I’m knee-deep in what I’m calling the third draft of my young adult novel (which is tentatively titled the sea between us). I’m planning to finish this draft by mid-to-late October and send it out to a few select friends for feedback.
My previous attempts at editing were always done on the computer, but I found that I was ignoring some parts of the book and only focusing on favorite passages. So I printed out the entire thing and I’m taking it one page at a time, writing all of my changes in pen, and then going back and updating in Word. I’ve had to add a lot, because one of my main (constructive) criticisms during the editing process has been “elaborate here!” Anyway, I’m just over halfway done with this process, and it’s starting to go faster because the second half of the book is a bit stronger than the first. The second half has also been more heavily edited.
A couple of months ago, I decided I needed a better, more permanent place to write, so I commandeered the old IKEA couch in the sunroom as a writing station. I moved a small bookshelf to one side of the couch, and I keep my paper copy of the second draft in it, along with all of my handouts from the creative writing class I’m taking. I’ve also got a copy of The Elements of Style there, because you should never be more than three feet away from one of those, in my humble opinion.
On top of the bookshelf are three funky orange statues of Ganesha that I got in India. I just thought they looked nice there, but I recently did a little wikipedia-ing and discovered Ganesha is considered to be the Lord of letters and learning. So I guess that’s a happy coincidence. I also have a coaster on top of the bookshelf, because I almost always write with a hot beverage (it’s usually a cup of Barry’s tea, but sometimes it’s chai, or hot chocolate, or something stronger). Since it’s getting colder, I’ve recently added a cinnamon candle, my go-to fall and winter scent.
I am almost always joined on the writing couch by my dog Murphy. He likes to sit right next to me, preferably resting his head on my ankle if possible. I usually have the computer in my lap; if not, he tries to sit there instead. It is really hard to write with a 14-pound licking machine sitting on you. Because he is my writing buddy, I included him in the book by naming the main male character Eoghan Murphy.
Music definitely helps me focus, so I like to write with headphones on. Sometimes, I just put on last.fm and play my library, my recommendations, or a specific artist’s station. Sometimes I use iTunes on the laptop, which has everything we’ve purchased in the last year or so (the rest of our music collection is still on our sick, hibernating desktop computer). Occasionally I’ll use my iPod, but that hasn’t been updated in over a year (see above reference to sick, hibernating desktop).
I actually made a mix CD for a friend that was taken directly from the book (his review here, which also includes a short synopsis and excerpts from the un-edited, very rough first draft of the novel). If I were to make an extensive playlist inspired by the sea between us, these artists would definitely be included:
Antlers, The Arcade Fire, Band of Horses, Belle and Sebastian, Bright Eyes, Camera Obscura, Coldplay, David Bowie, Destroyer, The Divine Comedy, Grand Archives, Great Lake Swimmers, Hefner, Jens Lekman, Sondre Lerche, The Lucksmiths, Mates of State, Morrissey, My Chemical Romance, The Pains of Being Pure at Heart, Phoenix, Ra Ra Riot, REM, The Shins, The Smiths, Super Furry Animals, Tindersticks, Trembling Blue Stars, The Twilight Sad, We Were Promised Jetpacks… and many more.
As you can see, it leans heavily toward indie rock with some good ol’ fashioned teenage angst thrown in there. Not only is this my favorite sort of music, but it also figures heavily in the story. Many of these artists or their songs are actually mentioned by my narrator Emma and her friends, and I got inspiration for the songs Emma’s band writes from these bands (I’m no songwriter).
It’s been fun writing a book that includes so much of my passion for music. It will be a challenge when I stop writing about these characters and start something new and different. I don’t really want to pigeonhole myself as the girl who always includes a ton of music references in her books, but it’s gonna be hard to leave them out.
If any of you out there are writers or are involved in some other creative thing, I’d like to hear about your process. Where do you write/create/whatever? What inspires you? How do you keep from procrastinating?