Diary of a non-fiction book: an update

The last time the diary of a non-fiction book appeared was at the end of October 2017. I was about to embark on NaNoWriMo 2017 and the history book was going to be my project. Since then, I’ve not really done an update. So here it is.

The month of November was indeed spent writing the first draft of the history book. And by the end of the project, I just snuck in with my 50,000 words. They weren’t easy. I had to scratch around a bit. And I missed more days than I intended to. But I did it.

However, the book wasn’t really finished by any means. There was still a lot of work to do. There were still chunks missing, entire chapters in fact. There were blocks of text that needed rewriting. And I had to find some photographs as well.

December and much of January disappeared down a dark hole. We had Christmas in between and a number of personal family issues.

On 15 January, I was able to sit back and take stock. And I came up with a new plan. I needed to exercise my writing muscle and get back into the organised swing of things again.

The intention was to spend several days in February catching up on missing content and research down in the archives of Cadbury’s in Birmingham. The poet was to come with me for a couple of them to take pictures, and we were going to take time out to visit Cadbury World.

However, when I went to book some days with the library, they either couldn’t fit us in or the poet couldn’t take that time off work.

And so we managed just three dates in February.

On the first date, the poet did indeed come with me. He spent a good few hours taking colour photographs in a portable studio they provided, along with Cadbury-purple satin also provided by them. I spent the time scrolling through their pictures archive, making a note of any pictures I’d quite like to use.

We left the ladies of the archives finding out which of the pictures I’d selected could be used. As soon as they could they’d have the pictures ready for me on a disk.

During my second visit, I first called lovely-already-boss at my publisher who is handling this project for me as a writer. We had a bit of a chat deciding what to include in the book and what to exclude. I already had 50,000 words, remember. I had no intention of increasing that as it’s already a long book for this particular imprint and I’m quite good at cutting words where necessary.

Lovely-already-boss said he’d sooner have more pictures at the expense of more words. I’d initially promised them 20 – 40 images when they prefer 80 – 100 images, but as the word-count would be 50,000, 20 – 40 images would be fine.

However, following our photo-visit the previous time, I’d already established that I may actually be able to provide something closer to their preferred 80 – 100 images.

I wanted to know how far to go in this “history” as most of the interesting material happened in the first 150 years (they’re coming up to 200 years in the next decade or so), and I didn’t want the end turning into something quite dry and boring. We came to a compromise and I went in for my appointment.

I duly spent the rest of that visit collating material for just one of the chapters. The photos weren’t ready for me yet, but they would be at my next and final visit …

… only the next visit didn’t happen in February either. Because at the end of February we had that massive snow dump that almost closed the country down for a week. We were snowed in for five days. Both of us had to cancel any plans.

My final visit was rescheduled for last Thursday, 15 March. During this visit I collated the material for just one more chapter and I collected the disk with the pictures on.

The deadline for this book was 1 March. However, lovely-already-boss had already told me there was no rush. The book isn’t due out until next year and even though he’s considering bringing it forward to Christmas this year, there is still plenty of time.

I initially said I could probably finish it within a fortnight. But as my last visit was pushed back another fortnight, I think it’s more likely it will be delivered by Easter – my new self-imposed deadline. Including today, that’s seven more working days. (We have a very full weekend planned.)

I should be able to do my editing/proofreading within around ten hours, so my last two days will be spent doing that. That gives me five working days to finish the writing – not forgetting I already had 50,000 words and this is just “plugging the gaps”. And I already had a few days between last Thursday and today to do some work.

Once I have a complete manuscript I have the name and address of someone who may write a foreword for me. That, however, and the photo captions, can be done in between other jobs or once the main MS has been delivered.  And we have yet to arrange our visit to Cadbury World.

And that’s where I am.

It’s going to be an intense week-and-a-half between now and Good Friday. Please keep everything crossed for me. Thank you!

Are you struggling to complete a piece of work? How’s it going? How are you getting through it? Answers below, and thank you for reading!

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