Ghostwriter Diaries 15

NotebookRegular readers may recall how, a few weeks ago, a minor crisis involving a broken washing machine resulted in my most productive day to date on the novel I’m ghostwriting. Well, thanks to yet another domestic disaster, I’ve surpassed my record.

All right, it was hardly a disaster, just a carbon monoxide alarm triggering a chain of events involving the National Grid and a British Gas engineer. The downside is I’ve had to take another day out of my annual leave entitlement to wait at home for the cavalry to arrive. The upside is the cavalry did indeed arrive and my central heating boiler is now fixed.

The even uppier side is that I know the answer to the question on everyone’s lips: “What does a ghostwriter do while waiting for the gasman to turn up?” The answer is, “He writes approximately 6,000 words of first draft prose.”

The prose I put down today comprises four of the book’s climactic chapters. I wrote them at a blistering pace, all in one session, and you know what? I think it was meant to be. When you’re writing battles and dramatic showdowns, it helps to get the bit between your teeth and just storm through. So, embracing the serendipity of the situation, storm is exactly what I did.

The end result is that I’m now just two chapters and an epilogue away from the end of the book, with the best part of three weeks still left in my schedule. This raises the very real possibility of early delivery. I know that would please my client. It would also please me, because it would give me and the editing team a little more breathing space within which to hone the second draft. Writing fast is all very well – and it can certainly pack the prose full of energy – but it can also leave a few too many rough edges.

Luckily, today may have given us a fighting chance of being able to smooth them all out.

The other good news is that, unlike the last time I wrote this much this fast, the muscles in my back are still in reasonable shape. That’s because, instead of sitting up straight at the table, I spent most of the day slouched on the sofa with my laptop where it’s supposed to be: in my lap.

Well, a ghostwriter has to keep himself comfortable, right?

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