Clean, Clean

As part of the ongoing process of standardising website design and making more sense of what is becoming a considerable written portfolio, you’ll start seeing some changes to the look and feel of the website going forward. Initially a lot of it will be cosmetic, but behind the scenes there will need to be some expansion of existing spaces. There are NEW THINGS coming in 2019, and I’ll need room to accommodate them all.

First of all, however, we need to clean up outstanding backlog.

Beneath

Beneath was begun in August and never completed, because I was on holiday and was subsequently hospitalised… and then it took me ages to get back to being organised, and… well, if you’re paying attention, you get the picture. I’m about to schedule the last ten parts of this story today, which marks the end of a fairly significant period of personal growth. I’ve learnt a lot about the craft in that time, especially thanks to attending Mslexicon in July.

Therefore, going forward, short stories will have more prominence. First and foremost the NaNo behemoth needs finishing first, but once the dust settles… these daily doses of fiction keep me keen, and force a particular working/writing style. I don’t want to be without them, but at the same time I have stand alone tales that won’t work in the format. Needless to say, there’s plans to make the most of them wherever they end up.

Stardust

This is a part of my output that gets a lot of attention on Social media, and I fully intend to keep capitalising on that interest going forward. To find new and better ways to tell stories using existing media has always been my desire… which means next year branching out to use other forms of media as a basis. Instagram has given me a lot of pause for thought in the last few months.

Telling stories there cannot be far off…

Monster

Yup, I’m definitely gonna need more than a month.

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It’s not like this story is writing itself, anything but. At times it has been a tough job, slogging through the numbers: with the first crescendo of action about to happen, I reckon I’m probably about a third of the way in. However, there is an awful lot of exposition in here, most of it warranted. After we hit the end of this section, things can pick up a bit.

I reckon 100k is probably nearer the mark for completion.

There’s nothing stopping me going back and editing stuff out at a later date, of course: for now, the priority is to tell the story as it stands, and that’s proving surprisingly simple. I’m really, REALLY glad that time was taken to plan this in advance, because there are several points where if it hadn’t been, giving up and walking away would have been a really easy thing to do.

This time however, I have something to prove.

I am not getting any younger, as the hand will attest. The reason I started doing this challenge, so many years ago, was to write a novel. In all the times when the month was over and I looked at what had been produced, there was never really satisfaction with the end product. This time around, this is a piece of work to be already immensely proud of. Whatever may transpire, this will be pushed beyond a first draft.

Creating a monster will come with a new set of responsibilities, but until the story is done, size really will not matter. I’m already organising December’s content around this, so that there is no interruption to my writing processes. It is perhaps most satisfying all that this is a narrative not only to get lost in, but which also is throwing up some genuinely interesting new directions from the original pitch.

Speaking of which, I need to write a new summary to post on the NaNo website…

Let it Snow

December is not far away, and on it’s arrival, I’ve decided to try and be as thematic as it is possible to be without blowing the look and feel of the rest of the website. Therefore, we have a graphic which combines the three elements you’ll see in the #Soundtracking2019 and #Narrating2019 playlists, plus a return to the monthly short story after we have caught up from August.

There is also going to be some Instagram haiku, because why the hell not?

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I also do a 24 Days of GIF-mas thing on the other Twitter account, this year we’ll be having a bit of fun with it rather than it being the serious, poetic part of proceedings. I’ll be honest with you, this is the first Christmas for many years that I’m really looking forward to, which is odd considering that I’ll not be able to eat or drink as is normally the case… but it doesn’t matter. There’s so much else to look forward to.

I have a tea advent calendar, the excitement for which really is off the charts. Today was the planning session for this year’s ‘Make your Own Gifts’ operation, which I hope is going to be as much fun as it was when this was done a couple of years ago. The tree will be going up next weekend, and after that you can expect me to be as festive as possible… because it means I can ignore the political chaos going on in the UK.

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The short story is planned, and I’ll be beginning the process of picking out tracks for the playlists next week. Hopefully this organisational head start that’s been granted by the success of NaNo (update on Monday) is going to spill over into lots of other areas going forward. I’ve also done a lot this week to rationalise my own virtual spaces, which makes me feel a great deal more comfortable working within them.

Sometimes, all you need to feel happy is the space in which to do so.

Oops, I Did It Again

Having hit 25k on NaNo this morning, there MIGHT be a bit of a problem going forward…

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This isn’t like last year when I decided to stop because other things were more important. Nope, this time around has come the revelation that I do not want to stop. There is too much fun being had living and breathing this new narrative. In fact, considering where I am along my timeline, this 50k could at least double by the time I’m done. It is entirely possible we have a full blown epic tale on our hands.

Planning has presented this as possibility, and because there is understanding of what else needs to happen around the words, it’s probably the right moment for a rethink. This time however, instead of panicking and tossing the whole idea because it won’t fit into my current lifestyle choices… let’s do this differently. Let’s rearrange everything else around what has become most important and work from there.

For a change, personal happiness can take centre stage.

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This decision has produced an unexpected, knock-on effect. A couple of issues that I’ve been struggling to resolve are now sorted, complete without issue. My exercise regime’s taking an impressive upward turn. Willpower, instead of crumbling when it became apparent I’d not finish to time, has strengthened, which makes the desire to eat bad stuff that I’m having to ignore considerably easier.

I’m quite a binary being, when all is said and done. To realise that this enjoyment factor has been missing in my life is important: knowing why has been something of a revelation. Relaxing into this process has provided a key to a door that’s been locked since before counselling was started earlier this year. Here, it seems, is an important space not only to be explored, but inhabited.

I’m really looking forward to where this new journey takes me.

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.

All Time High

Life, right now at least, is all about narrative. The NaNo project (more on this in the next post) is progressing better than anything I’ve produced of this ilk for several years. The reason’s simple: I want to do it. All of this is fulfilling ambitions that have laid dormant for as long as I can remember, fuelled only by the scheduled short story forays and that episodic fiction that will be finished for next year.

It’s becoming apparent in other avenues of existence that attainment is very much entwined with belief. Knowing you are good enough is not what is required if your bigger problem’s all about stamina. Being able to identify what needs work is possibly one of the hardest things that I’ve ever had to do. It also means that, like it or not, I can’t devote time to other forms of expression.

Don’t tell anybody, but I am really missing writing poetry.

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There’s a number of deadlines in December that are already being considered, a collection being re-written and numerous single poems in states of construction. It’s not like poems don’t exist in my head either: doing a month’s worth of micropoetry with imagery was enormous fun, so much so that there’ll be a Christmas selection starting December 1st… because, well, why not?

What November is giving me, believe it or not, is a chance to breathe. Only working to a 50K word notional deadline is considerably less stressful than anything else produced this year. It’s allowing opportunities to find the joy in other things too, which hopefully will leach through to other areas of my written work. Blogging is undoubtedly becoming easier, and I’ve even dusted off my gaming blog for a few posts already.

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I’ll do some work next week on getting dates and deadlines up on the wall: it’s not something I’ve done yet in this new space and that needs to change. For now, however, I think it’s time to take a cuppa to bed and decompress with some Solitaire on my tablet. Gaming remains hugely important to me, in all its forms, not just as relaxation, but in this case it most certainly is.

We’ll be back here again tomorrow to start again.

Run To the Hills

Those of you who have followed me for some time will know that whenever a Time to Talk Day comes up, I’m all over the concept. That’s going to be particularly apposite this coming February, when the next event is scheduled: by then I hope to have begun my training as a Champion. The first meeting to begin that journey happened last Saturday, in my county’s main town. Needless to say, it’s changed quite a bit since I was there last.

I almost didn’t make it there at all.

Driving was fine, parking no problem. At the venue, there was an unexpected attack of nerves: walking into the meeting room, where one other person was already, made me feel unwell… and then I was in the bathroom, managing a potential panic attack. The reason for this, of course, was easily rationalised. Unfamiliar surroundings, people I didn’t know. I should have visited the venue earlier in the week to calm my fears.

Having come all that way, in the rain and wind… it would be foolish to just turn around and go home again. So, I walked back into the room… and now I’m so very glad I did. This is the first step of a journey that should have been started a long time ago: finally there’s confidence to stand with a group of people whose commitment and care is abundantly apparent. I can’t wait for formal training to start in January.

It also gives me an opportunity to consider what it is I’ll do for Time to Talk day 2020. I’ll want to do it online, of course, because that’s the place where I feel I can do the most good in terms of supporting people whilst assisting the process of obtaining the help and advice they’re looking for. I feel both poetry and imagery have a part to play in this… so I wonder, what can I do to pull myself out of comfort zones in the process?

There are some ideas in my planner. Watch this space for more details.