I Have a Dream

Tomorrow, all things being equal, will be the last day of editing the Novel. After that, I’ll be creating a PDF of the whole damn thing and sending it off to people to read. If only it were that simple to get published, but sadly not. Once it’s done, and other people are seeing if it is enjoyable or not, there’ll be a chance to read this massive book to my right that tells me how to get it published, after which all hope of doing so will summarily vanish.

There’s a dream however that maybe, just maybe, it could all go to plan.

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If the desire to finger the World can be suppressed, albeit briefly, there is that chance. Confidence, which used to be the biggest stumbling block to progress, no longer worries. This is GOOD WORK, and there is genuine pride in what has been produced. Editing skills are light years better than was once the case. All in all, this is the best everything has ever been in terms of capability. Now it is time to capitalise.

There is also thought about what happens next.

I’ve picked the manuscript, will make a ‘new’ cover for it tomorrow, and after that, it’s all systems go. It’s another NaNoWriMo effort too, one that isn’t nearly as bad as previously recalled.

The second novel is already set to go.

Finally

At 5.30pm on Friday, March 30th, I was confident enough to make this claim:

When I stopped this afternoon, after removing everybody else from the house so I could concentrate, this is where things stand:

The last 40 pages are rough, but the narrative is complete. I’m going to spend Saturday night going through this to fill in the gaps and create a more consistent foundation. Then, it’s being left well alone until next week, where I’ll go back to the start and do a full edit pass. After THAT it’ll get sent to those people who’ve expressed an interest in reading it. So, if you happen to be reading this and haven’t made noises yet about wanting to help me out, shove a message in the comments.

Once other people have passed some initial comments, we can start thinking about how the damn thing gets published.

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I have zero idea how to formally approach a publisher: there’s no point in lying, and I totally understand just what a ridiculously cutthroat market I’m about to enter into. I am nobody, and this concept has to sell itself. Part of me is tempted to blog the process for the hell of it because I suspect it might make interesting reading. For now, however, this needs to be the best thing it can be before any form of selling takes place. I’ve got some books to read, and people on my feed I can ask. It’s not like I’m COMPLETELY dumb.

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Mostly, I am happy it’s done. It isn’t hyperbole: I have files with timestamps which date the original manuscript to 2001. It’s lasted longer than nearly half a dozen PCs and Macintoshes. My daughter’s been born, grown up, and is now at Secondary School in the time this has taken to complete. I’ve had major surgery. Friends have passed away.

Considering the narrative has time at its base, this all seems rather appropriate.

NaNoWriMo :: Day 13

Nanowrimo 2017

Well, here’s a thing. It is all going REALLY well. I’ll grant you, some of my writing is shonky as hell at this stage, but the plot is golden. I’m confident with where everything is heading, there’s no panic over motivation or characterisation. When I write my two leads (and right now this is simply a two character affair) they sit in my head with glorious clarity. There is reassurance and comfort in familiarity. All that needs to happen now is to keep the momentum going. The only fly in the ointment is that I forgot to update my word count over the weekend and therefore won’t get my ‘updated every day for 30 days’ badge. I’m a gamer, come on, this shit matters to me.

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That gap’s gonna annoy me, you know…

However, as you can see, I’m over halfway to completion… but I doubt I’m actually halfway through the novel. Looking at where I am the final total’s gonna be around the 70k mark, and I’m being pretty economical with exposition. It just happens to be a long and complicated story, and I need to tell it complete before I can go back and consider chopping stuff out. Right now, however, according to the stats, I’ll be done with 50k around the 23rd, which still allows time to get the thing finished at my level by the end of the month. I hope to put some extra work in today and tomorrow in order to push myself to about 35k. That’s what I’d like to happen anyway.

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I’m putting a lot of pressure on myself because I know how important it is with the limited free time available before Christmas. Most importantly of all however, I need to prove to myself I can go from start to finish and make this happen, because there are so many other half finished projects I could be working on apart from this novel, and they all could potentially make me some money. It has become a bit of a personal crusade now to show I’m capable of sticking with this through to the end, as that’s always the part of the process with which I fail. Saying you’ll create something is one thing, having the courage to complete the task is a different ask entirely.

Today’s going to be a lucky day. I’m going to make sure of that, and take a huge step towards a major goal.

Still Alive

What, we made it through Week One unscathed?

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I realised as we zoomed through the first seven days of 2017 that this blog is the poor relation of my three virtual spaces and that really ought to change, considering how (potentially) important it could end up being. I spend a bit of time in another virtual space whittering about the World and my health, and the gaming blog covers my affair with that MMO, but there is often no desire to explain my thoughts on writing generally. I still maintain this is the cheapest and best therapy I’ve ever experienced. Pushing yourself into uncomfortable situations and making difficult choices is never something you want to do for pleasure. However, at least where I’m sitting currently, that process of forcing mental issues via words is having surprising additional benefits.

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I’m a terrible writer. Words get repeated all the time. I fixate on certain adjectives. My grammar is often atrocious and I could typo for my country. Fortunately I have word processors and spell correction plus a lovely husband who’ll read stuff and a support network of friends with encouragement and support. These help fill the gap between inspiration and final result. Everything else is then a case of pushing myself and believing I’m capable enough, and some days I think I get by. It’s always a bonus when somebody reads something and comments positively, however I’d rather have someone be critical of what they’ve seen, any day of the week. Not being able to take criticism is an issue I watch play out every day in my virtual life, and the results are often not pretty.

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I am by no means perfect, and undoubtedly am always too hard on myself. I’m ridiculously formal too, and maybe if I stopped being a tight-assed Brit and did more about the relaxation stuff, my writing would further benefit. As it transpires, if I just get on with shit and don’t find ways to avoid it, relaxation happens by default. Also, and this one’s a bigger surprise, when pushing myself to interact with people, I don’t implode. That old adage about attracting more flies with honey than vinegar is often spot on, but it’s only going to work if you genuinely believe your own hype, and that’s always been the biggest obstacle I’ve had to overcome. It is a thin line to tread between being comfortable and creating that illusion. I know that the exercise has played a major part in this transformation. Last night, sitting in bed relaxing with a new playlist? I caught a glimpse of myself in the full length mirror I never use and it was 20 years ago. I’ll take the body from that time, and leave the selfish and negative mind that inhabited well alone. This is really the best it has ever been.

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The Bond fiction last year has a lot to do with the writing confidence. You can find it at the top of the page, or you can start by clicking here. It’s not perfect, and I know it will unsettle many a purist’s sensibilities inside the canon, but I really don’t care. Someone else’s characters finally gave me the confidence that I could create my own and make them totally believable, and that the Universe they exist in would be as acceptable as the real one. Now, all I want to do is write and talk about how much this outlook has changed my life, because it has, but only in conjunction with a lot of other things, and that includes pushing myself to do the mundane above the enjoyable on certain days. Therefore, I need to go do chores for a while before I do a session of cardio at the Gym.

Routines really matter in progress.

The Closing of the Year

I don’t recall being this optimistic at a year end for a very long time.

Perhaps it is the understanding that, after many years, death and failure no longer frighten me. What is of greater concern is that I won’t get everything done in the timescales that are available. There needs to be organisation, planning and ultimately sacrifice. It won’t all happen either, and so dealing with disappointment and regret need to be stuck in that mix. For me, tomorrow’s the restart proper on my Novel, and not the picking at it that’s gone on over Christmas. I have a plan for the second half all ready to go, I’ve been taking feedback on Part One from readers. Most importantly, I have a legitimate editor about to read and tell me if this is something they might be interested in preparing for me in anticipation for pitching.

These are exciting times ahead.

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This is the best thing I’ve ever written, the thing I am proudest of, and that I hope will finally allow me to become what I have always wanted to be. I have the ability and confidence not only to finish it, but to make a damn good job of it. I will do the narrative and my characters justice. They have faith in me to do so, too, so much now that they talk to me in sleep or at quiet moments and suggest improvements, make me think of better ways to do things. I am ready to get lost again in the story, and by the end of this month, Chameleon will be complete. I hope you’re looking forward to this journey as much as I am. I’ll see you here bright and early tomorrow… well maybe after a lie in and breakfast. Whatever happens, I’ll be writing tomorrow, and all will be well with the World.

Bring on 2017. I’m ready.

All I Want for Christmas is You

My husband phoned me this morning, and the conversation went as follows:

– What do you want for Christmas?

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– You have a standing order for cuddles. This is not helpful. Really, what do you want for Christmas?

– … Cuddles?

Honestly, this year there is nothing I really want. Except maybe this chair but it costs ÂŁ2000 + and I’m not that dumb.

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Then I thought about it. I’d like the Novel done (which I’m working on so you know, it’s going to happen.) I’d love a publishing deal. After that, honestly, there is nothing I want. I don’t crave anything. This is not about aggressive consumerism and never was. I’m remarkably simple to please. Treat me with respect, make me tea now and again and offer some cake and honestly, we’re utterly good. The Man with the Bag can skip me and go give someone else the cheer.

This is a roundabout way of me telling you guys that come the New Year I’m hoping to be a lot more active with general posting, and that the whole process of writing is still going on despite a daily word count update. I have a ton of stuff I’d like to discuss involving process too, quite apart from the other things I’ve promised myself to write. I just gotta get it all organised and out there and that’s always been half the battle.

If I’m quiet, you can guarantee at this point it’s because I’m working.

The First 50k

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I took a day off everything else yesterday because I knew, if I put my mind to it, I could finish the first 50k of the Novel. It’s pretty much written itself in the last five days, and I’ve now decided to take a day off looking at it as a work in progress and instead am reading it, like a novel, on my tablet whilst making copious notes of where I’ve contradicted myself. Then, starting Saturday, there will be two days of going from the start and working to the end and re-writing the thing to be more coherent, consistent and to fill in her holes (of which there are already several) Then on Monday? Away we go on Part Two.

I’d hoped to do more sharing of process along the way, but I’ve gotten far too involved in the journey, but that’s not a problem because now I have a month’s worth of alternative blog posts to play with. Let us begin, as seems only right and fair with the unofficial ‘theme song’ for my fiction.

In my imagination, this is the song that plays as the credits play over my fictional TV drama, which is based on the ‘Chameleon’ book. There’s a Baccarat table, at which someone is shuffling a pack of Tarot cards, the backs of which are the symbol of the Euclida (my primary group of protagonists). As each card is turned and laid, the pictures on the Tarot are of the actors and actresses that would play the roles of each ‘character’ as that’s how another of my protagonists both imagines and predicts the future. I’ve currently got Allison (who designed the front cover for Default) making me The Priestess, who is my primary female protagonist, Alexx. That’s how the original idea for this fiction took shape, but I have (amongst other things) a member of my husband’s family to thank for the basic inspiration.

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I’ve long held an interesting the powers of prediction, going back as far as my early 20’s, where my final year project at University was a Radio documentary around the myths and truths of Astrology. When I met my husband, it became apparent that his family has a link to prediction too. One of his Aunts is known as a notable psychic, and has a number of legitimate claims of validity to her name. Her daughter is also known for Tarot readings: I’m not here to either belittle or cast aspersions on them, because I have my own personal experiences of these ladies’ abilities. In fact, it is my one meeting with my husband’s aunt that forms a vital part of the thrust of the narrative. They say you use your own experiences to drive your imagination and they’re totally spot on.

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A lot of the book is wrapped around chance and circumstance, what might be truth and what could be intractable. This has always been a subject that has fascinated me, and it won’t be the last time I explore these themes, but this story has lived and grown in my mind over the process of the last five years. However, the story that now exists in words on a screen is in many places a long way from those original ideas, and has almost effortlessly evolved from one place to another. I’m really rather pleased with what I’ve managed to achieve thus far too, that this narrative is both strong and has a definite forward momentum.

Now, it’s time to take a moment to regroup, before I continue to push forward.

NaNoWriMo :: Day Seven

We’re a week in. Currently I am considerably ahead of schedule: so much so that yesterday I effectively took a day off. I reckon that once I’ve showered and sorted my chores for the evening, I will still have the opportunity to stick some more stuff to the total. In fact, if I’m honest, 20k should be doable by the end of tonight.

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I already know that I’m not stopping at 50k. Already there’s a sense I’ll need about double that total to get to where I want to be. Yesterday on the train I invented a number of plot devices I want to insert into the narrative: a friendship bracelet, a variant on the same cuddly toy given to successive generations of infants, a first edition of a very famous novel. All these things have relevance in the narrative. Now I just need to work out where and when they appear.

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Mostly, it is all going worryingly well 😀

NaNoWriMo ::Day Four

Absolutely the best thing about creating a Novel is that it is your rules and nobody else’s. That means, in the last two days, I’ve completely rewritten history. As part of that, I’ve needed to design an icon that will appear all over my ‘World’, which is a visual representation of the organisation in which my main character (and pretty much everybody else I’ve written so far) exists. I’ve been working at this for several weeks, if truth be told, and now I think I’m there:

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The fact it started as lady parts is really important: this is a female-driven hierarchy. It will be the symbol that appears on flags and standards, on the uniforms of the modern-day iteration of this ‘Regiment’and I can imagine it carved into the stone of ancient temples, castle walls and into the prow of ships. It will be a good luck charm, a ward to dispel evil spirits, and so much more. This is the moment where I wished I could draw better than I can, so I could come up with a modern graphical representation of this: I may give it a try as relaxation going forward.

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The word count really isn’t going to be a problem. I’ve stopped for the night, mostly because I need to think through my next scene, and I’m far enough ahead now to not worry about where this is going, because I know my destination. That means I’ve been cheating a bit and going back over earlier dialogue, but it is utterly worthwhile. I’m in a place that I cannot get enough of and utterly love, and the story as a result is just telling itself. That’s the most amazing thing of all, and makes me smile whenever I think about it. I have a story that really works, and the ease at which it’s translating from head to screen is a testament, I think, to the hard work I’ve done in previous months honing my craft.

This process has made me realise that a lot of previous ideas that have never made the light of day (and at least one that did) have come together to produce this story. Mostly, I can see all the influences and derivatives here, I know what has swayed this story to where it now lies. This is a fascinating insight into process for me as a result.

It’s also the most fun I’ve had with a NaNo since I began participating.

NaNoWriMo :: Day Two

Firstly, I’m STILL ON TARGET. Two days in and I haven’t stuffed it up yet. No cheating, no pretending I’ve written when I haven’t. Even though I’m broken from over gym-ing and stupid rep challenges I still did the work. Amazingly, this story is writing itself, though there is perilously little physical description of my protagonists at present. I can go back and stick that in later. For now, I’m more concerned with getting plot sorted.

The history I wrote works quite well as a general introduction, and will be particularly useful as exposition if required later on. Right now there are only two people to worry about, but the next issue will be to introduce a whole group of new characters and their relevance to this duo. This doesn’t frighten me nearly as much as expected. I also introduced a couple of things into play I’m really happy about, in terms of how this alternate world is described. Text is already being stared at with an understanding of what to keep and throw away. Most importantly of all, the skills learnt doing Bond really are beginning to bear fruit in terms of narrative confidence.

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I won’t have much chance to write in the next few days, but the youngest is having a sleepover Friday night which may give a chance to pile on some words. Right now, looking to the end of this ‘story’ there’s an understanding that this may be more than one book’s worth. The logical conclusion for ‘Book One’ is in one of three possible places: Central London, Manchester or New York, and there’s a bit of indecision as to where to go. For now, the narrative is sound to that last point, so if I wanted to leave the door open to continue? I could do just that. There’s never been an idea that felt like this for me before. Beginnings and ends were always the plan. To possess a concept that could run indefinitely? Exciting times ahead.

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Keeping a daily diary of progress is also really helpful, because there is an added incentive not to cheat and to keep momentum going. It helped a lot tonight that there was sushi as reward after a long day. It will help even more if I can get legs to work tomorrow and have another hour at the Gym. Working on a Treadmill is the best workout for my brain as well as body. Some of the best ideas come in the endorphin highs experienced from extended exercise.

I think that concept is more than likely to work itself into the Novel in due course.