Tag Archives: perspective

A change of perspective

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So. Back to the novel.

I’m trying not to think about quite how long it’s been since I’ve done any proper work on it, and am consoling myself instead with the fact that, in the midst of all the not-writing I’ve been doing this summer, I might just have had a teensy bit of a breakthrough.

There’s been something niggling away at me ever since I wrote the first draft – ever since, even, I came up with the concept. It’s the thing that, I think, has led to the inability of my agent to be entirely enthusiastic through all the various rewrites in the months and months that followed, and has led to me clamming up when asked to explain exactly what my novel is about.

Because it turns out that it might not be about what I thought it was at all.

The lightbulb began to flicker into life on a sunny afternoon in my garden when I was sat with a writer friend who had come to visit, discussing what she thought of my manuscript. She was effusively positive, loved the concept, was won over by its uniqueness and its potential for adaptation for the screen. I basked in the glow of her admiration until suddenly it became very apparent that she just hadn’t ‘got’ it. She had totally misinterpreted my main character, and as a result had completely missed the point of the novel I had written.

Or so I thought.

Over the course of the few days we spent together, as I reluctantly let go of the message I’d been trying to communicate and my friend convinced me that actually her reading had way more potential from both a literary and commercial standpoint, I realised that I had inadvertently told a completely different story from the one I thought I had. And actually the one I was left with might just have been what I was looking for all along.

I apologise if this is all coming across as excessively cryptic. I’d love to be able to fill you in on exactly what it is that’s been turned on its head to make me suddenly see the way forward. Unfortunately, though, it would completely spoil the story for you. And I very much hope that you will get to read it, one day.

I have been desperate to get on with editing since this little revelation, but things have been way too hectic. Even now I have a couple more weeks of adventuring before I can properly hunker down and set my story straight – but I do have a plan about what I’m going to do in the meantime.

Firstly, I am writing a synopsis. I started yesterday, and I am really, really hating the process, but it’s pretty essential that I get it done. I need to be able to express, confidently, what the novel I’m working on is all about – to myself, and anyone else who might be interested.

Secondly, I have a pile of inspirational reading that I need to make a bit of a dent in. The final phase of this summer’s adventures involves pootling around in a campervan, and I’m hoping that might go rather well with making my way through a book or five.

Then when we’re back I am diving straight on in to (yet) another edit. This time, though, I’m feeling much more confident about where it’s all going.

Just remember to remind me of that in a month or so!

 

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Just a matter of time

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Time is a weird thing. On one level it should be pretty straightforward: seconds and minutes and hours and days that are clearly defined, easily comparable and impossible to argue with. Except it never quite works like that.

There are days when time seems to stretch out endlessly before me. When it seems to bend to my will, allowing me to squeeze out extra drops of possibility long after the well should have run dry. Those days were especially frequent when I was teaching. I’d look at my to do list in the morning, scrunching up my nose with the conviction that this would be the day that had me beat. And yet I’d find myself in the evening, exhausted with a glass of wine in hand, marvelling at all I’d managed to achieve. And I’d get up the next morning and do it again, continuing on repeat until the end of term finally appeared. Those days still happen now that I’m a work at home mum, though they’re coloured by the knowledge that not for a long time will I have a real holiday to collapse into. I’m wary when I feel myself straining against my limits as I know I cannot afford to break.

There are other days when time seems to eat me up. When everything seems to take forever, and the simplest tasks balloon out of my control. There have been more of those since I’ve been a mum: having a baby in hand makes rushing almost impossible, and the fog of sleep deprivation has much to answer for in its ability to mess with the very fabric of the universe.

My least favourite days are when time scares me. When it looms up out of nowhere and laughs at my dreams. In many ways I think I’m still extremely sheltered and naive: I haven’t yet had to cope with loss on any grand scale, and I’m only just surfacing out of that teenage belief in invincibility to realise that my time on this planet is not in fact infinite. I look at my son, think of all the things I want to show him, to experience with him, and sometimes I am filled with a sense of dread. What if there just isn’t enough time?

I chastise myself for the hours and days and weeks I wasted when I was younger – time spent on trying to make time go faster, to get to a place where I would be happy, where I didn’t have to try so hard any more.

Because now I’m here, and I want to savour every moment. I know that I can’t really change the amount of time I have left, but I also know that if there are days when ten minutes can feel like forever then I want to strive for that rather than let them pass in a flash. Everyone says that time speeds up when you have kids, but I’m not sure I’m willing to accept that.

So I will continue on my mission to bend time to my will, to see it less as a set of shackles I must comply with and more as a challenge to be overcome. The Doctor put it well when he spoke of ‘wibbley wobbley timey wimey’: certainly nothing to be taken too seriously, not when there’s just so much to do.

Thank you to Sara at Mum Turned Mom for inspiring this post with her prompt: ‘I wish I had more time…’

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