Monday 14 January 2013
Why is nothing as straightforward as it should be?
When I started writing In the Shade of the Mulberry Tree, I thought it would just be a case of opening a Word document, thinking a bit about where to begin my story and then to start tapping the keys. Clearly all I would have to do was persist at that for a bit, then hand it to a nice publishing company, have it printed and - voila! I would be a best-selling, multi-millionaire author.
My first hurdle was the writing. It isn't quite as simple as just sitting down and doing it. That, in itself, requires discipline. Discipline is not something I am good at. I am easily distracted. I love lots of things. Tea and biscuits, for example. And, gradually, as I made friends and contacts in my new home, they were more enticing than retelling my story.
I am forever indebted to Debbie who listened patiently to my whinge about getting the book written before suggesting I set myself a target: 500 words a day. All of a sudden it was manageable. 500 words is just a couple of sides of A4. I could make enough time to sit down (with a cup of tea, of course) and write that. In fact, perhaps my target should be 1000 words?
So I revised a target, knowing I would be happy with half of it. And thus I was able to achieve, but also didn't feel a need to be down on myself when it went wrong. And I gave myself weekends off: writing time then was a bonus! (In fact, spending time with my wonderful husband and children was the bonus, and made all the writing mid-week worthwhile.)
Writing those final words of the final chapter was such an exhilarating feeling! I had accomplished something - I had followed it through to completion. There, in a few kilobytes of text, was a year of my life, written out for all to see.
Then I started reading it through and didn't like bits. And it was lumpy, with chapters of variable length - some many pages long, some just a couple of sides. And did it really flow together? Would anyone else truly be interested? The process of editing began in earnest.
Today is my private deadline for finishing editing. Well, actually, it will be tomorrow (you see, I like double deadlines so that I don't feel too bad when I fail the first!). If this book is to be published then I have to get it as good as I can at this moment in time. What is astonishing is how many spelling or grammatical mistakes there are that I must have overlooked all the other times I've read it through!
I am determined to meet this deadline despite the traumatic computer events of the last week. My old Mac Mini had died on a couple of occasions in the last month: the entire operating system crashed. I'm no technological expert, but I know that isn't good. So in the middle of last week the nice men at the Apple store did a data transfer to the new model for me.
In itself the change wasn't a problem, but the new Mac Mini (a) doesn't have the right connector to my old computer screen, so I am hitched up to the TV in a rather precarious fashion and (b) doesn't have Word on it (and won't accommodate my older version), so I am having a rapid lesson in Pages (Apple's equivalent).
As if that wasn't enough, over the weekend the computer decided not to communicate with my printer. Did anyone ever say life was supposed to be easy?