Tuesday December 2nd – Day 28
I realise this is supposed to be a page-a-day diary, but… Last night, I went to bed and was just drifting off into the arms of Morpheus when I remembered something I’d forgotten, if you get what I mean. So, back out of bed and down to the keyboard: strictly speaking and if I was to follow my own rules, I had to finish the manuscript by midnight, which I did.
This morning, I woke not to mellifluous birdsong, rather to the grinding rumble of bins across pavements. Well, anything but the shouted conversations of cyclists. Funny how some sounds grate and others grate even greater.
Sat down at a respectable hour to clean up the paragraphs and line spacing; it’s all dull process and yet very necessary, as further examination throws up all sorts of anomalies and few of them are positive. You speed read the odd page and pick up pieces of narrative that trip you up mid-flow or just plain don’t look right on the page. It’s a little like a teacher proof-marking his own work.
So, what did I learn this time round?
I suppose the most important lessons to take on board are that I can write to a deadline and that I can be harder on my editing. Again, I’ll make the point: if it sounds like writing, it generally is and has no place on the page. I’ve also learnt that in order to get the prose rolling, I am apt to conjure too much wordy intro. Really, this is nothing more than the equivalent of stretching one’s muscles, either intellectual or physical, in preparation for a day’s progress. It might help in limbering up and cooling down, but it doesn’t need to be included in the main event. What else? I have relearned that there is no time like the hours before dawn for freedom of thought. I remember my mother, in an effort to shovel her son off to bed, telling me time and again that the hours of sleep gained before midnight were worth double or triple those after. Call it an old wife’s tale, call it a clever ruse, call it what you like, but my mum got to spend some uninterrupted time with my father when he got home from work, and I now get the requisite sleep that allows me to rise early without falling asleep at my desk. What else? I have also relearned that writing is the same as any other discipline: one needs to practice, even if one isn’t going to use the material. If you don’t practice; you don’t get so lucky. And we all need a little bit of luck now and again, even when sitting down to hunt for the next sentence.
Today has been a day of writing what we call straplines, the back-cover-blurb and dreaming up a cover: I’m not so good at this and I don’t really enjoy it, because I’ve found the only way to do it is to list all the characters in an order of primacy, apply the same to the events and nucleate – ghastly word!
So, here is the back-cover-blurb:
A woman alone, a clandestine immigrant on the run and a journalist looking for a story he’s going to wish he’d never found.
2.30 in the morning Easter Friday and in a layby off the Surrey section of the M25, journalist Simon watches as police officers discover a clandestine immigrant, Daniel, lurking in the back of a truck.
“What are you going to do with him?” he asked.
“Being as young Daniel here is sixteen and therefore a minor, we are unable to hand him over to the Border Force; so, we will be taking him back to the nick and hanging about until a representative of social services pitches up to take charge of him.”
“And then he’ll very probably be found hostel accommodation, which he will immediately skip and some low-life will sign him up to ferry drugs about for a County Lines gang.”
A car pulls up behind them; the driver, a woman, gets out and dashes into the bushes. It is clear to Simon that Shona has been drinking, so to save her from arrest he drives her the rest of the way home, with the police and Daniel following.
Three months later, the body of a young man is found on a building site in Thornton Heath and soon afterwards, a young man turns up at Shona’s door.
In the next few days, What You Don’t Know About Me will be available free to download from my website www.peter-crawley.com and at Amazon for Kindle. Also, if there is sufficient demand, I hope to have a small number of paperback copies available in the New Year.
I’ve enjoyed writing this diary and I’ve enjoyed having you along. Thank you for your company.
Ciao. Until next time.