Progress Report! (Or how I learned to love my work again!)

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BABY STEPS!

 

I have been an editor/proof-reader for years and always considered myself reasonably good at my job. I never had any complaints, which is my benchmark for how good you really are. In fact, several Literary Agents complimented me on the quality of our submissions.

English was always my favourite subject and I read a lot of books, but never once considered being a writer. I was far too busy managing Anita’s books, back in the day when manuscripts had to be submitted to agents and publishers in a very particular fashion.

Over the years, we received stacks of very encouraging and favourable letters from both agents and publishers alike, almost leading to publication a couple of times but sadly, despite almost being good enough, Anita was never published.

This might have been why I didn’t think of being a writer, after all, I knew better than most, just how bloody hard it was. But eventually, my muse arrived. This was just after the Kindle phenomena took off. Suddenly, everyone could publish their books on Amazon, and it was supposed to be so easy, anyone could do it.

I have to say, in fairness to all the wonderful writers out there, I did find it very hard to write a full-length book. 70.000 words seemed an impossible target, and I doubted my capabilities every step of the way. That first book taught me so much about plot and dialogue, character arcs and subplots, even though it made my head spin. The day I finished Nine Lives, a sense of achievement crept over me as I realised I had become a writer!

That was in 2014, and I went on to write two more thrillers after that. Most of you will know the fun I have had finding the right covers for my books, but I didn’t worry about the content at all. After all, I checked them for spelling errors and I had my editor head on, so they had to be fine.

Or so I thought.

What happened to make me doubt myself?

I had written a memoir/novella about my fight with breast cancer and published it on Amazon. It received one review that commented on how short it was, and when I took a long hard look at it, I had to agree. Not only was it far too short, it could be a lot better. That was when I knew I would have to check my other books too.

I read Nine Lives again and was shocked at the state of it. Where was all the brilliant writing, the competent editor, the jaw-dropping prose? To say I was disappointed would be putting it mildly, I wanted to crawl away and die. For nearly a week, I battled with unpublishing my books and throwing them away, for the thought of rewriting them seemed an impossible task.

Gradually, common sense prevailed. They were my babies, I was an editor, I could fix this.

One thought kept me going. If I can now recognise the faults in my writing, does that mean I have improved over the years? I am pretty sure I have, for I am looking at my work with a totally different mindset. Most of what I see is amateur, almost childish. There were so many repeated and wimpy words and adjectives by the bucket load. It probably would have been easier to start afresh, but I am nothing if not stubborn, so I have tried to improve all three books, or die trying! They might be the only thing I leave this world to remember me by!

 

The Final Straw…

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The bay windows in our living room have long been a source of annoyance. Over the years, we have had an assortment of curtains and blinds, but none were good enough to pass muster. Every time we walk into the room, our eyes are drawn to the awfulness of it all and the long-standing conversation argument begins again.

Every now and then, we try something new, desperately hoping that this time we will love the result. Personally, I have long given up hoping for a miracle, but have to at least appear enthusiastic and go along with whatever is suggested. After all, I share this house, so don’t always get what I want, even if this is just the semblance of a quiet life!

The first experiment was Venetian blinds in a lovely turquoise colour. As I seem to be the only one in our house that knows which end of a screwdriver to use, it fell to me to install them. This was reasonably difficult and took a while, but eventually, the blinds were installed and in working order.

Trouble was, no one liked them.

It was discovered that an unpleasant optical effect occurred every time you tried to look through them, this effect caused nausea and giddiness so they had to be removed, and in a hurry!

The next exercise in futility was roller blinds. The windows are an odd shape, so buying ready- made blinds were out of the question, and suitable kits were purchased from Amazon, along with spray stiffener for the fabric. We used an old pair of expensive curtains to create the blinds and eventually, after much swearing by yours truly, we had a set of blinds to install.

They had barely been up to the window when we knew we hated them. Probably because I have a wonky eye and can’t cut straight to save my life!

Our next idea involved installing these curtain poles, so we could have eyelet curtains. These always hang so well, so we thought we were on to a winner this time.

I quite liked the first pair we bought, but Anita didn’t. She complained bitterly about the colour/pattern for weeks until I gave in an ordered another pair. When they arrived they were approved of, but the trouble started when I hung them up. One curtain was several inches longer than the other!

If this wasn’t so funny, I would have screamed.

Not a problem, I said… the shop will change them.

But they were temporarily out of stock. We waited patiently, but they didn’t get any more. We talked about lengthening one and shortening the other. Guess who gets that job!

Then I had an idea. I would look elsewhere. And I did. Found a lovely pair online, had them sanctioned by Anita and sent for.

The day they arrived, I carefully ironed them, ready to hang, confident that we had finally nailed the curtain problem. Seconds later, an ear-piercing shriek rents the air, and Anita pointed at the bottom of the curtain, which was floating a good four inches above the window ledge.

My temper lets go and I wanted to rip them to bits. Why was it so ********* difficult to buy a pair of curtains that actually fit?

To cut a long story short, our money was refunded and we could keep the curtains…

Not sure what they thought we could do with them!

I have a feeling that this story will go on forever, or until I lose my mind or move house…

Only you have no idea how hard THAT is!

Help Needed!

I am having trouble making decisions today, so I thought I would ask for some help.

I’m not happy with the cover on my novella, Apple Blossom. The story of fighting my way through Cancer. The one I chose seems to be totally the wrong colour.

But what do you think?

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Original Cover

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New Cover?

 

Thanking you all in advance!  If this gets to be a habit, I may call upon you more often!