Reasons why Fran has been absent without leave

Apologies for a long absence. I suspect this blog post will attract between three and five readers as blogs are like tender plants which, untended, droop and wither. I should know, as I have murdered plenty of plants in my time. I am hoping I haven't similarly asphyxiated my blog. 


All Fran did was look at it.


If you are here and reading this and are neither droopy nor withered, I thank you, and you are most welcome. Do come again and bring a friend. 

Honest, m'lud, I have been slaving over a hot keyboard, writing a novel, and today I wrote the last chapter. I didn't know at the time that it was the last chapter until I looked back on it and realised that the story was finished. Sometimes stories don't ask proper permission; they just do their own thing, like recalcitrant toddlers, wonky shopping trolleys and viruses. 

If you write yourself, you'll know that having finished a first draft is just one step on a long journey of edits, rewrites, plunges into pits of despair, more edits, cuts, rearrangements, plunges into pits of despair, rinse and repeat until the egg whites stand up in soft peaks. 

Writing novels is like housework. You feel as though you're achieving something, and for a little while you have, and are triumphant, but then reality butts in. For instance, this morning I swept the kitchen floor but all that meant was that, when my gardener husband arrived home, shedding bits of hedge, soil and probably himself (he's 65 this year), I minded a lot more than I would have done had I not bothered sweeping. 

A gardener without bits so, not Fran's husband


Also, I scrubbed the kitchen sink until it smiled at me, but all that means is that, the first time one of us recklessly brushes crumbs off the breadboard into the sink without rinsing them away, I will wish I'd left it as it was. 

Similarly, although I've written a draft novel and that should seem like a big deal, all it's left me with is a hundred notes in the margin that say things like, 'Is the asthma important to the plot?' and 'Didn't I say she had red hair in Chapter 1?' and 'If the aunt in New Zealand surfaces, will she need a subplot to herself - please, no!?' and 'I've got far too many people grinning and shrugging. THESAURUS!'

If I'd minded my own business, forgotten the novelist aspirations and just read a book or made scones, I could save myself so much trouble. 

Writing the novel has coincided with a lifting of some restrictions, something they used to call taking off your corset, but which now means you can see family and friends indoors as long as you keep a window open and only hug them like you would an electric fence. 

This has meant that grandchildren have come back into our lives, having been kept at a distance, waving from across roads and fields. We gathered together at lunch time on Sunday at our daughter's house and, when my grandson (8) arrived, I asked him what he'd been doing all morning. He sighed. 'Waiting,' he said. 

I think it's safe to say he was looking forward to the reunions. 

So, despite my whinging about how much work I've made for myself by writing a draft manuscript, sweeping my kitchen floor and scrubbing my sink clean, there is much for which to be thankful, and I am. 

Or, I will be, once I've worked out what to do with the aunt in New Zealand. 






 



Comments

  1. Perhaps the aunt in New Zealand has been operating a tattoo parlour and giving people intricately designed tattoos NZ style.
    I have to confess I don't give much thought to those who don't blog often, just assuming they're busy doing other things. I barely blog myself these days.

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    1. In your version of the aunt story, River, she sounds as though she's living her best life, so I think I will leave her there! Thanks for commenting and for your compassion re my AWOL status!

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  2. Fran I empathise on the novel front and on the housework front. The only times I seem to be in the mood to clean the kitchen floor with the flash mop is when someone with muddy shoes is about to walk in. And re. the gardening, yes, I know all about clods of mud scattered across the hall floor.... Re. the novel, I'm in the middle of "self-editing" what feels like the 20th draft, and also re-inventing my own genre. I discovered that if you mis-judge your own genre, (very easy if your novel has lots of different elements in it) and tell a publisher that's what it is, they will immediately judge it against that criteria without having read a single word, and make assumptions about it that are totally inappropriate. Judging genre is a menace!

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    1. Thanks for reading and for your comments! I sometimes think I live with Worzel Gummidge - I find shreds of green and brown all over the house. As for genre, that's an interesting one. I think you'd be really interested to read Louise Boland's posts on Authors Electric. She's the person who started up Fairlight Books (about to publish Deborah Jenkins' novel) and she has some very interesting things to say about genre, literary fiction, etc, and why she began her small publishing house. the one titled 'A Love Affair with Literary Fiction' is a good place to start. https://authorselectric.blogspot.com/search?q=louise+boland

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  3. Hi Fran, congratulations firstly, on finishing the first draft of your novel. No mean feat! I share your guilt about a 'neglected blog'. You do feel as though all those hard-won 'followers' (that sounds like a cult), will unsubscribe in disgust, don't you? And somehow the longer you leave it between posts, the harder it is to then write one. I speak as someone who's been intending to write a new post for about 10 days. Don't like to say 'But I've been busy!' but it's true, I have. Good luck with the aunt in New Zealand!

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    1. Thanks so much, Helen! You're so right about leaving big gaps - it's a bit like only speaking to a friend once a year. There should be so much to say and yet you can't think of one thing. As for the New Zealand aunt, she got fleshed out today and I hope she's grateful.

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  4. Hi Fran, I love to see your blog in my email whenever it gets there. It always makes me laugh and brightens my day. I can't wait for your novel to come out! It will go right to the top of my very tall reading pile!

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  5. Fran, I am both droopy and withered, but have livened right up having read this. As a beautiful blue anemone, bought with optimism and left to perish in the back garden then remembered and flooded with water and love, my head lifted and a grin spread across my face. A Kiwi aunt! Using the same words over and over again! Stuff all over the floor!! Yes, yes, a thousand times yes. Even if you only blogged once a year, I would still read every word and love it. A tonic. Thank you.

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  6. Firstly (again) many many congratulations on completing the First Taming of the recalcitrant toddler that is your first draft. A) That's a superb analogy and B) We all know what a big deal that is. As you know, I am currently on the way home from a holiday FAIL which has plunged me into deep gloom, but reading this post has cheered me up considerably for all sorts of reasons. Thank you and well done again!!

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    1. I am glad to have helped with the gloom. And thank you! The First Taming is such a great description!

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  7. I met 2 of my New Zealand aunts. My mother's sister wrote to her - what a life, looking at wet sheep on a wet hillside! My father's sister took a photo of me, sitting on a rock in a stream like a mermaid, in the dappled shade of tall trees.

    7 of us here so far ...

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    1. 'Looking at wet sheep'!! Actually, that sounds really attractive right now. Simple, undemanding, serene ...

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  8. Hi Fran,
    Nice to find another post from you...I check every so often! Good luck with the book. I hope that it has a " proper" ending? I have read several books this last year ( for book club) that have just finished abruptly, as if the author suddenly decided that they were fed up with writing and that will do...leaving many unanswered questions. The latest was " 3 Daughters of Eve" and we shall be discussing it on Thursday.

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    1. I promise, it's a proper one! I can't bear the unanswered questions either. I go through the manuscript with a fine toothcomb asking myself, 'Did I tie up this one? This one? That one?' On the other hand, TOO tidy and it can seem a bit forced. Writers' dilemmas!

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