I would like to give a big apology to all of my loyal, regular readers. Both of you!
I’m sorry I haven’t updated this site much in recent months. I have been extremely busy working on finalising my Master of Arts Creative Writing thesis paper. This paper consisted of a 40,000 word novel for children (ages 10-12) and a 10,000 word exegesis essay on the writing of the novel.
Last week I finally finished all the last minute editing and proofreading. I had it professionally printed (3 copies) and bound. With a sense of relief I handed it up to my supervising lecturer who organised to have it sent off to two examiners. Now I have a 6-8 week wait to find out if I’ve passed my degree. I am quietly confident of passing because all three of my supervisors approved the final draft, noting that it had improved vastly from earlier drafts.
I found the rewriting phase both fascinating and frustrating. It was frustrating because right up to the final draft I was making changes. Considering it was the 17th draft that I submitted, that’s an amazing amount of rewriting. On the flip side, however, it was fascinating to observe the effect of all those changes. Towards the end of the process I read the whole manuscript aloud several times. Despite being too close to the story, even I could tell how much it had improved in the final stages. Other readers were very positive in their feedback concerning the changes.
One of the most significant changes I made after the 6th draft was to totally rewrite the whole novel, changing it from the third to the first person. This was more difficult than I first imagined because remnants of the earlier third person persisted for several drafts. Eventually all was ironed out and the story is much stronger for the change. Being inside the head of the protagonist is so much more immediate and intimate, perhaps even confronting at times. His unique voice comes over much stronger now.
Now that I’ve submitted it for marking I am going to give myself a few weeks break before preparing the manuscript for sending off to a publisher. I am mentally, physically and emotionally exhausted at present, so a short break – with lots of reading – should refresh and recharge the batteries.
I might even get to add a few more updates on this site in the meantime.
I am in the last stages of finishing my work in progress, a novel for children set in Nepal. This 40,000 word novel, and the accompanying 10,000 word exegesis essay, is the final stage of my Master of Arts in Creative Writing.
I’ve been working on the novel for over 18 months and finally it is getting near to ready to submit to examiners in the coming weeks. Then I plan to start it on its journey around the various publishing houses, so fun continues. This novel writing game is not a sprint, and more of a marathon. In fact, sometimes it feels like having to run a marathon every day.
Despite the weariness, I am pleased with the final product and I’ve learned so much along the way. With the help of my critiquing group, friends who are critical readers, and my supervising lecturers, my skills have been honed and my writing has improved way beyond what I had thought possible.
I have learned, above all, not to be precious about my words. I have learned to be ruthless and to cut anything that does not work, anything that is repetitious, redundancies, passive voice, switches in POV and many other stumbling blocks placed in the path of writers everywhere.
Must get back to the finishing touches.
Late last night, after about 18 months of hard labour, I finally “finished” writing my novel for children set in Nepal.
I have written “finished” in quotes because, in reality, the process is far from complete. Because this novel is my thesis paper for my Master of Arts in Creative Writing, it needs to now go to my supervising lecturers for one last look, mainly proofreading and final checking. It then goes to an independent examiner for marking. After that long process I may graduate. And then starts a whole new ball game: trying to find a publisher. That game could go on for another 18 -24 months or longer. [Sigh]
In its current form the novel is in its 10th draft. Some sections have been through more drafts than that. The final draft was essentially just proofreading on my part; very few words were changed and I found only a handful of punctuation errors – even after all those times reading through it.
The hard work doesn’t end there however. Today I focused back on my exegesis essay which must accompany the novel. In this essay I explain the origins of the story, the problems I had along the journey of writing it, some of the technical questions encountered and how I solved them and the influences on my writing from my research, reading and studies. And its another 10,000 words, of which I’ve written about 3,500. Time to stop blabbing on here and get back to the essay.
Wish me good writing!
I haven’t had much time to add new posts here on this site for some time. I am in a frantic rush to finish my novel for children in the next few days. Then I will be submitting it as my thesis paper for my Master of Arts in Creative Writing.
I’m currently working on the 9th draft and essentially all I am doing is proofreading. I’m checking that my last rewrite – from third to first person – scraped through with no glaring errors, especially with the changes to the pronouns used. I’m finding a few but not as many as I thought I would.
One of the amazing things about this draft is the errors I’m still finding, mainly missing words. Although this is officially the 9th draft, in reality it is probably the 15th time I’ve been through the manuscript – some sections could well be more. And I’m still finding little errors!
Who’d be a writer?
Over recent weeks I have been rewriting my novel for children.
It is now in its 8th draft in which I changed from the third person to the first person. So far, so good. I think it has been worth the effort. While I was at it, I made some significant changes to many phrases and sentences, including cutting out whole paragraphs – but also adding quite a few words and phrases here and there. The nett result is an increase of about 500 words over the whole manuscript while at the same time cutting at least a thousand words.
Now this week I am going over the whole manuscript again – this time meticulously. I’m looking for typos, spelling errors, punctuation mistakes, redundancies, and especially the misuse of pronouns, a problem which occurs when one changes point of view. All this editing and checking is wearying but essential.
It is essential because I want this book to be the very best I can do.