The Slightest Touch

How did January change your outlook on life?

Thirty-one days feels like about three months, looking back on what I achieved: nearly thirty-nine hours of exercise. Thirteen thousand calories burnt. Every day, even when I curled up in a ball and cried, there was still work done. I’ve completed the first portion of Mental health Champion training. Eight separate literary submissions. Significant developments in my personal ability to cope plus maintain momentum and progress.

All of this did not happen by magic.

Undoubtedly, progress came from adversity: my unexpected tooth extraction (which is still not 100% healed, and will be addressed next week) wasn’t where this all started. We have to go back to the ultimatum from my Doctor (or rather the head Practice Nurse) to change my diet and lifestyle. I tucked into my first pizza last night for what was probably four months plus. It was lovely, but I’m not sad to go back to training tomorrow.

You see, for a long time there was never really an acceptance of my own shortcomings in some key areas. Once that happened, and pressure was on to lose weight not for vanity or appearance but to improve my health, a lot of stuff stopped mattering. It helps that I know what’s been causing mental instability for years. It’s also useful to know how that can sometimes unexpectedly manifest. All of this is about learning.

In January, I finally learnt to accept what I really am.

Now therefore it is all about using this month as a foundation to build something fundamentally stronger and more attractive: that’s a subjective word to use in this context, but there are reasons for doing so. I know what I like, and what looks attractive to me. So, therefore, it is time to share that with a wider audience. This isn’t about me either, but things that are around me: how I see and make the world.

Other people may not agree with my ideas: this is something I’m used to. However, if true creativity is going to be released and expanded upon, that’s an obvious content of sharing work on a wider stage. It’s not about being liked, but appreciated. It’s trying to make others see the ideas I’m trying to build from using words and imagery. Honestly it doesn’t matter about anything else except that process.

This is about art created for the first time ever exactly as I see fit.

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I learnt a lot about myself this month, that’s for sure. The direction of my poetry is changing. Short stories are about to become a far bigger deal than they were, and novels need far more love than they are getting. On top of all of this, however, there’s a resilience that never existed until this moment right now, and it is time to make the most of every moment presented to me.

That’s still something that needs work on, if truth be told.

[PS: as part of this process, I’ve realised that EX/WHI will need a bit longer to get up to date than I’d originally anticipated: therefore it’ll be back next Friday then every other one going forward until I can build up some momentum with the narrative. Again, its finding time, and that is getting progressively easier.]

All Time High

On Wednesday this week, my productivity effectively nosedived. I could try and put it down to the ongoing saga of my dental health, or just a midweek slump. Neither of those would be either right or fair. The reason everything came to a shuddering halt was because, after a considerable break, there’s a new James Bond (007) movie coming, due in April of next year. Bond is my Kryptonite. I was, therefore, blindsided.

If you have been here long enough, you’ll know that hidden on this site are two full-length Bond fanfics. They are, like it or not, the only forms of fiction I’ve ever finished. That’s been a thorn in my side for some time which is why I’m so keen not only to finish my NaNo (more on that in the next blog) but to prove to myself that the ability exists to move myself forward from this point.

However, this week is a salutary reminder that a part of me is still stuck in 2012 where all this began. The trailer above is indeed enough to get me quite excited, but is the warning that was needed that my future is never going to be using someone else’s characters to get work noticed. If there is ever to be evolution, I have to leave this franchise alone.

There will be a response to it, but not now.

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There is reason to be proud with myself however, knowing what happened, and that it would be easy to just disappear back to the Old Ways [TM] without fear… because those fanfics were immensely enjoyable, wish fulfilment that is still hard to beat. Except, however, my new work is similarly important, and significant, and deserves effort to complete. It’s just been a hard week for making that happen.

This is where the dentistry and being swayed by other things comes in, and why once I’ve written these blogs and done all my back end work, Sunday this week will be novel time, as well as finishing my Christmas Poetry. It deserves more attention and love, and my brain needs to finally let go of a past that is, like it or not, actively preventing me from moving forward with a new existence.

Let’s see if I’m adult enough to dismiss this particular demon without assistance.

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.

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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…

Bird of Prey

With less than a week to go until everything kicks off, how ready am I for NaNoWriMo 2019?

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No really, it’s okay. I’ve got everything together, the WiP playlist is strong, plus there’s lots of enthusiasm. It also helps that I now have an operational computer again, and am well on the way to having a better, larger space in which to work. That alone should make the process more conducive. Not writing poetry will also be a pleasant change. There’s plenty of that to look forward to in December.

This however is not about submissions or progress. November is all for me.

All my November content will be inspired by the NaNoWriMo project, kicking off with a #Soundtracking2019 playlist that begins with one of my favourite pieces of Fatboy Slim music, an important prompt for a sequence of events in Ternary’s plot. As to what you’ll get from the #Narrating2019 list? It’s time for a bit of Alternate History… with some Steampunk elements thrown in for good measure…

Hopefully there’s enough time to arrange everything else that needs doing before that point: the plan, such as it stands, is to try and write for two hours every morning and then in the evenings when time allows. I’m also determined to get this narrative finished and then decently edited, in the hope that I may be able to do something with it. Self publishing is most definitely an option going forward.

Let’s not get ahead of myself until then.

Things to Make and Do

The decision has been made, I’ve changed my NaNo page BACK to where we started a week ago. No more indecision. There’s a Soundtrack being updated and many changes in my head as to where action was initially going to head. Now, however, it is time for some honesty. I’ve mentioned before some of the technical shortcomings that hamper my long-form fiction work: repetition of words, bad grammar and the eternal problem of going on Multiple Tenses Safari.

All of this is known well enough to handle without worry: I can cut out superfluous words, but not too many, because that hampers decent narrative flow. It is a delicate combination of when and where, it is apparent. All of this goes without saying, but the majority of that should happen during my editing period and not whilst I’m writing. The issues then need to be admitted in public before going forward.

I seem to have terrible trouble being confident my narratives truly work.

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This is a pretty staggering admission from someone who likes to believe, on most days, that she’s capable of telling a damn fine story… except, there are always holes. This is the problem… going great guns, ready to start working… then discovering the plot’s got a gap in it that’s not really that wide, but can end up looking insurmountably deep. This time around, therefore, I’m going to do something that’s never been done for a NaNo before.

It’s time to transcribe the narrative, longhand, from start to finish. I don’t expect this to be either pretty or easy, but every plot hole needs to be identified and covered. If this doesn’t happen, it will just be like the last couple of times when I’ve tried to write something complex: my own brain will destroy the fragile confidence built up over the last few months and BANG we’ve gotten nowhere. It’s not happening.

The story is going to be finished.

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The hope is if I can do it once, then we can do it again with a couple of the unfinished manuscripts on my hard drive. Now the major shortcoming in long-form writing has been identified, it’s time to crack on with the task. There’s poetry scheduled over the next few days, but space has been provisioned at the weekend for the all-important first pass. Needless to say, you’ll know how it all worked out this time next week.

Cross everything please, it will be very much appreciated.

The Test

The havering is over. Normally, it’s never this organised inside Writing HQ for NaNoWriMo until the end of the month. This year’s Idea [TM] has very much been a toss up between Responsibility and Enjoyment: write the novel that already holds a chance at success, or do something that makes me happy. Right now, all that matters is the latter, because quite frankly I’m sick to death of the submission process.

Don’t worry, it’s still going to happen.

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It was, in the end, a simple choice. The soundtrack’s been on repeat now in the car for about a week, and there’s some rather vital changes to the narrative beginning to evolve from repeated exposure to certain pieces of music. The next week will be spent finally organising the track listing for that, but it’s already on Spotify. I have taken the good advice: write the thing you love, not the one you feel obliged to.

There will also be some poetry going on in November, but the major deadline item I want to submit will be started next week for completion after my birthday. However much the process of submission and rejection wears me down, it still keeps happening, because it is only through pain and suffering that the artist’s work will finally improve. She understands the limitations, but continues regardless, because… t’was ever thus.

Let’s hope I can finally do this idea justice.

Musclebound

It’s been a week since everything literary got a bit of a shift about. Now it is high time all that productivity and new understanding got thrown at constructive projects. Therefore today’s when the pitch I took to Mslexicon gets some depth and shape, poetry is finally edited and submitted for a range of different awards and contests, plus the mess that’s my hard drive is given a much needed clear out.

It’s time to get some work done.

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I already have five (count them!) of my best poems ready to roll for the prestige Poetry Society contest, that have existed in one form or another since May: they’re ready now, at least as ready as I will ever be for submission. There’s a first novel thing that one of my other WiP’s well set to enter too, so that’ll get a proper synopsis ahead of deadline this week. Then, it is all about words on the page for the idea I took to Leeds.

This already has a soundtrack to go with it, which has been listened to at the Gym and during school runs for a good few weeks now. What needs to happen is a subtle rearrangement of the running order to accommodate a firmed-up timeline, because some songs are in the wrong place and if I’m going to optimise the visual part of my brain, that needs to change.

In fact, I’ll do that now before anything else happens.

All three protagonists have a theme, and then there’s the connecting plot ‘songs’. I know some people do their preparation differently, but this is what works best for me. It undoubtedly has a lot to do with the fact film and TV studies happened along with an English Literature degree. Finally, after almost three decades, education finally has some kind of actual relevance. Let’s see if we can adapt form to function.

All of this will be updated on the Twitter account as time goes on, so if you want to know how things are going, you know where to find me. On top of that there is likely to be a bit more effort shoved into August’s short story, and indeed all the daily works produced in the months that follow. That’s the area I’m weakest on, but after some cracking sessions at Mslexicon, all of that is altering rapidly…

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Look Up

We’re behind, which for those of you on Social media will be no surprise. My second computer, pretty much essential for remote work and gaming, has become nothing more than an expensive paperweight. It has forced a fairly significant rethink not only of working space but of the next few weeks, and it is with a clear conscience and only the best of intentions that I’ll be withdrawing from NaNoWriMo.

This event has been part of my life since 2011, and in the seven years participated (I missed 2014) I’ve only failed to finish once. A second time is not a defeat, but really rather significant: November is the month where I’ve altered most as a person. There’s no real idea why either, but the majority of significant personal changes and positives shifts seems to happen just before Christmas hits. This year is no exception.

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Taking the opportunity to leave now also means there’s no panic about what happens next. It will allow me to get back to EX/WHI (which I’ve missed) and that means a change to the scheduled web maintenance and other gubbins that were planned for the end of the month. The rest of this week are now blocked for replacing the old machine, reorganising my tech here and deciding what happens next. We’ll start a new schedule on Monday as a result.

It feels important at this point to stand up and walk away. I could have simply ridden through November and not mentioned it, but that’s no longer the kind of person I am. Instead, it becomes the means by which lots of other stuff gets sorted, which in the end will matter more long term. It gives me the chance to organise beyond a weekly deadline, or a daily word count. Taeken will be finished, but only when there’s time and ability to do so properly.

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Yup, I did fail. Once upon a time that would have hamstrung progress for months, but not any more. Being able to admit stuff and move on remains the most difficult and painful lesson learnt at any point in writing. There’s a ton of other stuff waiting for attention, which if organised well have a far more significant impact on progress and attainment going forward. Central to that is editing a piece that I’ve wanted to finish all year, and that’s essential to the new direction.

Quality, when all is said and done, triumphs over quantity. That’s where the journey is pushing now, and that is the path to follow. It is time to focus on taking what’s already done and making it better.

It’s also high time I made a cuppa.

Not a Job

I have a confession to make, well several actually. The main one is to do with my mistaken belief that writing certain combinations of fiction at once is actually doable, and there won’t be any clutter or overspill in my brain. This, sadly, is utter bollocks. As a result, EX/WHI is on hiatus for November. I cannot cope with two lots of sci-fi simultaneously and so summat has to give. I’m also aware that last month’s short story needs publishing, and there’s a backlog of stuff to archive. I’ve spent a lot of today making sure that’s easily doable, and we’ll have October’s story up on site for Monday.

All in all, we’re off to a comfortable start.

I am planning to write 2k a day, give or take, which will happen as the first thing I do every morning. That means front loading as much of the rest of the month’s content as possible, which should hopefully come to pass by this time on Monday. Therefore, after that point if there’s more than 2k a day in me I can just have a go, and the house does not disintegrate around me from inactivity. There’s an important secondary point to all of this too: this is a good idea, it is sound and deserves the effort, and I need to prove to myself again that this is doable.

On the flip-side, I’ve also committed myself to edit and finish a previously unused NaNo project, which was submitted for a contest last month. I’m 100% confident I won’t make the shortlist, but regardless of this it would be nice to have the story completed and at the 40k limit required to be a novella. Once that’s done, I’ll have two things I can pitch at people, and not just one. The two things are different enough that I shouldn’t get my brain confused as is the case with Taeken and EX/WHI. It’s all part of a long-term plan to change the world, a piece of work at a time.

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There’s still poetry, of course, and I have a Monday deadline for two pieces. For now, however, as you read this I’ll be out in the dark, taking pictures for a project I’m working on for 2019…

In Pursuit of Happiness

Yup, it’s that time again. November is (checks calendar) NEXT WEEK and so, we need a graphic for the upcoming ‘write a novel in a month’ journey and some definitive idea of what the fuck is going on. Fortunately, both of these things are well in hand.

NaNoWriMo

If you don’t know what NaNoWriMo is, here’s my mate Tessa explaining why 50k words in a month is such a big deal. For me, this is my eighth year taking part, and (hopefully) the fifth year required wordage will be complete at the end. We’ve discussed the plot here, and I’m not going to spend any more time going over details. However, I will find the time to share some of my personal insights over a decade, including that horrible moment when all the planning goes to hell and characters rebel against your well-organised planning.

It’s happened for the last three years and already, I’m hearing mutters of discontent from my major players…

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However, there’s a ton of stuff that needs to happen beforehand, including a rather important submission that is likely to take up all of my Monday. Therefore, it’s high time I got the backlog of work sorted and the new stuff prepared. All things being equal, we’re going to move into a new phase of work (and visuals) beginning on November 1st.

I’ll see you there 😀