Sunday 21 February 2021

Writing and not writing: Day 5

I wake at 5 but stay in bed looking at Facebook till 6 because the heating hasn't come on and I don't want to get up in the cold. Bad start. I could just turn the heating on — I can even do it from my phone lying in bed. I get up, make coffee, faff about with this blog, move a few things around the house that MB has displaced — and suddenly it's nearly 8. Aaargh. Today I have to get lots done as MB is back tomorrow. It's very obvious which task is most urgent: the one I least want to do. Isn't that always the case? Today's opera from the Met is Don Giovanni. I will have to work through it at least four times. 

Biting the bullet, I try writing sample material for the book I've left too long. Within half an hour I realise how seriously I've misjudged this project. It's in a format I'm not used to, comic strips. I'd struggled to fill my very, very rough outline of the plot with enough detail to fill 96 pages. Now as I draft scamps* and dialogues for the first pages, I can see I've tried to get about three times as much into each spread as will fit. My first scamp is hopelessly optimisitc. I opt for just writing the dialogue and scamping from that. My response to the editor saying the book could be 96 or 128 pages, whichever I liked, reverses. I'd been keen to get away with 96 as I thought even that would be a stretch. Now, 128 looks like a squeeze. This might take a big re-think. I decide to stop for breakfast. Greek yoghurt, raspberries, seeds and nuts. I'd like to walk to Waitrose to buy some marzipan and make marzipan llamas, but this is clearly displacement activity. Back to the scamps.

More scamps, then Zoom call to elderly dad who has somehow managed to break Zoom so there's no sound. We end up talking on the phone while looking at each other on screen. After a bit of faffing about on Facebook I go back to the scamping. Just before stopping for lunch I realise I've planned the wrong number of pages in some chapters anyway. I always mess up the number of spreads in a book. Even in picture books sometimes, and they only have 12-14, depending on the publisher. I can't fathom why this is. I can definitely count to 96 and even to 128.

By 1:30 it seems as though the comic-strip book is do-able and the outline sortable — preferably today, but I can't be sure of that. I stop to answer a dino query and then decide, as it's sunny, to go outside for a bit. Too much sitting at the desk has given me a bit of a hip problem so some walking around will be good. 

I move logs around to allow the snowdrops space. Then I spot a suspicioius looking character wandering around the field next to my house so I fix him with a steely glare until he comes over to talk to me. He is an officer from the council, checking up on their. I fail to persuade him to plant a community orchard there, and go back inside to answer some dino queries. Instead, I start Googling 'guerilla orchard' to see if there is any advice on planting a community orchard without permission. Dino queries done, it's a trip to Waitrose, dinner, and to bed early as MB has been rescheduled for 7:20 am and I need to work before she gets here. Not done as much work as I should have done by a long way, but at least the naughty outline is starting to take shape.

Achievements: answered dino queries, begun to conquer the comic-strip outline, collected many dead leaves and snapped up some dead wood, cleared logs out of the way of the snowdrops, blocked a rat hole

Disachievements: most of the work I should have done today; and I didn't make any marzipan llamas

*A scamp is a very rough sketch of a page layout, showing where the blocks of text go and the very rough content of illustrations.

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