Marinading a manuscript

When writing a new book I often feel impatient to finish it. There is really no need for this, considering that I enjoy the actual process of writing so much, and know that I am likely to feel a depressing sense of anticlimax when it is done. Melodramatic though it sounds, perhaps I am afraid I might die before the book is complete.

Modern self-publishing technology makes it easy to rush into print too soon. The front page of the Amazon kdp website says Get to market fast … Publishing takes less than 5 minutes. What a contrast to the old days when writers usually had to wait several months for agents and publishers to respond to a proposal, implement any changes requested during the assessment process, and then wait several more months between acceptance and publication.

I try not to be impatient because I know most books turn out better if they are written slowly, going through several revisions with gaps in between. When re-reading a draft manuscript after several weeks or months, I often have new ideas about how to improve it, and discover mistakes or inconsistencies which I did not notice before.

Though this slow staged method works best in most cases, it does not suit everyone. Some of the most brilliant writers – and artists, and composers – have produced their best work through a single burst of creative inspiration, not needing to revise it at all.

This is all a bit like cooking. A skilled chef using top quality fresh ingredients can produce delicious meals in a few minutes, but for the average cook most dishes are improved by being marinaded in the raw state and then being cooked slowly, and taste even better if reheated a day or two later.

I’ve just finished the first draft of my third novella, which will form a trilogy with Carmen’s Roses and Blue Moon for Bombers. I intend to discipline myself to put the new manuscript aside for a few weeks before doing any more work on it, and in the meantime start writing something different, step up my marketing activities, or even clean out some cupboards at home.

Foster kittens

As a result of the chain of events following the death of Felix I am now fostering two small kittens, a brother and sister whom I have named Marco and Polo. They came to me through the Lonely Miaow Association of Auckland, the same charity through which I acquired Felix fourteen years ago.

Marco is a male mackerel tabby, Polo a female tabby-and-white. Both of them are lively, playful,  friendly little cats. Fostering involves a lot of work but is very rewarding. I am busy all day long with feeding them, changing their litter trays, playing with them and keeping them out of danger.

I love them both, though not in the same way as I loved Felix, which is just as well because in a few weeks’ time I will have to part with them. When they are old enough to have been desexed, vaccinated and microchipped they will be ready for adoption.

Although Felix himself would no doubt have detested having them here, it is good to know that his death has had the positive outcome of helping other rescue kittens to find “forever homes”.

“Replacing” a lost cat

It is impossible to “replace” an animal who has died, and for more than a month after losing Felix I felt no desire to get another cat. This was partly because there is other feline company in this house, for besides having our own dear Daisy, we receive frequent visits from two male cats who live nearby.  Another reason was that I dreaded the prospect of growing to love another and then, more likely than not, having to go through the agony of bereavement again in a few years’ time.

Then I began to feel differently. I started scanning websites about cats available for adoption, and felt very tempted when I found a young black and white male who not only looked just like my own Felix but also had the same name. However, many experts advise against seeking a carbon copy of the previous cat – there is a risk that the two animals will always be compared, usually to the newcomer’s disadvantage.

Many experts also advise against getting another cat “on the rebound” while still grieving for the one which was lost. However there are no rules and sometimes this is the best way of easing the pain, at the same time as giving an unwanted animal a new home. On a recent volunteer shift at the SPCA I met a woman whose cat had died only one week earlier. She had apparently been crying ever since, but after choosing a new kitten to adopt was transformed with joy.

Rather than permanently adopting another cat myself at this time, I have decided on a compromise. Last week I accepted an invitation to become a foster carer for a local cat charity, and am very much looking forward to picking up two kittens – not black and white, but tabby – from the vets tomorrow.