Tag Archives: iPad

Diary of a hopeful author: How I write to Snow Patrol

It’s “Wednesday Wafflings” when I post the latest entry in my Diary of a Hopeful Author…Photo of a Diary

When I was fifteen I wanted a personal stereo. I used to watch anyone else that had one and feel envious of their headphones plonked on their heads like a steel crown. The earpieces were foam circles, little pieces of squashy heaven that transmitted music for your own amusings without anyone else being able to hear.

When I eventually got one following a long, hard campaign to my mum (poor woman), I was made up. You never saw me. I was lost in a world of tinny 80s music; Madonna’s Material Girl and Kajagoogoo were my friends. It was the best thing ever. Fifteen and switched off from the world.

Anyone’s who’s seen a fifteen year old will know switched off is common, much like tutting is common to those over 40. We all switch off (and tut) of course. We can’t help it. In fact, I’d go so far to say that it’s essential. This week, switching off while I write has been the way to roll. But, since I’m not fifteen anymore and therefore not living in a 3-bed with my brother and sister fighting over whose turn it is to be last in the re-used bath water, I can do what I like. And that means music.

Technology, much like my age, has moved on. Now we have iPods and boy do I like to use ours. TVs moved on, too – i.e. you can watch it on your iPad on catch up – which means the Ian Rankin Imagine programme on BBC2 I mentioned last week has been an inspiration again this time round. You see, when Ian writes, he switches on some music first. But it ain’t just any old jingle. Nope. When Ian Rankin writes his books, he listens to the same tunes. I know, I sat up at this point and listened too.

You see, what he does is play the same band on his CD player and when he hears that music it signals him to write. It switches on, if you will, his writing button. Bit like hearing an ice-cream van and being catapulted into childhood. Or the dentist’s chair. Whichever.

So, I thought I’d give Rankin’s roll a whirl, just with more technology. Shunning CDs and selecting an iPod, this week I have been working on novel number 2 to 90% Snow Patrol and 10% Stone Roses. And do you know, it works.  Who knew? Normally, if you remember maybe from an earlier blog post of mine, I’d write to episodes of 24 on Love Film.com, and while this is fun, it’s not always productive. All the more made a nightmare by the fact that I have an Xmas deadline for editing this darn book. Bottom line: I have to FOCUS. Holy Jesus.

So thank the lordy lord that Snow Patrol is working for me. The foam circles from my personal stereo of the 80s have been replaced with little buds that slide out when I move, but hey ho. When the music’s on, my mind does this shift thing where I am instantly thinking like the main character. And, given that main character has just had a sex change (in a way…), this is a vital focussy type thing.

I am now over half way through the edit. Hold me to this, won’t you. Get on my case. I have to finish this thing by Christmas, at which point I will switch off from everything. Accept this time, no longer being fifteen, it’ll be with (several) sherries.  When I was fifteen, it was spirits siphoned from my mate Antonia’s parents’ drinks cupboard. Don’t ask.

If you want to catch the Imagine show with Ian Rankin, I’ve popped on the BBC iPlayer link Click here >>

 Out tomorrow “Thursday Thoughts” where I post my latest Gazette newspaper column to my blog. This week I’m talking about the why I just don’t get what youth centres are for…**

Diary of a hopeful author: How a deadline can make stuff happen

It’s “Wednesday Wafflings” when I post the latest entry in my Diary of a Hopeful Author…Photo of a Diary

When I was young I loved studying. Loved it. I was one of those spectacled, nerdy kids who lapped up the books and got down to some serious studying every evening and thought it fun. FUN. 

That’s right. You heard correctly. Then exams came round. Exams. I’m afraid to say they never really fazed me. Christ, I sound like a right arrogant muppet, so let me explain. Exams got me nervous, of course. Exams made me question whether I knew anything. (30 years on, nothing’s changed there…) But, BUT, exams came with a deadline. A deadline! They gave you a date! You had to be there. On time! Oh it sang to my young time-concious heart like Romeo to Juliette, or Homer to Marg.

Because, you see, I love a deadline. What can you do with a deadline? You either meet it or you don’t. You sink or you swim. And that’s why I like ‘em. Deadlines are the take no prisoner guardians of time. They stand by the gates of hours and minutes, tapping their watch, shotgun in hand. You’ve got a deadline? You meet it, punk! (that sounded better in my head)

And so, to my week. I have set myself a deadline. I refer here to the editing of my book, novel number two which, it seems I have been working on forever.

Now look, I don’t know about you but I can be a cracking procrastinator. Olympic medal winning. Skirting boards need cleaning? Pass me the cloth. Cupboards need re-organising? When do I start? Kids’ rooms need cleaning? Get me…Actually, no. It’s not come to that.  You get my meaning. Add this top draw procrastination into a book edit and well, you’ve got nothing, really. No progress or, at the very least, slow progress. And so I have now turned to my old friend the deadline. If I am going to complete the 1st (only the first!) edit of this novel, then I need to get down and dirty with time.

The deadline I have set is Christmas. Christmas. I say it again so you can remember it. You can remember it so you can hold me to it. Oh crap. Saying it on this blog, you see, means I have to do it. Think of yourself as my boss, if you will, telling me to get the bloody work done by Christmas or goddammit I’m outta here! (Again, better in my head).  Meeting the deadline means averaging two edit chapters a week at minimum, sometimes more. It sounds lame, two, but trust me, it’s a lot. I have 100k words to edit. 100k words with a lot of Lovefilm app distraction on my iPad.

If you’ve got a deadline, then buddy, I salute you. If not, then go get one. Let’s do this deadline thing together, people, because, when our backs are up against the wall, it’s the only way to get things done. Nerdy glasses optional.

 Out tomorrow “Thursday Thoughts” where I post my latest Gazette newspaper column to my blog. This week I’m talking about the UK Police Commissioner elections and how ridiculous they are…**

Diary of a hopeful author: Hey! How an iPad can help you edit…

It’s “Wednesday Wafflings” when I post the latest entry in my Diary of a Hopeful Author…Photo of a Diary

 These iPads are the thing aren’t they? I mean, really, they’re snazzy. Have you got one? Tap it. Go on. Hmm? You‘ve not got one? Okay, so reach over and tap someone else’s. What’s that? It’s the bloke’s next to you sat on the train? What the hell. Give that screen a little slide.

You see, as I write this, I have an iPad by my side all flat and sleek like washboard stomach at a gym. But, thing is, I haven’t used it much for writing. Well, I say much, not at all really. And the Love Film app, it turns out, doesn’t count. You see, if you follow this Wednesday Waffling/Diary blog (and MASSIVE thanks if you do) you’ll know from previous entries that I am in the throes of editing my second novel. It’s not been going so well.  Thankfully, I’ve figured out that editing a book is like painting a picture – it’s got to be done in layers, like the colours on canvas. I’ve also figured out that it takes time and patience. I know, doesn’t take Einstein to figure that one out. 

The tricky thing I’ve been finding this week though is that when I’m editing my novel, I’m not reading it, you know? I mean really reading it, like a reader. But woman! You may be saying. You are reading the thing, goddammit, you’re editing it! And yes, my friend, you’d be right. But, trouble is, I’ve not been reading my novel like I would if it wasn’t mine – and this is the nut at the centre of my issue. 

iPads- snazzy & handy for editing. Who knew?

You see, when you’re at stage one of editing a novel you have to look at the bigger picture issues. Does the plot make sense? How is the characterisation working? Is the POV – the point of view – right? All bullet-landing questions and ones, I’ve discovered via mild swear words muttered at my laptop in the small hours of the morning,  that I cannot fully answer when I’m pouring over every detail on the laptop screen, my eyes literally seeing double as I stumble jelly legged to the kettle in desperate need of more caffeine.  

So, imagine my surprise when I discover that the answer to all my problems lies not in a new foundation from Bobbi Brown (although, given my current caffeine complexion, that may also help), but in the iPad. My iPad. And, specifically, the Kindle app on my iPad. 

What I didn’t know that I do now is that you can send PDF files to a Kindle/Kindle app and then read it on said technology. Whoa! This is the gold nugget, people. Because, you see, reading on a Kindle is, you know, just like reading a book. Are you with me? And so, if I sent my draft novel as a PDF to the Kindle app on my iPad… yes! Do you see where I’m going here? Of course you do, you sharp tack in the box, you! By reading my novel on my iPad/Kindle, I can view it JUST LIKE A READER WOULD. Ta-da! Seriously, I cannot believe I didn’t think of this before. It’s like discovering that I actually do like dark chocolate all over again. 

So, what I am doing now is going through the 1st edit stage of my novel using my iPad/Kindle. I read my draft as I would any other book on the Kindle app and then, on the table, I have open my laptop on which is the novel as a word document. Then, when I read something that needs editing, I tap on the laptop and hey presto! Progress! You knew? It’s the ‘reading it like any other book’ bit that’s the key here. By reading my novel in this way I am more objective. I can see what readers might see, not just what I see, which is, let’s face it, coming from a highly critical stance. Yup, writers are their own worst critics, and, as it turns out, their own worst eyebrow pluckers, but that’s another story (why do tweezers hurt so much?).

So, for the rest of this week I shall be iPadding. I will be using my iPad Kindle app thingy to edit my book at this all-important big picture stage. Hopefully, it will help me steer the novel in the right direction. And if not, at the very least, it will mean that I am using my iPad. It has apps! It has games!  It has instant celebrity gossip magazine access! Oh yes, iPads really, really are the thing.

So what d’you think? Is the iPad really the thing? What’s your thing for editing or, hey, reading, you know, books? Let’s hear it.

Out tomorrow “Thursday Thoughts” where I post my latest Gazette newspaper column to my blog. This week I’m going back to wind turbines and looking at the cold, hard data, people…**