Okay I admit it, I can be a bit of a perfectionist at times. Now, the problem with writing novels is that while you might aim for perfection, the chances of attaining it are zilch. Put it this way, I’ve got more chance of waking up tomorrow and discovering that Bill Gates has transferred all of his money into my bank account. Sure it’s possible, but it’s not very likely, is it? At some point I finally have to let go, and that’s hard. Each and every book is a labour of love. I spend months and months writing them. What if everyone hates it? Believe me, I can understand why some writers hide their manuscripts away and refuse to show them to the world!
The copyedit of KISS ME KILL ME is almost done. At some point during the next month the review copies will be going out. For me the letting-go process is a slow one that needs to be taken one step at a time, and that’s a huge step into the unknown. Before that happens, I need a smaller step … I need to dip my toe in the ocean. The prologue and first two chapters have just gone up on my website. This is the first step. I hope you like it… http://www.james-carol.com/kiss-me-kill-me-excerpt
Roll On February
Every now and again I get the opportunity to leave my writing cave and meet and talk to real people. This makes a change from spending my days communing with the imaginary people inside my head. So on Tuesday I headed down to London. My first stop was the café at John Lewis on Oxford Street for a meeting with my agent, Camilla. A good agent is hard to find, but I’ve been blessed because Camilla is in a league of her own. Not only is she a shit-hot negotiator, she is also a shit hot editor. This means that by the time my books actually get out into the industry I know they’re in pretty good shape.
After lunch we headed to Marylebone to meet the fine folk at Bonnier. KISS ME KILL ME isn’t being published until February but the ball starts rolling now. It was great to sit down and hear their ideas; it was also great to get swept up in their enthusiasm. Bonnier is such a dynamic company to be working with and it’s reassuring to know that KMKM is in such good hands.
It’s easy to think of writing as a solitary pursuit and in some ways it is. After all, it’s up to me to get the words down onto that page. However, getting a book published is anything but a solitary pursuit. That one is a team effort, and I’m fortunate to have a great team supporting me.
Hit That Target!
‘How do you write a book?’ According to Stephen King it’s one word at a time. The answer no doubt gets a couple of laughs when he delivers it, but there’s a whole lot of truth in there too. Because that’s exactly how you write a book. You type one word, then another, and lo and behold if you type enough of them you end up with a novel. The thing is you’re going to end up typing a hell of a lot of words to get there. I’d estimate that for a hundred thousand word novel, I must type at least a half a million words.
So how do you keep going? A hundred thousand words is a big ask, but half a million… doing that is as dumbass as climbing Everest in Speedos. That’s where targets come in. One of the first things I do on a Monday morning is set a target for the week. That gives me somewhere to aim all those words. This week, for example, I wanted to get the latest draft of KISS ME KILL ME finished. Most times I hit my targets; this week I didn’t. That doesn’t matter though because sitting here now I’m a lot further on than I was last week at this time. Basically there’s only one part left to do, which I should manage to get done tomorrow. If you want to know how I’m going to do that, well, it’s going to be done one word at a time, of course!
The Whoosh Of The Deadline
Weekly Update (17/9/17)
The late great Douglas Adams once said: “I love deadlines. I love the whooshing noise they make as they go by.” All joking aside, balancing deadlines is one of those things they don’t tell you about when you get into writing. There is something appealing about the idea of disappearing into your writing cave and doing battle with that empty white page, taking your time to hone every word and sentence to perfection. But the reality is that you don't work alone, nor do you have unlimited time to achieve a state of transcendental perfection.
This week I’ve been going through my agent’s comments on the fifth Winter book; next week I’ll be back to working on the Kiss Me Kill Me line edits from my editor. The thing is I haven’t finished with the Winter book yet which is a bit of a pain in the ass since I’m having a lot of fun with that one at the moment. The problem is that KMKM is out in Feb, and the copywriter is booked, so I need to prioritise that one. It’s all a bit of a tightrope act but somehow I manage to stay up there in the clouds.
Searching Through The Dark
Weekly Update (10/9/17)
People find it strange that I can jump from book to book, but for me it’s normal. This week I got to dust off the fifth Winter book and make a start on draft 3. It’s been a while since I did anything on this one, which is both a good and a bad thing. On the plus side I’m able to approach it with a fresh set of eyes. This means that I can be more objective – at least I can be as objective as I’m able to be given that I wrote it.
The downside was that for the first few days I was reacquainting myself with the book and wondering what the hell I was going to do with it. During that time I kept busy dealing with the easy stuff (spelling, typos, queries from my agent that didn’t require too much thought). Halfway through the week I started to see where I could actually make significant changes that would improve the novel. This is always an exciting time. I guess it’s a little like slipping from one parallel universe to another. Everything looks kind of the same, but it’s different. There’s a long way to go, but I’m really excited to see where this one goes.
All Work And No Play…
Weekly Update (6/9/17)
Last week I wrote a grand total of zero words. This isn’t as big a disaster as it sounds. Instead of being sat at my desk I was in a tent in Dorset. The campsite we were on was right next to the Swanage railway line – sitting outside our tent watching the steam trains go past was pretty special, like travelling back in time.
One of the biggest challenges of working from home is that it’s impossible to leave the office, particularly when you love what you do. There’s always an email to respond to, or a tweet to be tweeted, and, of course, there’s that book to be written. For the sake of what little sanity I have left, I need to step off the merry-go-round every once in a while. It’s nice just hanging out with my family without a million and one distractions getting in the way. Of course, the fact that my phone comes on holiday too isn’t ideal, but the beauty of camping is that it’s a challenge to get it charged – that means it’s switched off more than it’s on! That's got to be a step in the right direction, right?
Welcome To Reality...
Weekly Update (27/8/17)
Every now and then I have to make a trip to the real world. I try to keep these visits to a minimum as I believe that reality is highly overrated. I'd much rather be hanging out in my writing cave, playing with my imaginary friends!
Seriously though, being a writer isn't all about writing books. I wish it was, but it's not. So this week I have been doing all those jobs that I've been putting off. My website has been tweaked, my accounts are up to date (and this time they were only three months out of date, which is pretty good for me). The thing is that being a writer is a job, and like all jobs there are bits I like (the writing), and the bits that are more like, well for want of a better word, like work (everything else).
Thankfully these trips to reality tend to be short lived. I'm sure that my own peculiar brand of normality will be restored soon enough!
The End Is Near!
Weekly Update (22/8/17)
Just hit send on the latest draft of Kiss Me Kill Me and sent it tumbling off into cyberspace. Always a bit of a weird one. On the one hand I feel as though I've finished something, but the thing with writing a novel is that it's never quite finished. In a few weeks time I'll get the line edits back from my editor ... then there's the copyediting ... and the proofreading. And with each stage of the process something will need changed. Even when it's finally published, it's still not finished. I can't look at the book without seeing something I would have done differently .. although by this point there's nothing I can do about it. Which is probably a good thing, You need to let go some time!
That said, there's a definite sense that the end is in sight. Before sending the manuscript back to my editor, I did a read through, and it's really starting to read like a book. The writing's getting tighter and leaner, and that's the way I like it. All killer and no filler. Hell by the time it gets through the next couple of rounds of editing I might even achieve that. And if I don't, well there's always the next book.