Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Big cuts and scary times...

Editing. It's a scary thing.

I'm working on my second novel, Welcome to My World, which will be hitting the shops in November this year. It's all written (the fun bit), has undergone its first edit (a structural one - the not as much fun bit) and now, while I'm getting ready to do the line edit (the tedious but necessary, couldn't-be-less-fun-if-it-tried bit), I'm doing a major rework on one of the main characters of the book. Which is downright terrifying...

It needs to happen. This character just wasn't working and it's taken me a couple of months to work out why. Now the penny has dropped, it's time for some serious remodelling!

This bit always terrifies me - not least because I've technically 'finished' the book twice so far with the character complete in his current state. Deleting large sections of text and following all the corresponding threads takes time and nerves of steel, but it will be worth it in the end (repeat after me, Dickinson, 'It will be worth it in the end'...)

I have to admit that I thought writing my second novel would be a lot easier than my first. For most of last year I was like the proverbial rabbit-in-headlights as I went through the various editing, proofing and promoting stages for Fairytale of New York, on quite possibly the steepest learning curve of my life. So I assumed that book 2 would be simpler, less scary and altogether a more relaxed affair.

And then Fairytale went stratospheric...

While I'm confident in the story and characters for Welcome to My World, I'm terrified about my second novel not being good enough for the wonderful people who so kindly bought my first book. I don't want to write the 'disappointing second novel' and, most of all, I don't want to let people down. I was scared witless about my first book, but at least last year there were no expectations as everything was unknown. This year, people are counting on me. And that is both ultimately thrilling and downright scary!

I also know that I'm a perfectionist when it comes to my writing (although, sadly, not when it comes to housework...) so this pressure I'm feeling is completely self-imposed. It's actually a good thing for me to be a little scared - I trained in drama at university and what they say about stage-fright is absolutely true: the time to worry is when you don't feel nervous before you step into the spotlight.

So Mr Previously Unworkable is swiftly being transformed into Mr Believable Three-Dimensional. And I'll try not to think about the impending P-Day in November!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Quit while you're... um... behind?

Some people just don't know when to stop...

Yesterday I shared with you the, quite frankly, bonkers reply I received from UKIP. Well, it gets better. Much...

Quite a few people on Twitter asked if I was going to reply to the guy at UKIP headquarters who I shall henceforth refer to as 'Mr Ranty'. So I did. Here's what I wrote:

'Dear David

Blimey, um, thanks...

Problem is, if you've sent that complete rant out to everyone who contacted you about the campaign to save 6Music and BBC Asian Network, then it might just have persuaded an awful lot of people not to vote for you.

Bearing in mind that you are presumably canvassing hard for votes in the upcoming General Election, I would gently suggest that alienating anyone who is interested in the environment, anyone who reads The Guardian or anyone who considers themselves to be, as you term it, 'yoof' is perhaps not the best policy.

Nevertheless, in an age where the public rarely gets a straight answer from politicians, I thank you for your enlightening answer. I haven't laughed so much in ages!

Kind regards


And, would you believe it, Mr Ranty replied! Blatantly missing the point of my gentle suggestion that his original email might possibly not endear him to potential voters, he seemed to think I actually agreed with his 'reasonable' views. Oh, Mr Ranty, how wrong you are... This is what he said:

'Dear Miranda

Glad you enjoyed it.  Unlike the Lib/Lab/Con we always try to give it straight... and given UKIP's scepticism on anthropogenic climate change, few eco-Guardianistas are likely to vote UKIP anyway.

I'd ask you to visit [website address] and click on 'policies'.  You'll find the environment policy there, and I believe that it is eminently sensible.

All the best


Oh, that's OK then. Seeing as I read the Guardian and care about the environment (not to mention enjoying more than four channels on my television, liking both 'yoof' music on Radio 1 and the brilliant 6Music, and have no particular preference when it comes to metric or imperial), Mr Ranty won't be surprised to discover that I won't be voting for his party at the General Election!

So that's enough politics for me for now. It's been fun but it would be cruel to continue to mock someone who makes it so easy!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

All I did was ask them to support BBC 6Music!

I'm the last person to ever get political, but I just had to share this with you...

I took part in the brilliant campaign by 38 Degrees to save 6Music and AsianNetwork from proposed cuts at the BBC, part of which was to write to our prospective Parliamentary candidates to ask for their support. So I did... writing to Labour, the Conservatives, the Lib Dems and UKIP (because those were the four I had options to email) and received this quite stunningly ranty email from UKIP - a piece of writing that manages to offend just about anybody (good job I'm not a 'yoof' or else I might have been really offended). Global warming? Liberal-lefty rubbish! TV channels? Bring back the days when we only had four! And as for your metric malarkey, you can shove it - miles are the way forward...

But enough of my giggling - here is the very email itself in all its superbly subjective rantiness:

"Thank you for your email. UKIP is receiving many thousands of questionnaires on various topics (from protection of our precious woodland, to the hunting debate, to tackling global poverty).

I'm sorry but we simply don't have time to forward each of these on to the 500+ UKIP candidates. We're a small party that relies on donations from members and well-wishers, and are not backed by big business or, indeed, the TUC. I am afraid that we are therefore unable to respond to your query in great detail. This does not imply either support or opposition to the particular matter you have raised.

UKIP is a great fan of the BBC and recognises the huge contribution it has made to British cultural life over the decades. We also support a publicly funded licence fee. (If you've ever watched American TV you'll know what we mean). Nevertheless the Corporation has certainly allowed itself to dumb-down during the last few years, and seems to have completely surrendered to the liberal-left agenda.

One example is "Global Warming" which the BBC completely embraced, ignoring the fact that thousands of reputable scientists had grave doubts about the "science" behind it, doubts that have now burst to the surface. Another example is the BBC's insistence on quoting distances in metric when the British equivalent is 'miles'. For example, BBC journalist John Simpson, during the first Iraq War, doing a piece to camera: "The Iraqi positions are five kilometres down the valley." Suddenly there was a loud 'whooshing' noise and the air was thick with dust, stones and falling rocks. Off camera we heard Simpson say: "BLOODY HELL, that was 20 feet away!"

We might also add that when the BBC stops advertising its vacancies in leftie newspapers like the Guardian, critics might be more convinced of its neutrality.

If a miracle happened and the BBC ever returned to the Reithian doctrine of "Inform, Explain, Entertain", I suspect that it might be astounded at the positive response from the public.

On the issue of Music-6 etc... UKIP would have no objection to the Corporation shedding some of its services (frankly we think it already tries to do far, far too much) and would applaud a policy of fewer channels but of greater quality.

Before we opened up the airwaves to multiple channels British television (ITV and BBC) produced programmes of quality that shone throughout the world. Now we have literally dozens of channels of drivel, with advertising revenue so diluted that we are now at the stage where even Channel 4 is seeking public funds just in order to survive.

We cannot comment on which particular services should be axed... that is an operational decision for those running the BBC.... but we would encourage the Corporation to pay greater attention to 'middle-England' which actually pays the bills, and devote less time to 'Yoof', most of whom are on the internet anyway.

I could elaborate further but hopefully you have by now received the picture. Thank you for contacting us."

So, if you care about the environment, like reading The Guardian, are under 45 and like the internet, it's probably best not to vote UKIP at the General Election!
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