Worried Novelist Walks Through Hitchin

Almost there. Actually, “there” is one of my multitude of tiny problems. 130,000 words and at the point where major changes are essentially impossible, I’m fussing now over single words and individual – but not quite exactly what I wished they were – sentences.

It is that maddening creative moment when you the writer are down to the level of anguishing over the likes of “I’ve used ‘there’ too often in those two paragraphs.” Or “Rather than three sentences, perhaps make it one sentence joined together with semi-colons?” Or “That is supposed to be ‘at’ not ‘as’. Spell-check missed it! Ugh!”

As you get “there,” you also need to pause, breathe, take an extra-moment or two, and maybe see some ducks:

Because it is difficult not to think “Eh, there be monsters out there…” I find I am increasingly consumed with worry. As I correct issues of “as” that should be “at,” I confess even to having moments of despair. “All of this effort,” my mind races as I look yet again at the screen, “and what if it stinks? I may have to jump into that water in Hitchin town center. But I suspect it may not be deep enough…”

To be a writer is to be forever in some self-doubt.

The last thing I’ve been doing is daydreaming about conquering the universe…

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From France To England (Again)

Well, that’s all for the latest France visit. I no longer know how many times I’ve been in the country. I’ve lost count.

If you have never been there and ever have a chance for a trip, don’t hesitate. I would suggest, yes, see Paris, but also make sure you get away from there and find a part of the country that is NOT Paris. And, above all, if you are American, don’t worry: trust me: the French do NOT hate Americans!

By coincidence, returning to Geneva airport on Saturday we ended up with the same woman driver who had taken us to the airport last year. And she remembered us. We had a great chat once again over the hour and a half between La Clusaz and the airport.

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“He doesn’t love me as I love him…”

For today’s topic – the obvious one. I’ve found that writing romance is one of the most difficult things to get right as an author. It is too dangerously easy to produce sappy, or unrealistic, or simply unbelievable relationships.

It is also easy to poke fun at romance writing. However, if you try to write even a few romantic paragraphs yourself you will quickly develop a respect for those who craft romantic tales. Since 2013, I have.

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“What are we to do with all of you?”

Another week. Oh, and I admit, I forgot! That game was last night!

I’ve had lots else on my mind. We also had a cousin pass through here on his way back to the U.S. We went out to dinner with him on Saturday.

Pre-dinner, we had chatted about my latest manuscript. As we did, I thought on Monday I’d share a final peek into it.

But I was unable to decide on any single part that could be seen as “representative” overall. So after some thought I decided I’d put up some “rapid” shorts sort of like a film promo – to provide the flavor of the tale. They aren’t in any particular order – except for the last one. (If you click on any of the pages below, it will expand for easier reading.) Enjoy. πŸ™‚

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This Writer’s Yesterday

What do novelists do all day? My uncle had told me any writer gets asked that question regularly. So I thought that I’d try to explain what this one did … yesterday.

Now that the holidays are over, I have no excuses. I’ve decided to target finishing Conventions by the end of January. We’ll see if I can live up to that; but planting a timescale flag is necessary or one is apt to drift. However, even if I can manage that, with all that follows after the last word is “officially” written, it will not be available probably before March.

As you may know I try to write a blog post here five or so times a week. But as you may have also noticed I have fallen off that pace recently as I have found myself working increasingly on the last stages of the book. To give you all a morning wave, yesterday I chose Instagram:

It was not a great weather morning here early yesterday as well. So I posted that Knebworth Park summer photo. (But the sun did come out eventually during the day.) Not long after I’d posted it, I was off and running…

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A Few Days Of Holiday Hibernation

Here, near Windham in the Catskills, we awoke to some snow yesterday:

Lovely to look at and fortunately not enough to be a major driving problem. English relatives will be arriving here later today, driving up from Manhattan where they’ve been sightseeing for the last two days. We’re prepared:

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Portrait Of A Lady

You may recall the BuzzFeed article I had mentioned the other day. I noted I was bewildered by its list of “32” book covers of 2016 that it asserts are “beautiful.” I wrote that frankly I believe NONE of them are.

Anicet-Charles-Gabriel Lemonnier (1743–1824). "Lecture de la tragΓ©die de l'orphelin de la Chine de Voltaire dans le salon de madame Geoffrin."
Anicet-Charles-Gabriel Lemonnier (1743–1824). “Lecture de la tragΓ©die de l’orphelin de la Chine de Voltaire dans le salon de madame Geoffrin.”

Yesterday morning, I didn’t summon a meeting nor give a speech. But I had an idea along these lines. Having disagreed strongly with BuzzFeed there, in fairness let me share something of what I want to see on my coming (2017) new novel’s cover.

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A Fourth Writing December

Another Monday is upon us. His Oxford term now finished, we had my nephew stay over for a couple of nights. He flies off today to Vienna for a few days to visit friends there.

Aircraft contrails over Hertfordshire, England yesterday. [Photo by me, 2016.]
Aircraft contrails over Hertfordshire, England yesterday. [Photo by me, 2016.]
While he was here in Hertfordshire, of course we fed him:

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In The Eye Of The Beholder

One of those year-end lists is out. I’d not heard of this one before. Clearly the title is meant to grab your attention – and it did mine.

BuzzFeed has 32 – I won’t even hazard a guess as to why that odd number is chosen – of the “most beautiful book covers of 2016”:

Screen capture of BuzzFeed.
Screen capture of BuzzFeed.

Do judge these books by their covers?

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All In Another Day’s Work

This is what happens to a writer left alone. The Mrs. is in Lisbon until Wednesday. So I have no excuse not to tear through more of the manuscript

My home office [Photo by me, 2016.]
My home office [Photo by me, 2016.]

And yesterday, I did. On the spur of the moment I decided to kill off an important character. Writing can be a “brutal” world. You can do just about anything – and surprise and shock readers.

Later, after a couple of Mad Men episodes and dinner, I ended up awake until midnight. Finally I took on a scene I’d been putting off writing: A character at a dinner, debating Thomas Jefferson.

He’s a tough man to debate. As you know I’ve tried talking to him myself. He wouldn’t give me the time of day. πŸ™‚

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