24-25th February, 2011: The words that maketh murder

Oh, I missed a blog post yesterday, but not intentionally. This week has been/still is an intensive editing bootcamp as I polish Ludmila, My Love into the final draft for my beta-readers. This has also shown me that focussing solely on editing above all other writing activities was exactly the right thing to do – there has been nothing else but Ludmila this week, and even when I haven’t actually been editing on screen I’ve been editing in my head. Total immersion.

And it works, because I really think Ludmila is quite a good little book. It’s space opera sci-fi (although small in scale – there are spaceships and strange stars but everything happens in the dark on the wreck of a space station), it’s a traditional ghost story with all the trappings, it’s a mystery novel. As I’ve been working the manuscript over from top to bottom I’ve discovered new connections and plot threads which appear to have woven themselves into the story. As a person who is generally nervous of the dark (which comes with being a fan of ghost stories, I guess), I have on more than one occassion creeped myself out with the story and had to call it a night.

However, all that is merely the foundation. Once happy with the manuscript, it goes to my beta-readers, and they tell me what they think. It’s of no use whatsoever if I’m the only person in the world who likes the book. My gut feeling is that they will like it, possibly more than Empire State even, but once I actually send it off I’m resetting my expectations to zero.

My soundtrack over the last couple of days has shifted from retro 90s nostalgia to something brand new: Let England Shake by PJ Harvey. I’ve been a listener – I wouldn’t say fan – of hers since 1993, and until now have always preferred her first two albums (Dry and Rid of Me) when PJ Harvey was the name of the whole band. But her new album Let England Shake, recorded in a church in Dorset, is quite a remarkable album and one that I discovered with perfect timing. It’s folky and whimsical, but also dark and creepy, consisting mostly of songs about (for some reason) World War I. It’s an album of ghost songs, really, which seems to fit rather well with me editing a ghost story. The title of this blog comes from one of the best tracks on the album… it doesn’t quite fit Ludmila, My Love, but it has the right kind of tone and gives me an idea for another story.

I’ve reached page 354 out of 387 and should have the last 33 pages finished today. The total page count has been changing as so far I’ve added about 8,000 words to the draft in this pass.