Friday, 20 April 2012

Cocktail time

Husband had a birthday at the weekend.
So the boys made him a ginormous carrot cake.

It took me hours to clean up the mess they made.
But it tasted good!

While we were at Burgh Island, husband was very impressed by the cocktails made by the hotel's legendary barman, Gary MacBar. (In the early afternoon, he made us delicious Henris and Tom Collinses to drink in the sunshine; then at cocktail hour, he made us fabulous Bellinis with champagne.)

So self and the boys bought husband his own book of  cocktail recipes and a selection of alcohol and fruit. He's had a lot of fun with it (I even caught him cooking his own sugar-syrup for the Tom Collinses!) - and we've both been mildly pissed ever since.

On Saturday, I invited friends and family round for acres of chinese food, and husband made a huge jug of peach Bellini with dozens of raspberries in it. It was so pretty - I wish I'd photographed it, but I was a bit too plastered by then!

(Our recycling boxes are groaning with empty bottles.)

The boys went back to school this week and I've been trying to get back to my neglected novel.
Two of the people who read it have told me they don't like the first chapter - which is a bit of a blow since that's the only bit any agents I send it to will look at.
HH called round during her morning dog-walk and explained that the tone was wrong, the pace was wrong and the length wasn't quite right either. (I think it takes a good friend to tell you all this first thing in the morning!)
Thing is, I didn't actually write chapter one as part of the story. I began at chapter 2, then added chapter 1 afterwards in order to please the imaginary agents I might send it to. I made it as fast and dramatic and easy-to-read as I possibly could, but as it turns out, this suits neither my style nor my story. Bloody imaginary agents!

So I've now had to jettison the first chapter before I'm halfway through the book. Humph!
What really worries me is that I'm not at all sure I would've seen just how wrong it was without the HH's intervention.
Freelance editors have been recommended to me by too many people (whose opinions I respect) for me not to wonder about it. But it costs a fortune (£400-£600!) with absolutely no guarantee of a book-deal afterwards.
Two members of my writing group have given it a go. The first paid about £75 to have a short story edited. Although she said the advice she received was invaluable, there's not much of a market for short stories and - therefore - no way of recouping her money. The second paid £60 to have her first three chapters and synopsis edited. Here, the editor has added a great many commas to the work and sent some encouraging compliments. In the editor's defence, I'm not sure it would've been possible to have included sweeping plot changes when she'd only read the first three chapters.
Although both group members said the feedback was worth the money in terms of the confidence and inspiration it gave them, they are still left wondering whether to spend the necessary £400-£600 on getting their full manuscripts edited or not.
(Of course the only other option is to give up on something they've worked long and hard on - and that completely sucks!)
A third (and perhaps bravest) group member has sent off the full amount along with her 80,000 word story, so we're all intensely interested to see what she gets back.
As for me, I don't see any way of raising the money, so I've entered a writing competition in which the prize is some free editorial advice. At least if it's free, they'll be more likely to be honest!

I hate the thought that the people most likely to succeed as published authors are those who can afford to throw most money at it. That would be - well, it would be - um - life, I suppose...

I'm reading a biography of Daphne du Maurier at the moment, and it claims that the first draft of Rebecca was completely different. The housekeeper was only a minor character (who wasn't menacing at all)...the narrator attempts to commit suicide by drinking disinfectant...then she and her husband (who wasn't called Maxim - but Henry) end the book by dying in a car crash - so even the 'Last night I dreamed I went to Manderley line couldn't have been included.
Now Du Maurier must've planned all these things and worked on them and written them all down - and I bet it was still a great story. So what made her change so much? How did she bring herself to cut entire scenes and how did she know with such certainty what would work better?
I'm pretty sure I wouldn't have seen any of it!
Maybe a good freelance editor is the only sensible way to go...
Hopefully my husband will keep me supplied with strong cocktails while I try to figure it all out.

Wordcount is now around 65,500 - I'm just happy it's moving again!

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