Discover more from Meg’s Musings
on finishing things, transitioning seasons and preparing for the next thing
Thank you to all those who reached out to me recently about pushing the end, setting deadlines and filling up my cup. I am delighted to say that I hit my deadline of completing the first (and most likely, ugly) draft of my manuscript that I’ll call DBW cryptically because I’m not sure of its title yet. I finished it at 11.45pm on 31 May, fifteen minutes before deadline.
I had been out for a dinner with my hubby’s work mates (long story but the short version is that he was away so I went in his place) at The Raclette Igloo experience on the top of the carpark at Fed Square in Melbourne.
It was a strange experience sitting in warm plastic bubble/igloos on a warm May night. We were given plates of cured meats and cheese that we melted and poured over hot potatoes and cured meat until none of us could eat any more cheese (yes, there is a limit). There was also mulled wine, sparkling French wine and great conversation (learning a lot about my hubby in his natural work habitat). It all finished around a small fire pit with enormous marshmallows) They were heading onto drinks at a bar and I did the quiet slip away and went home knowing I still had words to write.
I wasn’t sure that I could make it (especially with all that cheese and wine in me), but at 11.45 I typed ‘The End’ (don’t judge me…I don’t normally write those words, but I wanted the photo for socials - proof, if you like, that I had done the thing I said I was going to do). Big breath out. Relief. It was done, for now.
I had done the thing I had set out to do and completed it at the season’s end.
The next morning, it was winter. I slept in then embraced the new season. In the past, I haven’t looked forward to winter despite it being my birthday season (this Sunday, if you wanted to know…). I’d created a narrative around it being the season I disliked, that it was miserable and that I hated being cold. This year, I wanted to change that narrative.
At the last minute, I joined my husband and two sons in the Push-Up Challenge for two reasons. One is that it will hopefully raise awareness and money for suicide prevention. I have spent many years in a caring role for a few people who have been at the edge of it and I know people who have lost someone to suicide. In the same way that I walk during October to try to raise much needed money for mental health, I will now be doing the same in June. The other reason (the WIIFM reason) I am doing it is to give my fitness a kick. I’ve opted for the half challenge mostly because I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to meet the daily targets and I break the push ups into push ups, sit ups and squats. Nine days in and going well. I’ve completed 527 pushups (or alternatives) already!
So far the donations received have raised the equivalent of assisting lifeline to fund phone calls for 7 people so far (average cost = $39). Enormous thanks to everyone who has donated. If you want to support me, follow the link.
I have also decided to hit my 10K steps every day. I recently had a diagnosis of sleep apnea on top of my ever-increasing list of health complications and know I have to make lifestyle changes to improve my health outcomes. Walking everyday is one of them. The glorious things about it are seeing so much of the morning or evening as I walk, listening to the bird life, watching the world going about its business. It’s helping me to embrace the day.
What’s next for my writing
I know there’s a bunch of people who read this who are not writers and are curious about what finishing a draft means (some of the questions have been, does this mean it’s published) and what’s next so I thought I’d outline my fuzzy process, noting that every writer has their own process.
My vague and fuzzy process that I kind of follow on every manuscript
Idea: jot things down, write a few scenes, get a feel for it
Structure: draw up something that looks like what I think the story structure is, often from reading other books with a structure I like and that I think suits this story
Deadline: set a deadline for finishing a first draft (a season works well as mood can change enormously with the seasons)
Write: write the manuscript, trying not to go back and start editing as I have found I don’t really know what the story really is until I’ve completed this draft
Note: Make notes on what I already know what needs to change, on things I want to research before diving back in
Rest: shut the document in my computer and let it rest for at least six weeks
Research: all the things that caught my attention in the first draft
Read: print out the manuscript to read and make notes on what I think needs to change, which includes the structure, point of view (who’s telling the story), tense (past or present but never future), characters (asking myself questions like: who’s in there and why, do they all need to be there, what role are they playing in the story, are two people in fact one?)
Edit: begin the next draft in a new document - this ensures that I can always track my way back to scenes that I may have cut in the next one that I decide I want back.
Rinse and repeat
The manuscript known as DBW is now resting until August, which means it’s time to blow the dust off The Needleworker’s Daughter and work out what it needs next.
I’d planned to jump straight into it, working from the start to the end, but in the headiness (or exhaustion) of completing the other one, I fell down a rabbit hole of finding every little bit of feedback I’d received so I could look for similarities, things that stand out, things that ring true.
This rabbit hole also brought to light my cluttered computer filing system, highlighting a need to clean it up. Which brings me to writer administration. Probably the thing we like to do least as it takes us away from the actual job of writing. Some of the writing admin I’ve done over the last couple of week and will probably still be doing next week include:
printing out the first draft of DBW
clear inbox of all unread emails and quickly
clean up my desk
create reading piles for DBW & The Needleworker’s Daughter
update my submissions spreadsheet
deal with my 100+ open tabs in my browser.
Succession (I’m only up to Season 3 so no spoilers please) - all awful people but I can’t look away
The Great - a historically inacurrate hilarious romp
Utopia - loving the new season already
Barry - awful, wonderful, hilarious
Prettier if she smiled more by Toni Jordan (witty, funny, clever)
Where light meets water by Susan Paterson (historical, beautiful)
Small things like these by Claire Keegan (short novel that packs a punch)
The Archer by Paulo Coelho (short novel with life lessons)
I also picked up an Agatha Christie from the library out of sentimentality but after reading a page, realised how dated they are.
You’re Welcome: My story (Hilary Rushford telling the train wreck of her publishing story - equal parts engrossing and anxiety inducing)
Not Just about Copy where Emma chats with a mate from Improv Viren (a great episode and podcast for anyone working with content. I love Viren’s loved quote that he as applied to his work: think big, start small, move fast)
Until next time, my friends, x Meg
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