Monday, 29 June 2009

What I Did On My Holidays

I've always had a theory that if I had a writing desk with a sea view, it would help my writing. There's something about being by the sea which makes the inside of my head expand. I've never lived anywhere with a sea view and wasn't sure whether the whole thing was just a fantasy. So over the last couple of weeks I've called my own bluff. And, blow me down, it worked like a charm.

Here's my view, at medium tide:


I didn't know, before I went to north Devon, that the Bristol Channel has the second highest tidal range in the world (and now I know so much about it that I've become a Severn bore). At low tide the water was right out by the end of the little headland you can see on the right, and at high tide it was so far in that I couldn't see the beach at all. I sat at the table, with my laptop and my notes and my tea, for around six hours most days, and wrote, and edited, and planned, and restructured, and watched the tide come in and go out, and thought, and imagined, and dreamed.

I'd done most of the new writing and substantial rewriting before I went, so I started with an edit. During the edit, I realised that because I'd put it back into multiple POV the timeline needed urgent attention, so I made a spreadsheet and entered all the scenes with their dates/times. The first 20 or so scenes were fine, then the next 60-odd were most emphatically not fine at all, they were all over the place. So I sorted out the order, but then all the links were messed up, and now some stuff was happening in the wrong order, e.g. someone having their first day at a new job before they had the interview for the post, or in the wrong kind of timescale, e.g. someone's first month of pregnancy happening over the same time period as someone else's first week at work. Aarrgghh!!!

Luckily I enjoy this kind of mental jigsaw puzzle work, although it was much MUCH easier because I had the time and the headspace. On the very last day of my holiday I nailed the draft, woo hoo for me! It's gone to readers now, and I feel more confident about it than I have done for ages, although that may change when I get their feedback.

I did some fun stuff too, including meeting a couple of lovely bloggers, so I'll tell you about that in my next post.

8 comments:

Lane said...

Now THAT'S why I want a sea view!

What a wonderfully productive holiday.

PI said...

It does look divine you shameless punster you! And congrats on all you have accomplished. Rather you than me with the mental jigsaw puzzle but I know it's meat and drink to you.
Aware you were clogged with emails I refrained. Stuff's happening - back on the big dipper.

HelenMHunt said...

Brilliant. I'm just about to start my 'week off to write' and you've inspired me! I can't afford to go to the sea, so I'll be sitting in my conservatory.

Queenie said...

Lane, it was absolutely that.
PI, email, email!!
Helen, you go, girl, get those words written!

Carol said...

No wonder you were inspired...that view is phenomenal!! (I do love the sea!!)

Congratulations on getting your draft done...it sounds like the holiday was exactly what you needed!!

Looking forward to hearing about your meeting with bloggy friends :-)

C x

Beleaguered Squirrel said...

Wow, I am very impressed that you achieved so much. That kind of redrafting is extremely hard work. I've done this before - going away for time on my own to write (although I've only ever managed one week, rather than two). I always achieve a lot, but it's never as much as I anticipate. I yearn for quiet uncluttered headspace, but even when I'm in a cottage in the middle of nowhere, I get distracted and struggle to be completely disciplined. But then, I already know you have majorly impressive discipline and willpower!

Queenie said...

Carol, thank you - I'll write that up in a day or two, promise!
BS: you are a sweetie, and it was largely witnessing your experience of doing this that inspired me to give it a go.

womagwriter said...

Welcome back! Sea views do it for me, too. Distant horizons calm me.

Well done on completing the draft!