Lessons in Editing

Red Pen EditsWhat a week!

I threw myself into a lot of work this week, feeling that if I didn’t, I would lose the plot altogether. You can only go so long without writing, with or without a plan, because the part of the soul that lives off creativity starts to wither. It needs to be exercised, maintained and stretched, replenished of the goodness that keeps it looking and feeling young.

The main chunk of my workload fell to the next draft of GATECRASH. This will be my second full length crime novel when it comes out. It’s quite dark and creepy and structured like nothing I’ve attempted before, but it seems to be working.

I’m taking it very easy, moving through each chapter line by line, word by word, pulling on many recent bad experiences I’ve had with drafts of a certain other novella I wrote. I’m not moving forward with it until I have each chapter to a fine level of quality, in other words, this one won’t be a load of kack. It’s coming on nicely, but it has a long way to go.

Elsewhere, I got lucky with my submission to the publisher of my paranormal fiction. I’d submitted the manuscript for the sequel to STELLA back in December, thinking that it was finished and ready to go. Unfortunately, a good friend was simultaneously assembling a damning critique of the book, and BACCARA BURNING was suddenly in a perilous position.

Don’t get me wrong, it was all my own fault. I’d got carried away with the book and forgotten the golden rule of submitting: “Don’t send your work in too quickly.” When I received the critique, it was the kick up the arse I needed, and precisely why the person I asked to review it, is such a valuable and trusting friend. Without her words to shake me up, I’d be in trouble.

But I digress. I made the submission, got the critique, then shat myself. However, after a few months of having heard nothing back from the publisher, I chased it up. I was rather delighted to discover that they had LOST the submission when they were transferring over to a new email system, and so could I “please resubmit it with our utmost apologies?” No problemo, said I, and promptly sent them the superior manuscript thanks to the wonderful friend who reviewed it.
That was a lesson hard learned, and I was lucky to get away with it.

Other work has seen me edge ever forward with POEMS FROM A COFFEE SHOP WINDOW under my Chas Stramash pseudonym, resubmit a conditional acceptance of a poem I wrote for a digital publication, enhance a coupe of websites, and then just today, I took another poetry workshop for primary school kids while it’s still the Easter holidays.

Poetry Workshop in Loanhead
I’d been invited to The Kabin, a very impressive kids club that’s part of the Loanhead Community Learning Centre. It’s a fabulous facility that houses an impressive collection of creative and fun activities, such as a cafe, charity shop, cinema, dance hall, ball park, media room and recording studio, and that runs workshops and classes for all ages in all types of activities.

Eight children took part, aged between about 6 and 9, and they were all wonderfully creative. We started off with me reading some of the poems from my book, SILLY POEMS FOR WEE PEOPLE, which got many laughs and giggles (always reassuring)!

One of the boys in the group, Kyle, who is the son of Catriona and Paul (two friends of mine), is already a fan, having read my book on his Mum’s Kindle!

We moved onto the word games, the result being that by the end of the hour, everyone left with silly poems of their own, and had a lot of fun getting there. Not only that, but all the mums got an hour to themselves in the cafe while the workshop was on. As a dad, I remember the value of such moments in a parent’s day.

It was a great end to the week. Working with kids on these workshops always gives me a huge lift. I guess it all comes down to me remembering how much fun being a kid is. It’s easy to forget when you get all old and boring, and seeing the fun that kids get from just being themselves and putting it onto paper, really is a treat.

About Colin Galbraith

Thriller author, music fan, St Mirren fan, fluff chucker, rabbit tamer, outstanding fake faller. Loves cannoli.
This entry was posted in Poetry, Writing and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Lessons in Editing

  1. That’s really interesting to read how you’re approaching ‘Gatecrash’ Colin. That isn’t my normal style of writing either, but on the novel I’m currently working on I am doing exactly the same thing – making sure each chapter is spot on and everything ties together as I go along. Odd that we’re both doing this at the same time and that it’s not our normal way of writing. I hope it pays off for both of us!

    • How odd! I’ve discovered that if my first draft of a book is rubbish, it will run into all sorts of problems later (like the one I described in this blog entry). But if I get a good first draft out, it ends up being a much better book and requires less fiddly editing, leaving me to concentrate more on the good stuff like characterisation and plot, etc.

      Maybe there’s something in the water 🙂

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