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Island Life, Word Birds & Process #18

Summer mist imitates autumn making me realise how close the end of the season is. Earlier, from my bedroom window, it was a proper Island Life scenario: the hills draped with mist, a sense of dream-like isolation. I drank tea with Virginia Woolf, reluctant to get out of bed.

book VW

Now the sun is abroad, mocking my attempt at authenticity. Frankly, I wasn’t up early enough and the moment has passed. Unlike the weather, the Word Birds don’t vary their activity. They flutter and chatter, a constant murmuration of ideas. Draft three is upon me, dear reader – Process by another name. After a meeting with my mentor and editor, I am filled with joy at the prospect of a fairly intense rewrite of my second book. Weird maybe, but believe me, I mean it.

Janet never tells me what to write, she shows me my real story. It’s a magical process, a conversation driven by enquiries about my intention with regard to this or that character, and their intentions. I am never preached at – I’m asked why and it makes me think and dig dip. And now I have it – the story beneath so to speak – the  one I’m meant to be writing.

After the editorial lunch (I know – indulge me!) the process continued into the following morning, and my bath. (I have a lot of light bulb moments in the bath.) What pleases me most is that although Janet enabled me to see my story more clearly, in the aftermath I’ve worked out another lush strand which could become a recurring motif. One thing follows another and the story unfolds some more.

And at the risk of banging on – this is why writers need editors. Their job is to see what we miss. Not because we’re thick but because we’re often held too preciously in the original story vision. Editors are like school teachers. They dish out homework and if we do it we stand a better chance of passing the exam.

September is my favourite month. It’s the start of autumn and for me the best time to settle into a new writing project. Next Thursday is the first day of the month and it’s a new moon too. I’m taking a day or two to fix the domestic chaos, and write a new outline. Then I’m off into Draft Three with more excitement than I can adequately describe.

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