insight into what it’s like to ghostwrite an entire book. The article is well worth a read.