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.
When you subscribe to the blog, we will send you an e-mail when there are new updates on the site so you wouldn't miss them.