Friday, 21 June 2013

Chickens Vs The Shadow Fabric

Through May and June this year I held my breath and gave myself a headache. Two deadlines: finish my novel, The Shadow Fabric, and build a chicken coop. Alongside working full time and generally trying to live, I somehow succeeded in both. For more on my frustrations, see a previous post: Take the Time.

On the 12th of May, my wife and I chose to rescue some ex-battery hens. You know, do our bit to save a few chickens, so we reserved four to be collected on the 15th of June.

To make things a little more fun, I decided that I’d build a coop rather than buy one. I had a month in which to design and construct it. Besides, we wanted them to have a mansion, seeing that the poor things had so far spent their lives crammed in cages without room to spread their wings or even see daylight!

So, that was one project.

The other was to complete the penultimate draft of The Shadow Fabric. With the help of the Brighton Writers Retreat a week after reserving those hens, I surprised myself in managing to edit a monster amount of pages. And getting a gold star.

With such a successful day, I decided to aim for its completion by the end of June (two weeks after the chickens get to open their eyes to the world).

I finished my novel a week before they arrived, and completed the coop the morning we picked them up.

With one project ahead of schedule, and the other having downed-tools on the day, I could then breathe out.

Here we are, almost a week on, and each day we’ve been rewarded with eggs, plus I’ve begun to hand out copies of the novel to my beta readers.

I chose to make ten paperback copies using (including my own Photoshop attempts at a cover – I make no apologies for my skills there. I’m an artist of words, not an artist of pictures). Putting together the 417 page book was fun and, I must admit, ridiculously easy.

Here I’ll step forward to say I understand why people get excited, often ahead of themselves from what I understand, and self-publish. It’s just too damn easy. But I’m not doing that – these copies are for my beta readers only, as I say, and when they’re returned, peppered with comments, corrections and criticisms, I’ll be putting it all together and editing the beast yet again.

That will, I promise, be the final edit.

It’s strange to hand out my WIP (work in progress), it really is. Scary, if I’m honest. After two years of The Shadow Fabric being the largest thing I’ve tackled, I have finally let go. Indeed, I’ve unraveled the Fabric… at least, towards my beta readers.

Now it's off to make myself an egg sandwich, thanks to Kiwi, Clementine, Cherry, and Peach.

Author photo (c)Christopher Shoebridge
Mark Cassell lives in a rural part of the UK with his wife and a number of animals. He often dreams of dystopian futures, peculiar creatures, and flitting shadows. Primarily a horror writer, his steampunk, fantasy, and SF stories have featured in several anthologies and ezines.

His debut novel, The Shadow Fabric, is a supernatural story and is available from Amazon.

Twitter: @Mark_Cassell Facebook: