June Blog: Does Not Compute

After May’s novel master class with Mia Gallagher I was wholly enthused about my second novel Attrition. Mia was the jab in the arm I sorely needed. I set about reading over my first draft to date but was hit with an issue within the first few thousand words; atrocious spelling. Some of it was so bad that it was difficult for me to even decipher what I meant, so Microsoft Word hadn’t a hope; it’s not psychic after all. So many mistakes in fact that received the message: there are too many spelling or grammatical errors in “Attrition” to continue displaying them.

spelling errors (2)

While I’m not the greatest speller in the word, I’m far from bad. What happens is that I can’t type fast enough to keep up with the story in my head and when I’m on a roll, or when the characters won’t stay quiet, I end up typing so quickly that the story becomes laden with spelling errors. Not just basic ones that are auto-corrected, or ones that end up underlined in red and can be changed for dictionary suggestions, but spelling mistakes that are beyond all redemption.  This meant that my initial task of reading the story to gain a better understanding of my protagonist’s need/desire had actually turned into an editing job. This is the last thing I wanted to get sucked into as it’s impossible, at least for me, to both edit and create at the same time.

Still, the jumbled mess of letters that stared me in the face (I’m slightly exaggerating here) couldn’t be ignored so it was a case of accepting what had to be done and then doing it. The former was oddly easy, there was no other way around it. The latter, however, has taken more time and concentration than I had imagined it would. It certainly has never been this challenging to correct spelling mistakes with other writing projects but I’m allowing myself to believe that I must’ve been writing incredibly fast as the story is incredibly good. It also demonstrated how delusional I am at times.

This bump in the road has not damaged my enthusiasm for the rest of the job at hand and I’m hoping that during the editing process I’m still unconsciously filtering the story through my mind and that in itself is grist for the mill. Next I need to consciously read the story again and pay particular attention to Kitty, making notes as I do so. This will be a big enough task and even though I feel I know her very well, she it always surprising me. I am looking forward to this part of the process, though these could be famous last words.

I will be spending the rest of the summer in the Washington DC so I’ll have to be extra smart about scheduling in my writing/reading time. My plan is to make a good start on it and get some reading done en route. I will be taking time off there too to do the touristy things, as well as lots of day-job stuff at the National Cancer Institute, and I’ll be visiting the surrounding areas, including Baltimore and Philadelphia. No doubt I’ll find a million new things there that I’ll want to writing about and they’ll be added to the always overflowing backburner. At least I’ll never be stuck for ideas. So next month’s blog will be from the US, if I don’t melt in the Washingtonian summer heat.

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