Ghosts in the Pages

Well I didn’t post yesterday as I spent most of the day editing the first work I’m aiming to self-publish…. a novel on the early life of Elizabeth I called The Bastard Princess. Its the first one I want to take into the self-publishing arena, but it wasn’t the first one I wrote. Oddly enough the first book I ever wrote is still awaiting completion. It was about Anne Boleyn, Elizabeth I’s mother and although I always knew she would have to die (I prefer historical fiction with an emphasis on the historical) I had real issues killing her off.

Perhaps one day when I argue with my partner about his snoring I’ll be in a suitably murderous mood to finish that book….

But the Bastard Princess was a story I was rather proud of, and the sequels in the series, of which there are two more presently with another three planned, continued to grow well. I liked the voice I found for Elizabeth and not far into the first book was overcome by the uncanny feeling that I was not in fact making up the story, but that I was merely writing down what the characters themselves dictated to me. Sounds nuts? Perhaps. but whenever a book is going well for me, that’s the feeling I get. I am not the author anymore, the characters are driving the ship and I am simply along for the ride.

But whilst I love, love, love the first draft….I don’t really like editing, this much I have come to see. I don’t think I’m very good at it, I get easily distracted by the story and find myself reading rather than actually watching for mistakes….I think others may agree, editing your own works is pretty hard.

The main issue I think it that when you are reading what are in reality, your own thoughts, your brain is more than happy to fill in the gaps for you. You fail to see mistakes because your brain knows what should be there, the brain knows what you meant and so that’s what it shows you and that’s what you see; little ghosts hiding in the shadows of the sentences…all sent there by your brain, showing you what you want to see rather than what is actually there.

Its a fantastical nightmare really, you cant stop the brain showing you the little ghosts, but you cant see past them to visualize what is really there.

It comes to something when your own brain works against you…I spend a lot of time writing about traitors…in Tudor historical fiction they are a pretty important part of every story! But having your own brain work against you when you really need it the most…most infuriating.

Which brings me to the second point of the day on editing; yesterday I gained an editor; a friend who has worked in the publication and editorial business and is willing at a much reduced fee to help me in my ambition to get into self-published print. She’s off to Peru tomorrow, but this will not stop us now that we are dedicated to the task! Thank goodness for email, it looks like I’m in for a busy time this month. I will be writing new stuff for Wattpad, but I have a lot of edited material to get to my new editor.

(The last sentence makes me feel all grown up…*smile*)

Dystopia

Well I’m starting the year watching World War Z…not the first time I’ve watched the film and certainly not the last.

 

It seems oddly fitting to start a new year watching a fictional dystopia of the destruction of the known world. I enjoy dystopian fiction, I wrote one myself in fact, available to read for free on my Wattpad page, entitled Farm Land. There is something captivating in imagining the end of all that we know and all we understand to be true about the world.

But there is something else within the genre I love even more, for just as the Nordic myths understood that the end of all things is also a beginning of something new, so does dystopian fiction. In the midst of destruction there lies creation; as the old world dies so a new one is born.

Many people choose to scoff at Science Fiction and its associated platforms. When I studied English Literature there were some who distinguished between literature with a capital L and literature with a little l, often snobbishly including Science Fiction in the “little l” category. But to me it is not the genre of a school of writing which denotes its value; it is the writing, and good writing will always be worthy of a capital L, no matter what the subject or the ideas.

I find Science Fiction and dystopian imaginings fascinating because they allow us to reform our world, reflect on our goods and evils and re-discover those qualities of ourselves we perhaps think are lost within lives spent in office blocks or family lives. We once were survivors. We were warriors. We succeeded so well that we came to dominate the planet and its other creations. But somewhere still within us are the traits of those warriors and survivors, and viewing our future as one where the world we know and understand can fall apart, allows us to see the possibility within us.

Imagine the world has been lost to you…what would you make of your life in a new world?

what might you find yourself capable of in that brave new world?

The Stillness of New Year’s Morning

I think the still quiet on the morning of New Year’s day is something I feel rather than hear. I lay in bed, the dog snoring at my side, my partner buried under the covers, the cat having snuck into the middle of the bed purring away happily, and no matter what the weather or the reality of the day…it feels still, calm, thoughtful.

Perhaps it is, as a feeling often is, just my own mind imposing itself on the world. I’m sure, in reality the world is anything but still…everywhere there are people making breakfast, wondering what they did last night. There are parents busy nursing brutal hangovers whilst trying to deposit young children in front of various films in a vain effort to have just a moments peace. There are those who refused the drink and wake refreshed to go out walking at 6am and shout a “Happy New Year” to others in a most Victorian tv-movie-type way. And all around the world there are far less happy events as wars continue to be fought, people continue to live in fear of the one they live with, and abuse of each other, of other animals and of the planet rages polluting our souls and disgracing the name of humanity.

Perhaps its just me, but I don’t think I am that special and unusual to be unique in this…but on the first day of the New Year I cant help but feel a little thoughtful, a little hopeful that this year might be better than those which have come before…not just for me, but for all of us. I feel a little wistful, a little excited and simultaneously a little downcast, thinking on what might have been but never was…

Perhaps the day feels still to me because it is a pause before we enter the year, a moment to draw breath before we leap into our new plans and hopes and dreams. On the first day of the New Year there is nothing which has failed, no dreams which have been broken…there is hope for all resolutions and rejuvenation.

So perhaps it is fitting that today I signed up to assign my random thoughts to this blog. Fitting that I decided to this year plunge into the waters of self-publishing and see if others might love what I love to write about.

In the stillness of possibility I lay, hoping that this year I will have the courage of spirit to bring my ambitions to life.

To all of you I wish a happy new year. To all of you I wish for a moment of stillness on this first day of the year to consider what you want it to bring you; peace, happiness, sex, friendship, love, safety, charity, self-belief, recognition…whatever it is and whatever your dreams I hope this is a good year for you.