Sunday, 19 September 2010

Throttling darlings & it's all over bar the recriminations...

Throttling children or killing babies or strangling darlings (I can't remember the proper term but you get the picture) is when you have to get rid of marvellous bits of your story because they don't work; sometimes because, *little voice* on reflection, they are rubbish. It is very hard and I have not got the hang of it yet.

In the early drafts of my loomidob, The Shoes, (it's called something else now but I'll come to that in the moment) I have my female protagonist, Joan, winsomely swinging her tennis racket as she strides down the hill in the warm evening sunshine after a steamy summer's day. A few weeks later in the story my male character, Senny, attends a testosterone and lager fuelled FA Cup party at his mate Little-Al's house.

When I set out my timeline and desultorily checked a few facts I discovered that FA cup finals are played in mid to late-May. I changed Joan's winsome-walking conditions to a balmy spring evening.

Then, I found out that in 1975 (the year the story opens) the FA cup final was played on 3 May. A few weeks before that Joan would probably have had to feel her way down the hill into town, with tennis rackets lashed to her feet like snow shoes. So that scene had to go, as did several other lovelies.

In my last post I mentioned that I was sick to death of my title, The Shoes. Sick to death to the extent that I wished the title harm. I have renamed my story Doing Without. The term doing without is used by Senny when he is thinking about whether he would have sex with Tabard-Joyce on the cafe table; regardless of her pop-sox and despite the fact that she picks up discarded cold baked-beans with her bare fingers (See? You want to read it now, don't you?)

"Tabard-Joyce unpacks our order from her tray to the table and retreats behind the tall glass counter. Ted follows her form. He is wondering if he can overlook the knee-length nylons and the baked-bean fingers enough to fuck her over one of the tables. I know this because I’ve wondered it myself and we’ve discussed the matter.

I decided it came down to how long you’ve been doing without, but on balance and given the opportunity, yes I would. Ted thinks he’s still undecided, but he definitely would too."

So. There it is. My story is sort-of finished. It also has a form at last; it grew to over 36,000 words so it is no longer a loomidob and now qualifies as a novella. I was quite sad to leave to loomidob behind but that's what happens.

I polished (as they say) 12,000 words and I wrote a 3,000 critical commentary on my writing process and I gave it all in, in duplicate, on Friday 13 August 2010. I have been in stark-staring shock since; I don't know when the results are due and I dare not ask.

I declined an invitation to attend the MA graduation because I am too superstitious. I told the lovely lady who is in charge of Ceremonies that I could not arrange to attend a graduation until I know if I’ve passed the degree. Unfortunately the truth is (and this is shameful) I can't arrange to attend a graduation until I know *miniscule voice* if I have a distinction. There. I've said it. Shameful.

This blog was for recording the progress of my MA in Creative Writing and it is finished now so the blog is finished. Thank you, my other reader, you’ve been lovely, supportive company x


Anonymous said...

Fingers crossed for your distinction Kim, I've enjoyed reading your blog.
Kath (Parklover) x

kim mcgowan said...

Thank you, Kath.

Luckily, you and CJ are still doing sterling work at Parklover!


Susan Gee said...

Well done Kim. It's been fun reading about it. I bet you're both delighted and exhausted. Make sure you let us know how you get on. Good luck.

kim mcgowan said...

Thanks, Susan. And you're going to be at Manchester hobnobbing with Martin? Oh My! Well done! I hope it goes brilliantly x

Jenn Ashworth said...

I'm a bit annoyed that you won't be blogging any more. Will you not do an encore to announce your results?


kim mcgowan said...

haha! I'm not known for bearing my disappointments in stoic silence, Jenn. I daresay I'll make a little announcement...