Improper use of the English language

Improper use of the English language

Too long since my last post here, because my head is firmly wedged into editing which I find can be even more all consuming than the actual writing is. Third pass on the draft manuscript and I may be changing the same words backwards and forwards but I’m also still finding typos. How do they hide so craftily? I changed the font style and size for this read through, and found five obvious errors in the first couple of paragraphs. Incredible given the number of times I have already read it, and scary to think how many more I might (will) be missing.

The error rate decreased as I moved on through the manuscript,  but this could simply be the result of my anticipatory brain adjusting to the new font. Should I change the font every two paragraphs? Phew! I ought to read it on an e-reader next, but I’ve already forgotten the formatting skills which would allow me to covert the Word document. I do remember that it took me a bloody long time to learn those skills the first time around.

Of course I wrote the words, so I know what they’re going to say. And that provides the eye to brain translator with a very efficient ‘ignore and correct’ reflex which is nigh on impossible to override. That’s my psuedo-science excuse anyway. Unfortunately the reflex doesn’t work on the reader who doesn’t know what’s coming next. I know this because as a reader myself typos and errors in other’s books are glaringly obvious (although I don’t scoff at them quite as much now as I once might have done, nervous empathy stops me.)

Note to self; first draft may be a brain dump, but next time at least try to brain dump with grammar.

It will actually be a huge relief to pass the manuscript on the professionals. The editors, beta readers and proofreaders who know what they’re doing. Me, I really just like telling stories. Having said that I know that I will be protective of my work, and overly defensive about any suggested changes. Foolish, because I loved how the editing shaped and sharpened A Bed of Barley Straw, taking my jumbles of impassioned phrases and tightening them up to form a proper (or should that be improper) novel.

I’m really excited about the cover design for the new book, which is looking gorgeous. (Reveal shortly!) Having a cover makes me believe that the book is actually going to happen (in a way that writing 100k words strangely didn’t.)

Oh the vagaries of the human mind. If there are any typos or grammatical errors in this post, kindly forgive them. I am all edited out (and I know that’s not proper use of the English language.)

Internet downtime and getting in touch with spring

Internet downtime and getting in touch with spring

There is a reason the British spend so much time obsessing about the weather. We have so much of it, after all, in rapid cycles. It rarely appears in the anticipated order.

The clocks changed on Sunday, to British Summer Time. April is around the corner. But the farm remains doggedly cloaked in winter shades of brown and fawn and dull grey-green. These islands and their inhabitants are growing impatient. We are holding our breath in nervous conviction that we will get a spring, and that it will be followed by a heady summer. Neither is guaranteed in the fickle British Isles, but our bodies yearn for warm and our eyes crave the dazzle of sunlit colours.

The Farmer and I took a trip to the Norfolk Coast this weekend past. Despite the threat of cold, high wind and rain. All was serene when we arrived at dusk, in time to catch a glimpse of the grey North Sea in tranquil mood, softly slapping the sand with that beautiful whooshing sound that I for one could listen to forever. The waves played their music as our view slowly faded. On Sunday morning we strode out and eagerly watched some crab boats being hauled on to land. The first drops of splintery rain caught us returning from our walk. From the windows of our cosy cottage we saw the spit become a soft downpour. The Church bells jangled joyously. The brave and the hardy passed our window with hoods knotted around their heads and bright umbrellas held aloft. The young and the old alike were noisily invigorated by the adventure of forging on through our changeable March weather. We watched a sturdy toddler in a pink anorak pause in fascination to observe the crystal water gushing from a cast iron drain pipe. She was right to pause. The spouting rainwater chortled out and splattered onto the kerb before streaming to join the small river on the road and rushing downhill to the land drains which pour back to the sea.

On our journey home, we ploughed through endless torrential rain that the windscreen wipers could not cope with. The wind slammed the sides of the car ferociously. We eyed high sided vehicles nervously. March is said to “come in like a lion and go out like a lamb” but it seems the reverse is true this year. A fallen tree blocked the opposite carriageway, and a couple of miles from home we passed a ‘For Sale’ sign at the exact moment when the wind lifted it out of the ground and sent it spiralling into a field.

Power was off at the farm, not an infrequent occurrence when the wind gets up. Our dustbins had gone to visit the neighbours (this is quite a lengthy journey where we live). But roughly an hour later I was out walking the dogs in weak but welcome sunshine.

I am reading “The Summer Book” by Tove Jansson at the moment. A beautiful, simple, evocative tale which is reminding me to notice the details. Just like that sturdy toddler in her pink anorak. We had no internet connection in Norfolk, and limited mobile signal. I lost track of what my book was doing. I didn’t tweet I couldn’t check in with Facebook. I failed to post my weekly blog. I have to admit I could get used to being out of touch. I can see the small, tightly clenched buds on the trees from my window.  I heard the strident bark of a restless dog fox last night. I could smell that dog fox this morning. As I type rain is cracking on the corrugated roof of the lean-to, but I can feel the promise of spring in my bones. My waters tell me it is going to be an absolute beauty.