I am moved by Lady Percy 's expression of love. CLICK HERE - see if you agree.
Otherwise my novels, short stories, verse, family, music, memories, vulgar interests, detestations,
responses, apologies. I hold posts to 300 words* having found less is better than more.
I re-comment on comments and re-re-re-comment on re-re-comments.
* One exception: short stories.

Monday, 27 April 2015

"Still scribbling, Mr Gibbon?"

Finished my fourth novel, Second Hand, yesterday. "Finished" is a relative term; yet to come are read-throughs, partial rewrites and corrections. But Second Hand exists as a story if only a rough-draft.

The greatest thrill came not from recording the last word (already rewritten several times) but during the final half-chapter when what remained of the plot was quite clear and only needed transcribing.

Now comes the difficult task of finding someone capable of reading the MS and saying whether it's worth a damn. Joe, alas, has other commitments.

I started writing novels seriously in late 2009, the first progress report appearing in my blog, Works Well, on October 31. Two-and-a-bit chapters of what became Gorgon Times. Chronologically the novels are:

Gorgon Times (103,903 words)
Out Of Arizona, née Risen On Wings (115,913 words)
Blest Redeemer (138,383 words)
Second Hand (86,673 words).

More recently I've written twenty-six short stories, most of which have appeared in Tone Deaf. The combined wordage for novels and stories comes to 488,729 over 67 months: an average output of 7294 words/month.

Plus 1093 300-word posts over a slightly longer period: 327,900 words at 3903 words/month.

Plus (much less seriously) 10 ABAB-quatrain pieces of verse, 37 sonnets and one (lonely) villanelle.

I’ve used figures hoping they might seem impressive; there is of course no way of quantifying worth. Sixty-seven months isn’t a long apprenticeship, many authors have devoted more to writing a single novel. But then not many were foolish enough to have started so late: 72 in my case. For what it’s worth I believe I write better than I used to but I’d bloody well hope so. More to come? It sort of depends…


  1. "...sort of depends..."

    Upon what?

  2. Four chapters into OOA....I can't keep up. I am greatly enjoying it, by the way, and I am highly impressed. It occurred to me that I might be biased...what if I didn't know you? Would I still be impressed with your writing? Occurrence continued...I only know you AT ALL from your written word. Congrats on the finish!

  3. Crow: It's called maintaining narrative tension. A writerly device. Salesmen wear 1-ft wide bow-ties for much the same reason.

    MikeM: And the same is true from my end. You may remember how we "met". You'd left a comment with Beth and she suggested to me we might have interests in common. So it turned out, since I was trying to compensate for the rate of attrition that tends to befall people who read my blog for more than six months. I think we know each other in areas where it matters - subjects which are amenable to written expression. It was some time before I learned for sure that you were a working stiff and just didn't have time for my grandiose plans that you give everything else up and go in for writing big time.

    The relationship potters along.

    Knowing and not knowing. The former played one very important role - you bought the book. That might not have happened had I been totally anonymous. I'm grateful for that.

    And I'm glad you liked the finish. Of all the stuff I've written I have a mystical almost sentimental attachment to that short final sentence. For me it has just the right degree of indirectness to round out the book. But how bizarre I should make claims that it's in any way good writing. It arrived complete and unbidden. OK, I'd put myself in a position where I could use it. Then Zap! Pure luck.

  4. Thankfully your reply falls short of being a "spoiler". I was congratulating you on the finish of your latest novel, not the close of OOA. I'm only just about to meet Octavien's dad. However magical the close of OOA is I'm sure I will quickly feel the letdown that comes when one knows a grand experience has ended. I will be savoring every page and passage, eager for the next but not keen to finish.

  5. I hope more to come, plenty more! Particularly interested in this one as I am currently feeling impressed with my 47,000 words and am, just as you described, happy that I know that the end is nigh. You warned me about rewriting/reviewing/reshaping, about the end being the beginning. I was not happy at the time, but I have recently discovered that rewriting is a much more fun element than the actual first writing. You have something to work with, to play around with - thank goodness, though, for computers!

  6. MikeM: I doubt a reader would find the ending of OoA magical (I'm talking only about four words), apt and/or ambiguous are more likely responses. For me, as we say about a glass of booze or a cup of coffee, it hit the spot. The book had reached its natural ending and with it the long, complicated - but rewarding - relationship I'd had with Jana. You might even say the end of a love affair.

    Blonde Two: There's a mort (obsol. but worthwhile nevertheless) of good sense in what you say here. "The end is nigh" is a source of great comfort as one senses that an infinity of options is falling away, the writing is becoming simpler and easier to fashion, and you've kept faith with yourself and (ultimately) the reader by bringing the story to an end. Editing, compared with writing, can be a delight and in two or three days I've got through almost a third of the revising of Second Hand. Of course, I shall re-read it many more times but I'm relieved that various scenes I dimly remembered, and which I worried might seem randomly inserted, do in fact fit in.

    As to the computer - the perfect editing tool - I regularly kneel before its altar.

  7. As long as there's quality ale in the world, I'm hoping for more quality writing to complement it. More, dear Robbie, more please!