March Blog: March of Many Whethers

I’ve started the second draft of Attrition and am still very much in the preparatory stage. My first task is to rewrite the first 50K words in a third person close point of view. Thankfully this hasn’t been as daunting as I had feared it would be, at least so far, and long may it continue. I may yet make some other POV changes but overall I think third person close is best for the story, with a possibility of intermittent first person from my protagonist.

My main concern is the choice to keep or remove the secondary plotline, involving Kitty’s mother and Fr. Reilly. Whether to keep their story whole. Whether to keep it at all. Whether there is even a need for their characters. These are not easy decisions to make, as I like the characters and their story, but I’m currently on the fence as to whether it needs to be told right here and right now. Removing the plotline is no easy feat either; every thread related to it will need to be unpicked and trimmed. At present, I’m still not certain, so I will have to wait and see what happens as I progress through the second draft.

Since the beginning of the year I’ve been trying to return to a few other pieces, namely short stories and poetry. I’ve made some headway with this and hope to continue doing so. I’m trying to balance things out so that working on one doesn’t necessarily detract from working on another but it’s hard to get it right. It boils down to time and while I’ve more of it this year to focus on creative work, time spent on one project means time not spent on another. That said, I’m happy with Attrition being my main focus for now and having some smaller side projects on the go that will hopefully see the light of day this year.

I’m just back from a short trip to Edinburgh that was part holiday and part research. Admittedly, when writing it’s fairly easy to call everything research. This was for two future projects: the adaptation of my short script Lacewing into a novel, and a non-fiction book about historic dogs. For the former I’m always on the lookout for references to local ghost stories, myths, legends, and folklore.

Given our shared Celtic heritage, Scotland has plenty on offer that wouldn’t be out of place in an Irish based story. I particularly loved learning about the Arthur’s Seat Coffins. These 17 miniature coffins were discovered by schoolboys on Arthur’s Seat in 1836. Their origin and meaning still remains a mystery, though several hypotheses have been posited over the years. You can read more about them here.

I also got to visit the grave of Greyfriars Bobby, one of the very good boys from history, who guarded his master’s grave for 14 years. You can read and get misty-eyed by the story here. I’m collecting stories about historical dogs that, at some far off date, I’d love to put together as a collection of poignant and heartening tales. The stories so far prove, as if we needed more evidence, that we really don’t deserve dogs.

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