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Thank the heavens: I have done the bulk of the first draft of “Plank 4”.  Owing to technical mishaps it is a rather more confused draft than I had hoped for: there is one whole chapter missing, to be retrieved from my almost-dead MacBook, and all chapters written since then are not numbered but instead have “NEW” at the start of their titles, so that I can tell them apart.  Current word count (minus missing chapter) stands at a whisker under 62,000, which is what I had hoped.  There will be a bit of jigsaw assembly when I get home, but I’ve done the best I can for the bulk writing, and it means that the story is told, which is a significant milestone, and I had an extra chocolate biscuit to celebrate.

However, I still have four days of writing retreat left – husband arrives on Thursday evening – and plenty that I can do in that time.  I need to:

  • Go through the confetti of notes that surround me, saying cryptic things like “get Soho address” and (still!) “where does Rambert go on Thursdays?”, and address or discard each one.
  • Decide when in 1827 to set the story – it takes only about two months, so should it be spring, summer, autumn or winter?  I need to check the weather reports for the year, and also look at the other three Sam Plank books to see what would work, but I’m quite keen on a wintry January/February setting.
  • Having done that, add some comments about the weather – after all, Sam is an Englishman!
  • Go through the draft while up at the wifi zone, looking up anything that I have indicated with [[double brackets]] – this is how I tell myself that something needs to be checked, often etymology (would they have said that in 1827?) or trifling historical detail which I love but cannot allow myself to chase down as I write otherwise I would never write (what was men’s underwear called in 1827 – linen?).
  • Read the whole thing, making sure that all plot points are picked up and tied off.

Once I am home and can do that jigsaw, two more major tasks remain: putting dates on each chapter, and thinking of a title for each one.  The first job drives me mad (you’d be amazed how often you say things like “yesterday” and “four days later”, so that changing one date throws them all out – I have to print out a Big Calendar for the year and use a pencil only), while the second is an absolute joy.

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