I admit it. I fucked up! I got premature. I rushed.
It’s easily done. You write your first draft, it reads good, you think that’s it. It’s only much later when you reread earlier work amidst the frustration and anger of constant rejection that you realise… I’m shit!
It took having someone with real talent looking over what I thought was my best editing effort before realising what a fuck-up illiterate tool I am.
Now I understand I have to go back and do all those things the ‘how to write a novel’ advisory wankers told me in the first place if I’d only not been so arrogant as to to believe I could do without their advice.
I thought I had edited.
I thought I had rewritten.
I thought when the book said rewrite, check, recheck, re rewrite, that was for lesser talents than myself.
It appears I was a fuckwit.
I am currently editing, rewriting, rewriting, editing, rewriting, checking one of my earliest novels and guess what, the whole thing is a pile of shite and all because I didn’t try hard enough, didn’t check over and over until exhausted by the process.
When this bitch is ready to go online again this time I will know that it can’t be slagged for poor grammar, that if there’s a simile, metaphor, a better way of writing a piece of dialogue, in fact ANY enhancement I could have added, or indeed taken away, to contribute something to the text I will at least have considered it and dismissed the idea to the point that every full stop, comma but especially possessive apostrophe will have been mulled and checked at least a dozen times.
Finally, I’m a proper writer who checks and edits to the standard I should have fulfilled in the beginning. No shortcuts, no ego, no arrogance. I now understand exactly how little talent I have. I get that the first draft is a sketch which needs continuous working and reworking to bring to fruition. I know when to walk away, that nothing is ever going to be finished or good enough.
The trouble is, along with the urge to become better now there’s a nagging doubt that I’ll never be good enough. I wonder if being an egotistical ass might be more conducive to at least getting the first drafts on paper as I’ve ground to a halt on the latest because I now don’t think I’m capable of pulling it off (ooh doctor!) and I haven’t been able to start a new novel for precisely the same reason that I’ve managed to convince myself I’ll probably get partway through only to drop the Mutha because I’ve lost confidence.
Writing! What a bitch piss fucker of a nightmare.
Wish I was talented.
Ex-reform school kid thinks he’s a writer only to discover that he’s actually incompetent when it comes to some of the basics. Am now going back through a recently edited novel to put the capitals back on the east and west words that I took them off of.
I also discovered that there are different uses for practice and practise.
If you write the other’s helmet, there IS a possessive apostrophe.
If you use a quote there IS a capital letter inside the quote marks.
Maybe getting kicked out of school and reading loads hasn’t actually helped my writing skills at all. Maybe I need to learn all that shit that normal people just know before I write anything else?
Embarrassing? Yep, just a little.
I’m now having to go through everything I’ve written checking every word for mistakes. Humbling considering I thought I was the shit for finishing a few books! I’ve come to realise I’m not THE shit, I am, just, shit!
Poorly educated, I know lots of big words but if you don’t know how to put them together it doesn’t mean a thing. Nearly five years I’ve been at this and I still can’t produce anything without help. Luckily Hache (professional proofreader) checked some of my work so now I at least know where I’ve gone wrong. Wish I could afford to employ someone cleverer than me to go through everything but I’d still prefer to actually understand it all myself.
That’s what happens when you rush.
The cliche is apparently there’s a book in everyone. I don’t think so. Most people don’t know how to spell their name let alone enough to write a novel and edit it.
Apologies, from now on everything I publish will be up to the standard expected before it goes online. Jeeeeez! Whaaaaat a dumbo?
Somewhere between 3 to 5 hours to edit one chapter….
I wish I’d taken notice of when I actually started because it is astonishing when you start to add up the time exactly how long it takes to create a novel. The initial story is one thing, it’s the tweaking, the grammar, all the little additions that take the time to get it, just so. The reader, of course, won’t notice. They’ll happily read a page totally oblivious to the amount of stress that went into producing that short piece of the story but they would definitely notice if all the little extras weren’t there and that is the reason us pedantic perfectionists go back again and again checking and refining over and over just to be sure.
I have to be honest. When I started out I thought those things weren’t important. I arrogantly thought I could bang a novel off, check it a couple of times and that was it: bestseller!
Hmmmm, what do I know? It turns out that because of my misspent schooldays I know nothing like as much about English as I thought. Yes, I can write but the details of grammar, even simple things like some capitals and when to use possessive apostrophes were way beyond my reading-books-by-‘proper’-authors learnt education. It was only after having my work critiqued by a proofreader that I found out exactly how little my half-an-education-ex-reform-school-thicko education was letting me down. Arrogance and a vague ability to tell a story aren’t going to make up for being a dumbo unfortunately so now I have to go over every word, every comma, like a proper author rather than thinking I’m too smart for that level of investment in my ‘art’.
The difference is astonishing. The fact is that the few novels I’ve brought up to standard are now good enough for English teachers and other novelists to read without me having to worry I’ll be unveiled as the oik I undoubtedly am. Whether it will help me sell a million is another matter but at least if I do have any success I, hopefully, won’t get ridiculed for spelling necessary wrongly or forgetting my mother’s possessive apostrophe.
Of course if you have actually finished school these things are no doubt taken for granted. One day maybe I won’t have to spend so much time going back over my mistakes but for now it’s a steep learning curve.
Hopefully Tales of Tatta will be back on my webpage all spangly, with lots of fresh exciting prose and metaphors, similes and cliches, correctly updated and grammarified in a few weeks.
So my youngest was 23 today. (1/10/14)
For some bizarre reason I was up til gone 4am last night…
Naiomi was born at 3:45ish resulting in the beginning of ‘those’ sleepless nights which I’m not convinced you ever really recover from. Anyway, as usual, I found myself running through those now-tarnished memories of the whole thing. The moment of realisation, the rush to get the car, the ‘oh God! my waters have broken’ etc etc until that bizarre moment when this tiny, odd-looking creature emerges and suddenly every thought, every emotion, every follow-on thought from that moment on changes, for – e – ver !
It’s now over twenty one years since my gorgeous, precious, perfect child was cut from me, torn from my embrace, a gaping hole left where love had been expected to thrive forever, such a feeling of contentment, the most intense emotion I have ever felt, irreplaceable, to be displaced within her mother’s court-protected, signed, sealed, solicitor-endorsed bosom where she could be indoctrinated with the filth and hatred of someone who played such a tiny yet crucial part in my history. As if betrayal wasn’t enough…she had to take the one thing I couldn’t live without.
We did briefly have contact, online, around five years ago but the intervening years haven’t done my case any good. Naiomi ‘didn’t want to establish a relationship with me’.
I, of course, plead not guilty to any charge of misconduct. My ex had an affair. I have not/would not/will never indulge in subterfuge or violence where the female is concerned but regardless, my part in my daughter’s life has been reconfigured to that of sperm donor and apparent miscreant, an undesirable with nothing to offer.
The truth is that after so many years of character assassination and the debilitating effects of the chronic depression I’ve suffered ever since (I was, probably still am, totally unable to cope with the separation.) I finally came to the conclusion some years ago that my best option was to keep a distance until Naiomi, hopefully, decided to come and find me.
Well, that didn’t work out so well!
I had quite a serious breakdown not long after reluctantly breaking contact with her. My youngest sort-of-step-daughter, Natalie, was sectioned not long after (we think it’s undiagnosed schizophrenia) and to my shame I began to fall apart some months later. Recognising the signs I managed to settle my affairs and escape back here to the Isle of Wight but; well, things are better now; for me. Natalie’s never coming back, at least not the girl I knew. So, I lost another one and to top if off her elder sister is having problems with heroin so I’ve lost her too, temporarily I hope.
No such thing as happy endings. It’s good to know Naiomi’s healthy and she appears to be living a good life, boyfriend, friends, all the usual stuff. You never know, one day she might find out the truth but I’m not sure it matters any more. Eventually there comes a point where too much time has passed, too many negatives build up to be resolved easily plus I have to remind myself I’m not stable enough to deal with the stress these days. The pills work but the darkness is always in my peripheral vision. Those that matter understand.
I just hope she continues to enjoy every moment. There’s a lot of good stuff going on, I remind myself every day.
I write: I attempt poetry and use my experiences in my novels to inform my readers of shared emotions, the ups and downs everyone has to face and there are a lot of people far worse off than I am.
I have no doubt she had a happy birthday: good. That is a good thing.