Tweak, Meet, Greet (Miaow)

Here are some gorgeous kittens.

I’ve not posted much on my blog recently. Had my head immersed in my novel: finishing a draft, having family read it, getting feedback, finishing it again, and then a few weeks later, again and then again… I’ve now finished it again and am about to send it to my writers’ group to read (again), my supervisor on a PhD I’m embarking on in October and my agent (both for first time). So, I suppose it’s at a good-enough finished state to do all of the above, and for me to feel like letting out a small yippee! But once the next stage of feedback comes in, I’ll be finishing it all over again, this time throughout August because we have a holiday to squeeze in between.

So, I have been quite busy. But it’s not all been about work and writing and tweaking. Here are a few things that have been happening:

  1. Editing an 86,000-word document (I did mention this already, but it deserves its place at the top of my list). Finding John and replacing it with Jonathan; Tammy with Cindy, a dash to an em dash (among many other fiddly things).
  2. Running around the marshes, to Shoreditch to buy some Swedish Hasbeens, to the wool shop and back (my daughter’s the knitter, not me).
  3. Reading a short story at the Finchley Literary Festival with four other members of my writers’ group, Zoe Gilbert who read a sexy story about shellfish, Evie Miller, who is writing about the grain exchange, and Tasha Kavanagh, who told us about how her debut novel (mentioned below) came about.
  4. Cycling to the library to do more tweaking.
  5. Reading some good books: currently just started fellow writers’ group debut: THINGS WE HAVE IN COMMON, strong narrative voice and so far a little bit creepy; recently finished Anne Enright’s, THE FORGOTTEN WALTZ, a sparky modern love/anti love story about the fallout from an affair; and I roared through an old classic, A KESTREL FOR A KNAVE, by Barry Hines, because it was so good.
  6. Meeting random person in pub who happens to be my third cousin. This is how it went: My friend likes look of said man, asks, ‘What’s your name?’ He:  Matthew. ‘Where are you from?’ He: South Africa. I look up from my phone. ‘Where abouts in South Africa?’ Knysna, he says. ‘Oh, that’s funny,’ I say, ‘there’s an island in Knysna called Thesen Island, which is named after my family.’ ‘I’m a Thesen,’ he says. ‘So am I!’ I say (my mum is a Thesen). We work out that our grandfathers were cousins, which makes us third cousins (same generation). He was raised in South Africa, from where my mother and her family emigrated in the late 50s, and now lives a couple of streets away from me. I made a new relative.
  7. Vowing to learn more about my South African heritage and organise that trip I’ve been meaning to make with my mum since I had two children nine and seven years ago.
  8. Visiting family in Devon for a wedding, and escaping to Ilfracombe to search out the B&B where my dad died eight years ago, only to find I have no idea of name of B&B, or street in which it resides, or what I am doing in this strange seaside town on my own staring out at the sea. ‘You did what?’ my mum asks while applying her lipstick.
  9. Driving a few hours to the coast to visit our new kitten, who currently lives in a place called Sandwich, and will be living with us from the beginning of August. We gave her a very elaborate, unkitty-friendly name.
  10. Sitting at my favourite desk at the British Library writing this and looking forward to seeing my lovely friends, Ruth and Will, tonight, who have been cycling around America for the past two years.

I am planning to write more about my process of finishing this novel (officially my third novel, but if it gets published it will be my second), sending it out via my agent, finding a publisher (or not). So, if you are interested in the general finishing process, watch this space.

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