You’d think that with Charlotte being away for the weekend again that things would have ground to a halt. But that hasn’t really been the case, they say that the life of a writer means that you never switch off and that’s pretty much true. I don’t think either of us can say ‘yep, we’ve switched off for a moment, haven’t done any work’ and if we have, clearly we were doing something wrong.
But that’s the thing about writing. You’re never off duty. There’s always something – whether it’s people watching or even reading or seeing locations, it’s all part of the rich tapestry that will eventually come to flow through the novels that we write. Or at least, that’s the theory anyway!
So, this weekend I’ve been learning a new skill: the art of editing. It’s something that we’ve all had to do at one point or the other as writers, and this isn’t the first time that either of us have done it. But, it is the first time one of us has sat down and merged both our work together.
Something that is a lot easier said than done.
But there is something oddly therapeutic in sticking two sides of a story together. To cut, to paste, to tell it from one character’s side or another’s. To see it all coming to life, dancing off of a page like the story we hope that it could be. It’s something that gives us both hope and promise that actually, we can do this and it can work. Sometimes we need the little moments like that to make us sit up and listen! But then, what writer doesn’t doubt their own work here and there? The one problem with editing is that it is tedious, and it’s a little time consuming and … yeah, I reached the point of deciding that I actually really wanted to watch paint dry. A feeling I was more than used to when I used to be doing revision but not something I expected to feel when doing something I love doing! But there you have it, I’ve reached the part of writing that isn’t so fun and yet needs to be done!
However, in my moment of ‘I wonder what this wall would look like painted lilac and how long will it take to dry’ coupled with everything else, I decided on shifting furniture around. Where I struck gold – not literal gold, I can only wish that there was a pot of gold stuck down the back of my sofa! – in the form of some writing that Charlotte and I had done years ago. In fact, some of the writing that had started us off on the path that we are on today … only with a remarkably different story.
So, poor Charlotte was subjected to various pictures of various old texts that we had written (I should add that the pictures she sent me were much prettier!). But the result was we were both able to look at it and go … wow, we’ve come along way. The material that we once had that has set us on this path, that has taught us how to work together. We’ve gone from writing almost one line character responses for one another, without feeling or emotion – or even a setting of any kind – to a point where our responses for one another are close on two pages long, they’re full of feeling and emotion and setting, of sights and sounds that we never would have thought of when we first started.
And that was something that I certainly needed. Something to look at and say ‘hey look at how far we’ve come, how much we’ve improved’. I look at the words we’d written once upon a time and realise that my heart doesn’t even ache when I read them – compared to the pain and suffering that Charlotte will now cause me with something she’s written. It was the gold dust that I needed to kick me into action and get back to editing. To see what can be achieved with a little perseverance and hard work.
I mean, if we’d both watched paint dry a couple of years back, we wouldn’t be here now! So I, for one, am no longer about to give in and think about watching that lilac coloured wall drying – not when I can be editing and putting together my part a manuscript that will be more than rewarding in the end.