On Writing

Back on the book, burning 850 calories and doing an outreach shift- a highly productive Tuesday

So, as the title says- it’s been a good Tuesday.

I’m slightly regretting pushing it so hard at the gym though, as I’m doing an outreach shift tonight so probably won’t get to bed before 1am. My legs are already beginning to feel a little bit stiff, and I have a feeling I’m gonna need a helluva lot of coffee to stay upright and focused tonight.

Luckily I’m somewhat of a side-kick on these shifts. I’m always working with someone much more experienced than I am, who basically takes control of where we go and which people we choose to search for. Outreach shifts cannot be run by a single person, as it’s not deemed to be safe; so I’m the second person who is ultimately there to make up the numbers.

This is fine though; it makes sense for the more experienced person to lead the evening, and I’m happy to be helping out as much as I can, and of course I am learning all that I can along the way from the person I’m with.

It also means I can get away with being a little bit stiff and a little bit sleepy.. as I’m not having to do too much actual thinking or planning!

But it’s been a productive day. I haven’t been to the gym in about a month, and although the diet has been ticking along nicely without the help of exercise, it felt really good to work up a proper sweat again. That endorphine rush is always the best kind of rush, and it always goes so far to relax me and get me back into a good head space again.

I might regret it tomorrow; when I wake up and can’t move.. but if I manage to lose a lb or two it will have been worth it.

I also went back to the book today, after spending two weeks focusing on the blog. I hit 130 views on Saturday, which is my highest in one day so far, and a satisfying validation of all my efforts over the last two weeks.

I’ve probably put in about 40 hours of work a week, over the last two weeks; and whilst it’s been great to chat to and connect with so many new people, I couldn’t keep putting that much time into the blog.

Ru and I went to a Q&A session at Foyles a couple of weeks back, with two editors from the publishing group Mantle; and one of the questions which was asked was really pertinent to what I’m doing atm. Somebody asked, “how important are social media platforms and online support to an author who is looking to be published?”

The answer was what I expected: “online support is all well and good; but if the book sucks it doesn’t matter if you have a million twitter followers and 25,000 people who follow your blog- the book will still suck, and therefore likely won’t get published!”

So I knew, although it has been so much fun working on the blog- I needed to go back to the book, and start focusing my full time and attention there again. I volunteer atm on Mondays and Thursdays, and so the other days are mine to work with, and today has been the first full day I’ve spent working on my book in just under 3 weeks.

It’s been good. I feel like I’ve gained some perspective, and was able to find ways out of the ruts I had been stuck in before I started working on the blog. I was stuck with two chapters, and was struggling to work out how to get my message across in each of them; they were similar, but with slight differences, and I was having problems differentiating between the two of them.

I have realised, looking back over them with fresh eyes, that I have been doing a lot of telling, where showing would be much more effective. This is such a common piece of writing advice, and a mantra which I was already aware of: show don’t tell! However I didn’t realise before that this was where I was tripping up.

Instead of trying to explain my points, I am going to use stories and anecdotes to convey them more effectively.

This will hopefully make distinguishing the differences between them easier, as I will be able to use anecdotes to illustrate the individual points and arguments I am making, instead of just reason and rhetoric. I find telling stories a lot easier than expounding logic!

So this is what I am going to start working on again tomorrow. I managed to work out my chapter order for the first section today as well, and got a bit of a handle of the main underlying points which each one would contain. I feel a lot more on top of the whole thing again.. as previously it had felt like it was swamping and getting on top of me a little bit.

I’m still slightly worried about the word count, and the fact that the whole thing may still end up being too long, but I guess I’ll just have to continue to factor that into my thinking, and hope that it’ll become clear as I move forward where chapters and sections could be cut out. I still aim for the completed book to be about 50,000 words, and atm it is at 90,000- so I still have a lot of work ahead of me on that front.

Anyway! Enough of that for now; I need to go and make coffee and get ready for my outreach shift. Hopefully we will be able to find some people tonight and convince them to come in off the streets and move into the hostels.

I just really hope that I manage to stay awake long enough to give them a wave and a smile as it happens!

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