Anyone else just waiting for this month to end or is it just me? I am very definitely NOT a winter person, so this final slog towards spring always leaves me bad tempered and emotional and desperate for company while being fully, one hundred percent aware that I’m the person you least want to call for a good time. It’s also my least productive time of year to write, which is what makes it the perfect time for editing, an admittedly self-loathing task where, for the non-writers amongst you, you basically take all the work you did that you thought was great a few weeks or months previous, rip it to pieces at the behest of your agent/publisher/self and try to put it back together again without losing the plot (in both senses of the word). I actually enjoy editing for the first two thirds of a book but by the final furlong the doubt that I have written anything of worth always creeps in and by the end I always assume I’ve made everything ten times worse than it was before. Fortunately this is rarely the case. Editing – especially the final edit before submission – is a vital part of writing where you get to reshape and refine your work. It’s an opportunity to really take a good look at your characters and make sure they make sense and are consistent as well as ensuring they have room to grow. For crime writers, it’s a chance to add or remove red herrings, find places where suspense needs to increase and check that you don’t accidentally reveal how your book is going to end somewhere around chapter eight. For comedy writers, it’s an opportunity to cut gags that aren’t funny but maybe add more humour in places where the ebb and flow of writing requires it. If a book were a piece of music, the final edit before submission is that final dress rehearsal: making sure you aren’t just playing the notes in all the right places, but that you’ve thought about dynamics, ornaments, emotion and nuance, that you know your work back to front and upside down; that you’ll never be more ready to throw it out into the world that you are right now. Of course, this is where the comparison ends… being an author on submission is like playing the concert and then waiting six to eight weeks for applause, if indeed there is any to be had at all!
MARCH BOOK CHOICE:
Two books for this month, because they both deserve celebrating! The winner and runners up of the Comedy Women in Print Prize for 2021, Rebecca Rogers and Hannah Dolby have released two contrasting but equally fun books this month which deserve to go on your TBR pile!
If you like a bit of Terry Pratchett or Hitchhiker’s Guide, then The Purgatory Poisoning could be right up your street. A crime caper set in the afterlife finds Dave having to solve his own murder from his own personal purgatory, St Ives’ youth hostel c. 1992.
No Life For A Lady is a quirky Victorian mystery, centred around a young woman named Viola, who decides she would rather become a detective than marry any one of the young bachelors her father sends her way.
As one of the judges for the CWIP Prize in 2021, I’m extremely proud and excited for Hannah and Rebecca and wish them lots of luck now their book babies are out in the world! Have fun, you witty women!
MARCH TV CHOICE:
Okay – I admit it, my month has been a series of questionable indulgences when it comes to TV viewing. Grey’s Anatomy and Station 19 returned, meaning a happy withdrawal into the comforting world of Shondaland predictability. Chicago Fire is back as well, giving me the opportunity to wonder for the eleventh season in a row how on earth it is still being commissioned (and why I continue to tune in). I binged three series of Jack Ryan which left me befuddled as to whether John Krasinski is a really good actor or dead inside, and also whether anyone, CIA or no, would really be allowed to board a nuclear warship and have a chat to the captain while he prepared to start a war. I feel like this is exactly the sort of thing editors would never let an author get away with, even if it was convenient to the plot. After watching this, I feel fairly strongly that editors of TV shouldn’t be allowed to get away with it either.
Daisy Jones and the Six, currently streaming on Amazon Prime, is far from perfect either. But it’s fun, frothy, drug fuelled nostalgia for the 1970s and a ‘fictional’ (but uncannily reminiscent of Fleetwood Mac) story of the rise and fall of a world famous rock band makes for some serious ‘guilty pleasure’ viewing. I don’t think it’s brilliant: you can’t easily manufacture the magic of the Mac for TV and the whole ‘documentary’ style of the series is spoilt by the lack of any real effort to show the passing of time except for a few terrible wigs. But it has made for a pleasing watch and if you fancy kicking back with something not too awful and not too taxing either, this would be my recommendation.
MY MONTH AHEAD:
Well, mainly I’m celebrating it not being winter anymore! But my main excitement for this month is attending the Comedy Women in Print Awards, which I’m very much looking forward to. Fortunately, I’m off on holiday the week before, which means I will be able to read the shortlist of published novels before I hit up the party! Bring it on, April….