January 2013

The Lacemaker, Queen of the May, & Tag

by Suw on January 20, 2013

Towards the end of last year I had an idea for a short story. I scribbled it down in my notebook – see my blog post on Forbes for how I’m trying to get the best out of my notebook – and promised myself that I’d get it finished by the end of the holidays. I spent quite a lot of falling-asleep-time planning it out and coming up with a half-decent ending, notes about which I was careful to make as soon as I had had the ideas, but I didn’t get a chance to write it until the year’s end.

Tentatively called The Lacemaker, it’s the first actually short short story I think I’ve ever written, coming in at around 1,500 words. Usually my ‘short’ stories turn into novellas before I know what’s happened to them, but this one behaved. Well, mostly. 

I had also promised myself that I’d finish the second draft, aka total rewrite, of The Queen of the May before the end of the year. It’s been a bit of a slog, in part because I’ve just not had the time to set aside to do what needed to be done. Freelancing and running what is essentially a non-profit and trying to start a writing career can turn into a bit of a clusterfuck if you’re not careful. 

However, I dutifully found the time in the dying days of the year to sit and finish the rewrite, rounding it off mid-afternoon on 31 December. It has come in at a bit over 32,000 words and I have to say I’m moderately pleased with it. I immediately sent it off to John Rickards, a friend who helped me get over a major hump a few months ago when I hit a brick wall with the whole rewriting process. John read the first 8,000 words, gave me some great feedback and helped me see how to finish it off. 

A proper published author himself under the name Sean Cregan, John has begun providing editorial services. I commissioned a detailed critique and am now in possession of an excellent set of notes that will help me with my next draft. John is great, by the way, and I can’t recommend his services highly enough. 

I haven’t had much time to act on John’s notes, as January has been pretty much solid with work. (Yay!) However, I’m hoping to find the time next week, whilst travelling and without internet, to sit down and start the next draft. 

Finally, I have also started analysing the script that I wrote years back, Tag, ready for novelisation. I billed it back then as ‘Buffy meets Highlander in Reading’, and that pretty much still fits the bill. But although the core is solid, there are a lot of things that need rethinking, adding or developing before it can be written as a novel. That’s a fairly slow process at the best of times, but it’s coming along nicely. 

Overall it’s been a pretty good start to the year. I hope to have The Lacemaker rewritten by early February and once it’s been through a few beta readers, I’ll post it here. I hesitate to put an ETA on The Queen of the May, which still has to go through the next rewrite, beta readers and copyeditors before it’s even vaguely ready. Hopefully it won’t take me as long to do all that as it did to do the second draft!  

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Ovarian Cyst Mark 2

by Suw on January 20, 2013

After my ovarian cystectomy last August, everything seemed to be going very well indeed. I healed quite quickly, stopped aching all the time, started sleeping properly again, and soon felt incredibly energised. It made me realise how much waking several times in the night was wearing me out.

I was supposed to get another ultrasound scan in October to see whether the cyst has truly gone, but due to an administrative error, that scan didn’t end up happening until last week. The bad news is that my cyst is back, and very nearly as big as it was last time. In just five months, it’s grown to 7cm across, which is a bit too rapid for my liking.

Now before I go further, this next bit may stray into ‘too much information’ for some of you, so if you’re squeamish, don’t read on.

My consultant told me that the first operation simply drained the cyst. The hope, obviously, was that that would be enough and that it wouldn’t recur. My assumption is that draining a cyst is easier than removing it, and so that’s the first thing they try.

The cyst itself appears to have been an endometrioid or endometrial cyst, also disturbingly called a ‘chocolate cyst’. What happens is that a little bit of the lining of the uterus comes away, travels to an ovary and starts to grow. Just like it would in the uterus, it bleeds, and the cyst grows.

So rather than being full of mucous, as some cysts are, mine was full of blood. And it will continue to grow unless it is removed.

Whilst my consultant generously gave me the option to wait and see what might happen, it was pretty clear that the next step is another operation, but this time, rather than just draining the cyst, they will attempt to peel the sac itself away from the ovary. That’s likely easier said than done, not least because the photo clearly showed how the ovary had stretched as the cyst grew inside it. Contrary to what I had imagined, the cyst wasn’t a sort of balloon on the outside of the ovary, but embedded in it, which will make it a bit tricky to remove.

The weird thing is that I didn’t feel any of the pain or discomfort that I had had for the first nine months of last year… at least, not until a couple of days after the ultrasound. I don’t know if it was because the process of doing the scan poked it about a bit, if it was psychosomatic, or if the inflection point is just co-incidental.

But what I can say is that I’m now at the same stage I was around April last year with regard to symptoms, and I know it’s going to be a while before the surgery’s arranged. So, fun time ahead. At least, though, I know what to expect.

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Starting as I mean to go on

by Suw on January 2, 2013

Over the Christmas break, I had a couple of quiet days where I could pretend I was a full-time author. Having plotted out the new end of The Queen of the May early in December, and having promised myself that I would finish the second draft before the end of 2012, I spent 31st December writing like crazy. I finished the second draft well within time and it’s now time to get editorial feedback from my trusted readers.

I also managed to draft a short story that I drafted late last year too, provisionally called The Lacemaker. That’s going to sit for a bit and then needs a polish before I publish it here. Historically, I’ve always had a bit of a problem with short stories: they tend not to stay short. This one, however, is a bit over 1,500 words, which is by itself a small miracle. 

Finally, I’ve now sorted out my own webshop to sell Argleton directly to those of you who’d like to buy it directly. You can still download it for free, of course, but if you wanted to contribute a wee bit to the Charman-Anderson coffers, then you can get the mobi, epub and pdf for just 99p. If you’d like to buy the bundle, just click the “Buy Now” link in the sidebar. 

This year, my plans are to: 

  • Finish and publish The Queen of the May
  • Finish and publish The Lacemaker
  • Analyse, tweak and novelise my script, Tag
  • Redraft The Books of Hay
  • Try to think of more short stories to write (not my forte but I’ll give it a shot)
  • Make more books!

Remember, if you want to stay up-to-date with all I’m up to, join my roughly-monthly mailing list

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