Words

11 days in. Let’s see the numbers first, shall we?

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I’ll hit 25k on Tuesday, which is technically three days ahead of schedule. I’m still writing, then editing too, because as the narrative progresses, two things are happening:

  1. I’ll alter earlier narrative based on having written later narrative. This happens a lot, especially if character motivations change. In at least two cases in 72 hours, characters have changed sex and/or ethnicity. This requires earlier timelines or actions to shift.
  2. There needs to be dialogue. There always needs to be more dialogue, who am I fooling here. I am ahead purely because these characters, once on the page, start talking to each other in ways I have not anticipated.

In that regard, this manuscript is something of a revelation.

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I miss not having a graph of my word progress on the NaNo site, I’m not gonna lie. Maybe it exists somewhere and I’ve yet to relocate it. Regardless of this, it is all going amazingly well, and not having had an attack of writer’s block just yet, it can only be a matter of time before it happens. Plans are in place, all I can do is realistically work through it and push forward.

As to where I am in terms of story? Could not be happier. Things have happened that were unexpected. There’s better versions of ideas that first started their lives in my synopsis. Even if nobody else likes this, it will be my finest hour. To complete something like this has been the dream for years. My first novel my have been finished but it still requires extensive rewrites, because my abilities have improved.

That’s the biggest change of all, and it couldn’t make me happier.

Winter Trees

Welcome to the first of my #NaNoWriMo19 Updates.

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Things are off to an extremely positive start: in fact, I don’t remember having such a good first few days. It helps, undoubtedly, to have come into this with more planning than ever previously took place. Timings for this month have also been largely sympathetic; allowing several opportunities for clear, uninterrupted blocks of writing time. That will continue going forward.

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There are no worries or panics, either. This is the story I need to be writing, and completing it will happen. There is at least a part of my brain which thinks that 50k will not be enough, but that should be more apparent as we get into next week. Unlike last time, when the word total hit goal and then stopped, this is about completing the narrative. That’s what has to happen

No burning bridges or unexpected panics, and although there will inevitably be an attack of writer’s block somewhere, provision has been set aside. The eventuality is covered. All that is left therefore is the writing, sadly without my customary accompaniment of cake and biscuits. They’re both off the menu until  blood-work and cholesterol issues are resolved. Hooray for nuts and tea.

Mugs

I’ll be planning to post updates every Monday going forward, and next week will promise faithfully that this will be on time. It’s the arrangement of time post Half Term that got me this time, plus the front room reorganisation that still requires a measure of work to be complete. That’s the antidote to writer’s block, as it happens, but as we’re not yet in the realm of frustration, it’s time to crack on…

Fairytale

Quite early on in my online career, it became apparent that other people expected significantly different things from relationships than I did. Inevitably, it is impossible to reasonably control who decides to follow you, or indeed how they operate when interacting with you. Being kind, generous and understanding should be the default settings for everybody but inevitably this becomes unrealistic in reality.

I’ve spoken at length in other places over the issues that inevitably rise from being female and high profile in any kind of gaming capacity. Earlier this year, when asked if I’d want to talk about that in public, there was really no desire to do so. Pulling up past events as a signpost to the future might be useful in certain situations, but in this case…? it’s probably best that these sections of my history are consigned to obscurity.

Except, it is apparent, these issues never really go away.

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There’s been a bit of drama around my sphere of late over the business of online stalking. Knowing that it doesn’t matter what you do and that sometimes, people will latch onto you as some kind of personal saviour, is the lesson I wish more would take seriously but inevitably never do. Inevitably, enlightenment has to come from learning the lesson: you don’t even have to be generous to a stranger in reality to become a victim.

In fact, many people are learning that just existing and refusing to think or act as others expect they should is often enough to receive abuse. So many women in high-profile positions run the risk of becoming the fixation, crux of increasingly demented obsession, because other people’s perception of their personality is as far away from reality as it is normally possible to get.

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So, what can you do if you’re caught in a situation that makes you uncomfortable? Even as an obscure writer, there are ways and means to assert control. The most important thing of all, undoubtedly, is to not generate personal capital off the back of it or to allow the individual any indicator that their actions are affecting your existence. In that regard, at least, it is very easy to take back ownership of personal domain.

That last lesson is still one I’m working on, it has to be said.

Coming Up

It will several weeks before my dream working space is up and running. In the meantime there’s 10 days left not only before NaNo begins, but for me to whip a selection of my best poems into shape. In the midst of this all there’s also a bunch of single submissions to be done, many of which won’t cost me anything other than time and effort. It’s getting close to the stage where I need a year to view wipe clean calendar from Amazon to keep track of it all.

Crucially, none of this work is new, and is all being created off the back of existing effort. So, the question I find myself asking with increasing frequency is how much extra does an idea require before it’s good enough to be considered not simply as good, but completed. When is poetry ready to publish? When all is said and done, just how much polish is enough on your work?

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The best barometer I have of done is the Places of Poetry collection, all 24 of which are meritorious in my own head. Each one fulfilled the brief set out before I started: personal resonance, intrinsic link to the place being written about, plus a better than good technical standard. In that regard, polish was quite liberally applied to the raw works. It gives me real hope for working with my poems going forward.

Long form’s a bit harder, but reading through my synopsis today for NaNo there was a strong, unerring confidence that not only was my narrative basically sound, it could be established in a far stronger configuration if I swapped around some key pieces of action. As it transpires, the confidence that’s given me today’s helped to get a lot of those plot holes filled. It’s incredible what self belief can do.

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Instead of attacking the weekend’s folly with pitchforks and torches, it transpires all that was needed was a bit of polish: re-arrange the narrative flow and BOOM there we are, very much back on track. This has also helped me rearrange the poetry running order too, so that it too can have the appearance of narrative cohesion. Many of these poems were not written to go together but with the right connecting pieces, things can be constructed differently.

I really hope I can finish the poetry to my satisfaction for the weekend, because it will make my next project in December considerably easier to attack. In the end, all of this is a process of building confidence and accepting shortcomings. Everything will always benefit from one more read through and even if you know something’s pretty much done, there’ll always be a typo you missed on that last read-through.

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That’s what polish entails too, of course: spelling mistakes, proper grammar, the minutiae of common sense that often is lost when people focus just on their feelings and not the work as a whole. Those things are as important as a workable narrative and poems with personal meaning. Put it all together, and the balance becomes apparent, even at an early stage.

Knowing what’s enough is half your battle won.

Everybody Wants to Rule the World

As we established on Monday, my novel for November’s now finalised. The next step, as also committed to, is a written copy of the basic plot from beginning to end. I’ve been mentally getting this particular house in order during School Runs this week with my Spotify soundtrack, which has existed in several forms for a fair few years now. I realise already there are some gaps in action that need filling.

However, I can’t do that without the right pieces of music to help.

Music is immensely important to my creative processes: I can’t emphasise enough how much the right song will create vivid, compelling pictures in my head which I can then transcribe to the page. It doesn’t have to be classical either: this WiP has some unexpected pieces of modern music buried within… except I’m imagining them reinvented as folk songs, played on instruments from another time.

This musical accompaniment is perfect for my alternate historical setting, and it gives a special haunting quality to some key scenes. It’s also making me realise what an absolute godsend YouTube is for any writer looking to find the right atmospheric background for their endeavours. Now, if I could only find someone doing Prodigy songs on this instrument, I’d be golden… ^^

It’s likely the narrative’s gonna be done before the weekend, so that the missing pieces can be successfully filled whilst the most free time is available. Friday night therefore will be spent with headphones on and Spotify on my tablet, attempting to map the progress of what, I realise with some horror, will be the first of at least a two book series. There really is too much here to shove into one decent sized novel…

That’s a worry for another day.

Not Enough

From time to time I’ll see online someone advertising an eBook along the lines of ’10 Things Writers Do Wrong in their Manuscripts’ and wonder if it’s worth dropping the cash to work out whether any of this wisdom is relevant. Inevitably, when reading submission guidelines from magazines or publishers, there’ll be a sentence somewhere that states ‘you should look at our other work to see if what you white will fit well with our publication ethos.‘ I seldom do.

Questioning literary output is healthy. Realising your work won’t fit in everyone’s publications is an important wake-up call when it happens. However, how you then deal with those revelations can make or break confidence, often fragile to begin with regardless of other people’s expectations. As NaNoWriMo is looming large, getting my shit together then writing a novel is beginning to matter again.

However, which one gets the nod?

One is the idea I took to Mslexicon and got widespread support for. The other’s my favourite project from quite some time ago, repackaged and far more tighter than it ever was when the idea was begun. The havering has already begun: go for the vanity project I’ll actually enjoy, or finally complete the idea that might sell? Of course I could do both, but no good ever comes from splitting interests.

What is needed most of all right now however is the means by which brain practice the skills required to become a better writer: eliminating word repetition, showing and not telling… the list goes on. Trying to balance which of these two projects is likely to be a better learning experience is suddenly as important as developing story itself. Ultimately what’s most significant is learning and not travelling forward.

Of course I could do both, but in this case brain knows one matters more.

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As has been the case with Poetry, learning has bought better work, more maturity and a developing sense of an artistic voice. The same really needs to happen with fiction. I’m a realist, it’s obvious what needs to be done, and if I am to be ready for what next year brings, it is time to suck it up and do the work. It is no different than exercising, in that regard: a task, waiting to be completed.

What happens next is entirely in my own hands.

Slave to the Rhythm

This time next week, I’ll already be on holiday. Before that happens, however, there are some plans being rearranged. There’s also some other things that it would be lovely to start working on. The biggest single problem, undoubtedly, is time. Most carers will tell you that if you’re parent first and writer second, the latter will always take precedent because of the importance of individual responsibility.

Therefore you find time, whenever you can. 

After counselling, my attitude to a lot of things has inevitably altered, process that is still being considered and refined as time goes on. Sometimes it seems amazing that I finished that journey only five and a bit weeks ago: it feels like months, years since that ended. The reorganisation of factors has also presented both benefit and disadvantage. I know what needs to be done however. In that regard, nothing really has altered at all.

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It does feel like a trip into Wonderland, when all is said and done: doing a weekend in Leeds, re-organising my leisure time, having confidence to stand up and be honest about what bothers me. The plan, going forward, was to do a certain set of things in a particular order, but the reality is that there isn’t enough time available to do so. Therefore, the plan has changed.

Vanity projects have become considerably more important.

I don’t want to talk any more about it just yet, not until I’ve been able to work it what it is I want to do and how it happens. However, there’s a lead in now available in mid-September to this next phase of existence, and that’s what I’m going to aim for. After that, it’s all about how well my knowledge will spread to accomplish what then needs to happen.

If this does work, I’ll be really very happy indeed.