Sunday, 6 September 2009

Book 5 - first "rough" draft in the bag

I had to do a quick scan back through my entries here to see when it was I finished the draft of book 4, which as of this time is called Cut and Run (in the Uk at least) and was kind of stunned to find that I finished - and I use that term ever so lightly - book 4 on 18th June 2009.

What I neglected to say at the time, but expounded upon within the comments was that the work obviously does not end there. Edits, line edits, proof edits etc follow, but in the meantime I've knuckled down, got my butt in gear and got stuck into Joe Hunter 5. Now, I don't want to give anything away about this one yet, for two reasons, mainly I haven't shown it to my agent or editor yet. But anyway, the point is, I just tapped out the last few words of the rough draft a couple hours ago. It's only eleven weeks since I delivered book 4 for gawds sake! So why does it feel like I've been writing non-stop for ages and ages?

Here's the only answer I can come up with (actually a number of answers but they all roll into one). First, I have been here there and everywhere promoting my writing and trying to sell my first published book. Second, I've been doing interviews and articles here there and everywhere. Third, I've been up-dating all the other sites I'm a member of, including TKnC, Arrowsake Alumni, Joe Hunter's Fixers, ITW Debut Authors, CrimeSpace (you can find links to all of these on the sidebar), as well as keeping my website up to date. Fourth, I've been writing the odd short story now and again (look under Vallon Jackson over at TKnC). Fifth, I've been reading lots of books. Sixth, I've been answering lots of emails. Seventh, I've been offering advice to aspiring authors. Eighth, I've been reading an MS and supplying a blurb. Ninth, I've been doing my family-man bit. Tenth, I've been watching too many paranormal TV programmes (have I told anyone I'm in love with these programmes. Before you think I'm totally soft in the head I am an open-minded sceptic and don't believe everything I see).

In between all of the above I have managed to rattle off 95,000 words of book five. I'm not bragging, just telling you how it is. I think it feels like I've been writing this book forever because of all the other things I've been doing alongside it. Eleven weeks! Still can't get my head around that.

I have to admit to having found writing this book different. In this one I wanted to flesh Hunter out as a character more, so I have taken a different approach to writing it. 3rd person instead of 1st, so I could delve deeper into Hunter without it all sounding like a constant monologue. Don't know if this is how the book will end up, but it was very different and interesting approaching the tale from a different POV.

Then there was THE GLITCH. Now, not many people know this, but I had this huge scene all worked out as the big finale, but then I read a book by my good friend Sean Black, who had written a very similar scene in his debut novel LOCKDOWN. I won't say anything else in case you haven't read Sean's book yet, but it was a case of Oh, Drat! Or words to that effect. Purely coincidental it was, and our scenes were different enough, but I didn't want people pointing the finger of accusation at me or calling me a copy-cat. A couple of friends, namely Col Bury and Sheila Quigley, both helped me, massaged my bumps (metaphorically speaking, I may add) and put me back on track. Believe it or not, but I'm pleased now that THE GLITCH came up, because without a doubt, by rethinking my novel, I believe it is far better than originally I planned.

Footnote: even though it's not at the foot.
Some people shy away from reading books in the same genre as they're writing. I'm pleased I did, otherwise I wouldn't have known how alike the scenes both Sean and I envisioned were and would have carried on as happy as a sand boy only for people to say, Hey, ain't that similar to that Sean Black bloke's book? (try saying that five times quickly)
Footnote 2: Even though its still not at the foot.
Hey, Sean, if you read this, if mine ends up as good as Lockdown, I'll be a very happy bunny. Great book, mate.

Anyway, back to what I was blathering on with. THE GLITCH set me back, but only for a short while. I still used the scene but moved it earlier in the narrative - but with a different location and end result. This then gave me a new twist or spin or direction on the story line and off I went.

OK, so I'm meandering now.

The point of this blog, as ever, is to inform aspiring writers of the process along the way. It's not easy. You lose time, conversely time drags, you sometimes go nuts with frustration, then giddy with excitement, but it's all such a great buzz that it's all worth it.

Keep on keeping on, folks.

As ever,


Clare said...

Congratulations on the first draft of book five! :)
Thank you for depressing me at the same time! :(
Do you ever sleep?
I feel tired just reading about all your activities but am forced to conclude your days must have at least 72 hours more than mine.
I've cut down on time on-line, I rarely watch TV, I only work part-time - and I'm STILL working on book one!
Note to self: maybe you should start watching paranormal TV? Maybe there are extra hours to be found in the Twilight Zone?
Seriously though, I really do appreciate your taking the time to update your blog like this reminding us all that at the heart of your success is SHEER HARD WORK.

Matt Hilton said...

It's so sheer I've lost the ability to count. I said eight weeks, when it's more like 11 weeks since I finished book 4. I'll put the blog right for other readers, but it's still pretty amazing, even for me.
You do right, Clare, cutting down on all the time on-line, it often drags me off and keeps me there for ages when I should be writing. Don't take my speed as a template, by the way. Everyone works at their own pace, so if it takes years to get something down that you're happy with, so be it. A five book contract with a publishing schedule of every 6 months make me work the way I do.
Then again, maybe not.Maybe it's just me.
By the way, I haven't found the secret to a 72 hour day yet, in the old Twilight Zone, but I've experienced plenty of lost time when I'm just gazing at the laptop screen and nothing seems to come. maybe it's my spirit guides that do the writing (said with a huge pinch of salt. THAT I don't believe in, whatever Derek Acorah says!).

Lee Hughes said...

Nice work, and it's always interesting to have a nosy into how the process works. Book five already, here's a money making tip. With the rate you're getting these done buy some shares in a Shelving manufacturer and then you'll get us twice, firstly buying the books and then again with the extra shelves we'll need to keep up with your output.

Paul Brazill said...

Nice post and real congrats. 5! Numero ono is joy so good on yer cobber! (I'm with Clare BTW, who knows where the time goes, as Sandy Denny once sang)

Col Bury said...

Prepare for a cloud of smoke blowing North toward your butt!

I already knew you were prolific, but even this knowledge has been surpassed - so to modify: you're a lean...(ok, skip lean)...mean, incessant, 24-7 writing machine!
And if you're like me I bet when you're not writing you're thinking about your writing.
I'm glad you sorted THE GLITCH, but responding to an email or two isn't exactly 'help' on my part - if that's the case you're defintely in credit!!! But thanks all the same.
Also I like the way 'family man' was point 9 on your list!
You are THE example to many of us and we all appreciate the way you selfishly provide us with insights into the world of the published novelist.
Smokey in 'ere, innit?
Well done, bud. - Col

Col Bury said...

Oh bugger...'selfishly'!!!
Why can't we go back to edit?
- tight git! :)

Matt Hilton said...

Selfishly is OK when pointed out that I stuck in family-man at number 9. That's obviously pole position at all times, but maybe doesn't always take precedence in the ol' time stakes. The way I balance myself is that I know everything else I do is to make a better future for my family.

But anyway, thanks to you all.
Word of caution, though. Still lots to do to polish the book, and I'm going to have to go right back to the beginning and start working through it to tighten and make sense. THE GLITCH as you know Col has caused some of my earlier red herrings to become pointless, so I'm going to have to go back and remove/change these.
Thanks to you all for your support. It's great having some cool writers as friends who help out. belive me Col, the few emails helped me a great deal and helped me think through what/where i was going.
Lee good idea about the shelves. You heard of that famous furniture designer Matthew Hilton who occaisionally pops up when my name is googled, well, I wonder if he'd be interested in a joint venutre. Hmmm?