In My Wildest Dreams: Adventures in Children's Fiction






Good intentions and inventions.

I haven't quite started back to writing this morning, but I have made a decision about beginning. I have scribbled a note on my mouse mat note pad (a very useful addition to my desktop).
It is the opening scene of the book. I am returning to the bridge where Steve and Pricey took their annual photograph (or failed to) in Badgerman & Bogwitch. The new novel is not a sequel, but I am returning to my roots and the writing I feel most comfortable with, the 10-12 age group.

I am taking another look at a first draft I completed about three years ago, and set aside until I fancied revisiting it. In truth, the ending hadn't quite worked out as I wanted it. Now I know what sort of book it is and where the story should go. It will all happen back in the Ramswold Valley of Badgerman & Bogwitch. After all that is where I live too.

What I shall do with The Reaping, I am not sure. I think I may change the title to The Reckoning. It is an uncomfortable and controversial book. It may become a full blown adult novel, rather than YA. I am surprised by the silence from some agents regarding its submission. It probably just got lost in the email. At some point I shall put it up online, if not as publication, as curation.

The Tall Story of Tobias Small is out there being read by an agent and a publisher (I hope. It is easier to lose an attachment than a paper MS! I should live in London, dye my hair and blag my way into parties!)

And the Key to Finlac, that book I started twenty years ago, that is 90,000 words in length (far too long), that I began to revise? I think it is my great white whale. I am still chasing it. It will be my life's work. It will be completed. I know what form it will take. I just have to finish writing it.

But there is always something new to do. Writing is the thing...

(A postscript to the above: I had an email from the agent in question this afternoon, whilst I was sitting on Cheltenham Promenade drinking coffee in the shade. 'A' took the time to write to me in detail, which is not the norm. She liked 'Tobias Small', but thought the reading level/tone was a little too sophisticated for 10-12 yrs. I am not so sure. It is an interesting debate, which perhaps I shall blog about in the the not too distant future. Still, 'A' was very nice to me and sincere, so that's all right with me!)

Yes, writing is the thing!
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What I learned from the wind in the willows.

I have been working this afternoon though you wouldn't think it from looking at me lounged alternately on the sofa in the conservatory and flopped on the bean bag, half in the house and half out in the sun. If my landscape is like The Wind in the Willows, then spring has come late for this particular myopic observer of the world. I have put on my glasses, picked up my broom, set it down again and made space for myself to think. So I have been working. (I could never convince my late mother that lazing on a bean bag constituted hard labour but that's another story, like spending the early nineteen seventies doing my dancing lying down.)

I have made more  decisions about my work in progress:

The Key to Finlac, overlong and in two halves, is like conjoined but not identical twins. I shall risk an attempt at separation in the optimistic belief that they will both survive. After all they both have a head and a heart. I know what future I would like for them both. It is just a question of nurturing them so they both go on to thrive.

As for The Tall Story of Tiberius Small, if I fail to find an agent, I shall publish it myself as an ebook and have no qualms about it. I might even do it under a pseudonym. At least it will be out there rather than in the way, and I had a good time writing it, a few laughs in the process.

I have no excuses then. I know where my four MSS (now that The Key to Finlac has become two) are heading

Time to get my backside off the bean bag, pick up the broom and sniff the air. ... that way more ideas will come.

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Forensics: Getting to the Truth of the Story

Forensic has popped into my head this morning. Slow, methodical, painstaking work to analyse what has happened. What exactly is the truth of the story I have written? As another person, I have to go back to the scene and find out what really occurred there. What is still to be discovered?

I have begun re-writing, The Key to Finlac, opening the book with an entirely new episode involving a character I knew little about before. And as I'm discovering, I had not properly explored and explained the world she inhabits. I have been looking for clues - trace evidence - and putting a credible scenario together to present to the reader.

It is delicate work, tricky in that I have to tread carefully so as not to destroy or contaminate that which needs to be preserved.

Without all the pieces, those already logged and those freshly seen, the story cannot be rightly told.
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Revising the Novel: to slash or burn?

Not so much slash and burn as letting light into the wood.  I have chopped and cut, cleared away the underbrush and stacked the timber. Sunshine is streaming through the new leaves. A Wood Warbler sings. The coppice is ready for new growth

By painstakingly listing the scenes in each chapter of the first 45,000 words of the book, I have found a way of losing at least 30,000 words, whilst retaining the heart of the story. It already looks better.

The remaining half of the plantation looks healthier, but it could still do with some more light and colour. I shall tackle that tomorrow.

Then the rewriting begins.
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