I find myself in a kind of curious stasis, as regards Far From the Tree and Sweeter than Cider. The former is in the midst of a process that started in January, and, at the moment, its destiny isn’t something I can influence – it all depends on how much it’s liked by others! As for the latter, with November and NaNoWriMo rapidly approaching, I’m beginning to wonder if maybe getting another 50k on it in thirty days might be the way to getting that pesky first draft done. At the moment it’s rather stubbornly sitting at 50,000 words, around 42% of the story, and, while I know roughly what’s going to happen and when, it’s a question of getting it committed to Scrivener.
So what are the contrasts between writing FFTT and STC, then? How come I managed to get FFTT’s first draft (of 140,000 words, no less) completed in seven months, whereas SWC is taking that much longer? Well, there are a number of reasons. In no particular order, here they are:
- FFTT started with a character; Matthew ‘Lord Fancy Pants’ Carter. He walked into my head on January 15th 2014 and refused to move. I knew everything about him, pretty much straight away, and he whispered in my ear continuously. He needed me to tell the story of his past, his present and his future. This time around, my main focus is Jonathan, Matthew’s younger brother. He’s a different kettle of fish. I know Jonathan well; he has a pretty significant role in FFTT, and the challenge for me is to tell his story, post FFTT, and make it fresh and original. Or at the very least, interesting. He, like the Cheshire Cat, will stroll into my brain, have a sniff around, curl up for a while, but then, when I least expect it, he’ll vanish leaving nothing but a grin. He’s much more difficult to pin down because while he shares the same yearning as Matthew for love, his nature sometimes works against him, and he can’t quite shake off his bad habits. Smug, infuriating, drop dead gorgeous, clever, witty, gifted (with the gab), capricious…I’m having trouble catching him!
- I’ve spent a lot of time this year submitting FFTT to literary agents, a process that started in February, and ended when I was offered representation by Keane Kataria Literary Agency in the late summer/early autumn. So, alongside writing STC, I’ve been writing query letters, researching agents, writing synopses of various lengths and focussing on the sale aspect of the first one. The waiting game has taken its toll on my process for the second book, and may well do for a little longer, although I am getting back into the swing of things now!
- I actually need to do a bit more homework for the second book. There are business and procedural things I need to check out, as well as ironing out some of the historical details for the starting point of the novel, and how these impact and resonate later on in the book. This is mainly a question of collaring the right people for a conversation, but that’s taking some time!
- At the moment, I can’t think of anything else except for the next step in FFTT’s life away from me!
So, now all of those excuses are out of the way, I have just under a month to get back into gear for NaNoWriMo. I think November might be just the kick I need!
In other news, I was over the moon with the results of a photo shoot by the lovely Carly of Ol’Bird Photography after my agent requested a picture for their website. Carly achieved the impossible, and actually made me look good in a photograph! There are a couple on the site, and here are the rest: