Plod, and plod and plod

I don’t know the reason why, maybe the last two years have contributed to it, but writing has become more of a struggle for me. However, I plod on and I write every day, but just less than I did before, which is why my next novel is taking such an age to appear. When I write, I always write far too many words, and then go through and cut out loads, slash and burn, slash and burn! Why don’t I just write less? I don’t know, maybe it’s part of my process. I don’t intentionally write long books, although ‘Lucky Portbradden’ even with a lot of slashing is still very long, but it’s what might be called a family saga. There are a lot of story lines in it, a lot of different incidents and episodes involving the seven main protagonists, their families, friends, enemies and lovers, but maybe I could have slimmed it down. I self-publish; I have a very kind and helpful eagle-eyed friend who has read through my novels pre-publication, ditto my husband, and both make helpful suggestions, including where scenes need slimming down or excising all together. I don’t have editors or professional proof-readers.

It surprises me when I read books which have been “properly” published and they have grammatical and stylistic errors, careless mistakes in continuity or style – such as the same phrase repeated within a few sentences for no reason. It surprises me too when I read a book which has just got far too many words in it – they may be beautifully written, the sentences wonderfully crafted, but there’s just too many of them so I feel as if I’m drowning in detail. A slight tale enlarged and padded and puffed full of so many similes, adjectives piled upon adjectives, endless descriptions, characters’ thoughts and dreams and longings explored in minute and exhausting detail. I’m not talking about long books in general – I have read and enjoyed some very long books such as Roberto Bolaño’s ‘2666’, ‘War and Peace’, ‘The English Passenger’ by Matthew Kneale’, ‘Secret History’ by Donna Tartt. Long reads are not something I shy away from, it’s when a story founders and almost sinks beneath verbiage that I sometimes give up.

The book I am reading for this month’s book club is such a story. However, because I so often don’t finish the book we’ve chosen, I really feel I should be respectful to my reading group friends and do my best to finish this one. So on I plod, and plod and plod, and do a lot of sighing. It’s not badly written, but there is just so much of it, endless internal monologues, memories of incidents from different points of views all in great detail. There are three main characters, and three lesser characters, with a few walk-ons, so it shouldn’t be confusing, but somehow I have to keep checking back to see who saw what, said what, thought what. I feel as if I’m failing as a reader, so it will be interesting to see what my friends’ thoughts are when we meet tomorrow night!

3 Comments

  1. Klausbernd

    Dear Lois
    In the English speaking world publisher try to save money by cutting down on decent editing and proof reading.
    From my manuscripts I usually deleted 1/3 before I handed them over to my editor who then deleted quite a bit as well. The short version was to the point then. But without all the deleed words one would never produce a perfect text.
    Keep healthy and happy
    The Fab Four of Cley
    🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Lois

      Dear Fab Four, that’s very interesting and explains why there seem to be so many errors in books I’ve read recently!
      And yes, it’s all about being to the point! I guess I struggle with that, hahaha!!
      I hope you’re having the same lovely weather we are having
      xxxx

      Liked by 1 person

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