WRITING A BOOK – THE START
I choose the most difficult process to write my debut memoire, 'This Could be Serious'. Grounded by the pandemic, I opened up my archive of hundreds of articles, outpourings, notes and blather. I chose a preliminary batch of 40, deemed suitable. I had them all as Word files, in a folder called 'Book'.
Soon I found the separation of each file difficult to manage. Research led me to writing software called Scrivener, which happily imports Word files. Once in, there is a list of files that – for me – became chapters. I could click once and read or edit. In another view you could see each chapter as a note on a corkboard.
The advantages of Scrivener are many. I could do a global search and replace, useful when an editor says 'you have some references to mum and some to Mum. It should be Mum when it is your mum.' So a quick find and replace fixed 12 of them scattered throughout. Or you could search for a name to make sure it wasn't doubled up.
Moving them into sequence normally would follow a timeline, which I did to a degree, but I wanted to mix it up. I don't enjoy traditional memoires where you plod through the story of birth, childhood, the parents history, school, first shag and so on. Yeah I have all this but I think I've leavened the mix somewhat.
My book is also neatly sectioned so you can skip a chapter without losing the plot. Hell there is no plot – my life is sometimes like a Loony Toons cartoon!
Then I started to write new chapters as the old chapters brought back memories. I was building a wall of chapter boxes on Scrivener, backing up automatically into the backup folder in the book folder, on the Desktop of my MacBook Air.
Until one night I had an uncontrollable laughing fit and tipped a full glass of The Architect Chardonnay into the keyboard! Stupid me, I tipped the thing upside down to drain it – without shutting it down. The motherboard was dead, and the Desktop was not backed up to the cloud.
Despondent for a few hours, I rallied and started again. This time I didn't re-write the difficult chapters about marriage failure – my gut told me the book was never to be about settling scores. The second coming, this time backed up properly, has made the book better.