Tuesday, February 08, 2011
I got my funk on this evening, and not in a boogie down productions fashion, neither.
It's a spinning my wheels evening, where I feel as though everything I read on the internet only reminds me how much I have been neglecting what I should be focusing on. I read through things written by friends, or by people whose work I admire, and to be honest I find myself kind of daunted by it. I sit down and try to write something, but find myself struggling to organise my thoughts into cohesive structures. Irritating, since it was always structure that I prided myself on the most in my essay-writing days. A good structure, however spurious your argument, guaranteed at least a B in those heady university days. Or those heady post-university, writing-essays-for-a-middle-aged-real-estate-agent-who-was-doing-sports-psychology-through-Massey's-extramural-program days.
But I look over things I've done recently, and they just aren't coming together in the same way that things used to. I know practice is a big part of it. Too much writing stream-of-consciousness dithers, to little structured thought. The NaNos are great in some ways for that, but to be honest I've only had at best a skeletal idea when going into them (and no idea at all in the first one). The first two came out by fluke, but are dreadful as is. On the third one, although I finished it, I came a cropper on the lack of structure, completely devolving into silly nonsense by the final third. Oh sure, it was fun silly nonsense, but nonsense is what it was. Let me tell you this: the next time I write a novel about satanists sacrificing a shipload of passengers to their dark master, I'll treat it with the seriousness it deserves.
I'm tired of being stuck in our current living environment as well. We've been surrounded by boxes for months now, after our initial burst of packing enthusiasm. We've been involved in the buying of our new place for four months now, and looking likely to stretch to five, at least. Our initial packing burst, as glad as I'm sure I'll be of it come the moving date, feels a bit silly. I'm not one much for feng shui and the like, but our current flat feels increasingly like some kind of prison-cum-warehouse, where we get to go on day release for work.
Anyway, just having a little moan. If not here, then where? The good news is, I know what I need to do. Just as soon as I get all my novel revision stuff out of that box. Tomorrow.
Somebody give me three words and I'll write a (very) short story. Go on. I'll do it by the end of my next weekend (next Monday). I can't even vaguely suggest it'll be any good, but I'll crank out something.
There you go. Proactive action. I feel better already! Time to reward myself with a computer game.
Monday, January 24, 2011
So, I guess it's time for a little catch-up!
1) Shaking Out the Dustpan
So, as you may be aware, I did finish my NaNoWriMo last year, despite my lack of blogging on the matter. Not sure what happened this year, but I lacked the sense of urgency and involvement I had in the previous attempts. Sure, I still finished, but it was probably my worst effort yet, and the difficulties I had with it early on, combined with a growing disillusionment with the story I was writing, meant that I just couldn't get excited about it. Well, 50,000 words is 50,000 words, I suppose, and the failures are as important a means of learning as the successes.
2) Defrosting the Freezer
Speaking of which, I'll be going back to my revision of my 2009 effort. It's been largely stalled for quite some time now, so I'm gonna have to start again from scratch, I think. Probably not a bad thing.
3) Scrubbing the Bathroom
So the ongoing saga of our house buying is...ongoing. We're at about 3 1/2 months and counting since our offer was accepted. It's all looking fairly positive in terms of going through, but we're waiting for lawyers to their lawyerly thing. Buying in this country is a ridiculously convoluted process, and it's easy to forget sometimes that we're about to put ourselves in debt to the tune of a couple hundred thousand pounds. As a warm-up we've been buying stuff we're gonna need. We're now the proud owners of a new telly, with a sofa and a bed ordered and due for delivery in 7 or 8 weeks. Hopefully we'll be in by then!
4) Sweeping the Floor
Work has been crazy. Two people are leaving, and I am about to go back to handling the book ordering for the store. Meanwhile libraries are spending money like they're about to lose it (they are), big changes are in the offing for our building thanks to a new owner, and we've got all kind of plans for the coming year. I've done or am doing a couple of little interview things (for the FPI blog and the Comics Bureau blog) and am on a panel about selling graphic novels at the London Book Fair this year. So that'll be fun.
5) Making the Bed
Things are all good on the married front. We've taken to having a date night, not because we're desperately trying to salvage our relationship, but rather because we've grown a bit too comfortable in our routines and both miss going out and enjoying what London has to offer, especially on the food front. Unfortunate, given we're about to have to start living on a shoestring once the mortgage payments kick in.
6) Writing the Blog.
And this thing, of course! Well, I've thought about getting rid of it, but, y'know, all the points I made in my last well-intentioned but doomed post still hold true, so I'm going to keep on with it. I won't make any foolish commitments to it, but I will get to it as often as possible and try and work it into my week somehow.
And that's about it! Now, time for some Xbox...
Friday, November 05, 2010
Words Written Today: 1,304
Total Words Written: 9,546
Still on it! Just had a couple of busy evenings.
Okay, today was my first below quota day (the first of a number, I'm sure), but I'm actually quite pleased given I only had pre-work time to do it. Happily, the big couple of days I had at the beginning And the trouble I'm having grinding out the words certainly doesn't help. I've not taken to this story yet, and the lack of research combined with what to me is an unnatural narrative style isn't helping. So far this is proving tougher than my previous efforts and seems to be taking forever to get started, but I should be getting to the meat of it soon and I'm hoping that'll enthuse me.
In other preoccupying news, out house buying has begun to proceed again after hanging in credit approval limbo for three weeks. Yesterday we were properly, officially approved for lending by HSBC, and then today I paid the surveyors to do a full building survey on the property, which they are arranging with the estate agents. Exciting times!
Wednesday, November 03, 2010
Words Written Today: 1,837
Total Words Written: 6,457
Quick one today, just to say that after an unusually long journey into work and then having real trouble getting rolling, I was relieved to actually hit my word count. Still just needed before work and lunchtime, but it was dicey! For the record, my daily required count is currently 1,613.
Tuesday, November 02, 2010
Words Written Today: 2,235
Total Words Written: 4,620
In many ways the second day is harder than the first. You're riding on all the enthusiasm of getting started on the first day, but the second day is only the second day of thirty, and the moment where it sinks in that you have to do this every day. Well, that's how it is for me, anyway.
So I'm still in this bloody prologue, which should come to its conclusion tomorrow. It's run on far too long, and will end up at around 5500-6000 words, I would guess. More than 10% of the total length! Well, an imperfect structure is NaNo Sin That Must Be Worked Through #1. To be honest there is a part of me that dreads finishing it. The narrative will switch to a third person perspective, and more to the point will effectively start again, which will be a little deflating given the ever-escalating nature of the prologue.
I tell you one thing: I've certainly not lost any love for writing horrific scenes. It's like tucking into a good steak.
Timing-wise, today was pretty good. I managed 1,300 or so words before work and banged out another 900 over lunch. Hopefully I can keep that up!
Monday, November 01, 2010
Words Written Today: 2,385
Total Words Written: 2,385
Here we go again!
So welcome along to National Novel Writing Month 2010, wherein I attempt to write a 50,000 word novel in the month of November. It's also now about the only time my blog gets updated on a regular basis, so stick around. I'll try and update daily with my word count for that day and the total amount of words written so far. Yes, I know an obsession with word counts seems crass and anti-intellectual, but to be frank it makes for a wonderful motivational tool. A shit-spewing motivational tool, to be sure, but an effective one nonetheless.
In case you're unfamiliar with the whys and wherefores of NaNoWriMo, I direct you to their website (currently struggling under the traffic it seems): www.nanowrimo.org
In short, it's a great way to blow out the cobwebs and get you writing, regardless of quality. To dismiss the activity as a waste of time because of the focus on quantity over quality is a mistake: as a tool for learning, any writing is good writing. Furthermore, if only 10% of what I write this month is salvageable in some way, or at least passable, then that's 5000 words of decent prose I will have written. More importantly, as happened last year, I may come out with the kernels of honest-to-god Good Ideas.
So, where am I at? Well, last year's novel still sits mostly unrevised. I began revisions on it earlier this year, but fell off the wagon in a big way. I still have all the coursework from the novel revision lessons I was doing, and I fully intend to go back and pick up again next month.
This year: well, to be honest I was feeling a little shaky about it. I had promised myself I wasn't going to do fantasy again this year. It felt like the lazy option, and I really did want to push myself to write something different. Not too different, as it transpires. I've gone for horror this time around, another genre which I know the tropes of fairly well. I'll admit it it: sometimes in NaNo when you're not going in with a detailed plan you've got to take the lazy story option. I didn't really have a clear story going in, and one didn't coalesce until I was sat having a coffee this morning. I guess it has actually coalesced to some degree, so won't be a total seat-of-the-pants affair, which puts me ahead of my first effort in some way, but I'm sure a few familiar story beats will creep their way in as I struggle to keep the words coming.
On the positive side, I am quite happy with the rough idea I have. Without giving too much away at this juncture, it involves a mid-19th Century transatlantic liner, ghosts, and Satanists. Probably.
And how was the first day? Well, firstly I have to once again praise my little EeePC 2G Surf, the trilobite of netbooks and among the most reliable, hardy pieces of technology I've ever bought. Especially considering the hammering I've given its keyboard; if you've ever heard me at a PC you'll know I'm a fairly forceful two-finger typist. Small, hard-wearing, lightweight - what netbooks were always supposed to be. Oh sure, I'm damn near out of storage thanks to XP slowly eating up the 2GB internal SSD (I originally had a stripped down install that came in at around 800mb, and now have around 70mb free), but it has some word processing legs yet. Just might be time to switch back to something Linux-flavoured.
Anyway! Other than the usually tough first 400-500 words, I was pleased with how easily it went today. It was my day off, which gave me a fairly relaxed time frame to get things done, and most of the writing was done in a Nero through the middle of the day. It was nice to rediscover that great pleasure that comes with writing material you enjoy, in this case a journal-narrated prologue whose tone draws in no small part on Arthur Conan Doyle's Captain of the Pole Star. Okay, it seems to be taking a little too long to get to the point, but I'll try and rectify that tomorrow.
So we're off! Tomorrow is a work day, so I'll be settling into the early morning/lunchtime routine which worked fairly well last year. I'll let you know how that works out.