Friends called Sue

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I have spent the last twelve months writing a story that has done less for my sanity than anything else I have ever attempted.  Normally I write what I want to write, as Iwant to write it and the whole process is organic and very satisfying.  That’s because I have always written in my own voice and I thought, my only voice.

My agent has a different idea.  She said, ‘You need to write about what’s happening now.  Write what you see and stop trying to base everything on what you remember.’ It was good advice but I was shocked at how hard it is to comply.   Instead of  finding  the characters instantly recognisable, they were vaguely familiar at best.   I watched them say things and do things I hadn’t anticipated and didn’t want them to do – it played havoc with my carefully crafted plot.

Having deleted more scenes than I have kept I was despairing. Was this story ever going to make sense and if it did, was I ever going to understand how it worked? It wasn’t looking good.

Then I gave it to Sue.  With a precision and incisiveness I envy, she read it twice and marked the page. ‘Here’s where it’s wrong ,’ she said. ‘Here’s where you’re interfering.  You’re trying to take it where it doesn’t want to go.’  She was completely right.

By the end of next week, A Grand Illusion will be complete.

Everyone needs a friend called Sue.

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