August Blog: And Then There Was One

The process of reading through my current draft of Attrition continues. I delayed it by a couple of weeks while I worked on a smaller project, which I’m fairly happy with, and it was good to give myself some distance between drafts. I was hoping that this was going to be a read through, mostly focused on taking notes about restructuring the story and general continuity. What has emerged is that I’m now contemplating changing a major piece of the story (changing one of the main murders into an accidental death, thus only having one actual murder in the story). I wasn’t expecting this at all and I’m a bit flummoxed by it. It would change the overall feel of the piece, especially in relation to my protagonist, Kitty. I’m still not certain if I will make this change. For now, I’m going to continue with my note taking and once I’ve finished reading through the draft I’ll be in a better position to decide. That will be by the end of this week or the beginning of next week at the latest.

In general the story is strong and I think it has merit. I really want to write this tale but I’m just still not happy with my telling of it at present. There are lots of small pieces that I have earmarked for removal – they don’t particularly add anything to the story and read very much as filler / exposition. Plenty of other parts need to be rewritten and another deep edit wouldn’t go astray (this will be the task of my next draft). I am worried that I’ll end up with a short story or novella after I remove everything. That said, there are some chapters that I really like and these give me the motivation to keep at it. It’s very tempting right now to chalk it up to experience and begin my next project but that doesn’t sit easy with me. I think I need to write another full draft (or two) and see how the land lies. It may be that the entire novel needs to be rewritten from scratch but I don’t want to entertain that option just yet.

August usually brings with it preparation for both the Dublin Fringe Festival and the Dublin Theatre Festival. There is a wealth of excellent shows and performances at both this year but I’ve decided to take a back seat from a reviewing perspective. I will write a few reviews for The Reviews Hub but I don’t have the time nor the inclination this year if I’m honest. Over the last few years I’ve pared back my reviewing and I’m continuing to do so. The reality, for me, is that reviewing isn’t an easy task and I felt it was really beginning to drain the joy out of my experience of theatre. I’d rather that didn’t happen so I’ve taken action accordingly and reduced the amount of shows I review. I will of course continue to attend lots of shows when I can but I’ll be there just for my own pleasure.

Over the coming week or two I’ll finish reading Attrition and evaluate my notes. This will give me a clearer perspective on what direction the next draft needs to take. I would like this to be a close-to-final draft where I can really solidify the story and get my writing as crisp and clear as it can be. There are only around eight weeks before I attend my residency as La Napoule Arts Foundation in France. I want to arrive there in the knowledge that the end of the novel is in sight and have a clear plan of action for my time at La Napoule. I also take comfort in the fact that Attrition got me this residency, so there must be something worth telling to the story.

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