Writing update 02 March 2014

It’s been a long time since I blogged about writing, at least in this long form. (I do use Twitter every day to talk about writing @astrotomato).

The back half of 2013 proved an eventful time. Lots of things happened in my private life which aren’t for a public forum, except to say that they took my spare time and energy, and things like blogging had to go by the wayside. I had hoped to spend the summer giving critical feedback to an author called Len, who shared his psychics/action thriller with me. I owe him an apology for not being able to do that, but no longer have the email address (if you’re out there, apologies). Life happened, but I should have found time to say that I couldn’t fulfil your request.

The rest of my spare time, when I had the mental space, was focused on writing Sympathy for the Devil. This is my 3rd completed novel, and I am now almost at the end of the 3rd draft.

Sympathy has gone through a lot of changes since I wrote the first draft in an intense 3 month period between May-August 2013. Before Christmas I deleted the final 1/3 of the book, 30,000 words. I suspect this will sound horrifying to some authors; I found it liberating. With the 2nd draft I had started to hone in on some of the core drama at the heart of the book, and I also had to change one of the key characters, who was frankly too boring. Those early changes meant the end of the book no longer matched the beginning. With a blank page, I was able to pull a completely different story into focus, a stronger story, and one which had more action and more opportunity for insight into political satire.

The accepted wisdom about writing is that it’s mostly re-writing, and I think this pretty much proves that.

Within the next month I hope to have a final 3rd draft ready to go to a professional editor. Neither of my 2 self-published books have been through professional editing, due to lack of funds. I’ve saved up for this one, and am looking forward to having an experienced eye look over the structure and character and dramatic flow (as well as spotting those annoying typos).

All of this means I see an end point approaching. At some point this year, the book will be finished and ready to send to agents. I’ve started airing it already. On Friday I was at the inaugural London Author Fair, where I pitched Sympathy to a literary agent. Her feedback was that satires aren’t hugely popular with publishers, and that they’ll only pick up one or two a year. I appreciated her honesty, it means when I submit to other agents that I won’t be expecting to hit a lucrative market. That’s OK. Managed expectations are better than unrealistic expectations.

In May I hope to send out the draft of Sympathy to my beta reading group. If you’d like to be one of them, let me know. You’ll get to read a book for ‘free’, in return for sending me 1 page of critical feedback. All of my books have gone through this process, and benefited enormously from real reader feedback.

I hope you writing is going well,

astro x


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