Sunday, 31 July 2011

Car Boot Books

This past week I have been trying to do some more reading for my dissertation.  I've read two fiction books, both (supposedly) within the same genre as Hide and See.  The first book I quite liked; the second was approaching good in the middle but tailed off to such a disappointing end that the first words out of my mouth on finishing it were 'ugh, lame book'.  Not exactly positive criticism.

When I say that they are 'in the same genre', I have basically been searching for any primary world fantasy novels.  The only problem is that a lot of these seem to be just romance novels with fantasy elements chucked in.  Quite often I think that if the fantasy bits were taken out and a few scenes were jigged around, the novel could still exist and sit within the 'romance' genre.

Hide and See, from my point of view anyway, isn't about romance.  There will probably be some towards the end of the book but the primary driving force of it is the supernatural abilities of the characters and the world surrounding them.  (My markers for my second chapter would probably disagree with this though - first time I've ever written something which was compared to Bridget Jones.  Oh dear, shoot me now.)

I therefore went to the local car boot sale today on the search for more books (poor little unemployed students can't afford to buy new).  I found a couple and will hopefully read at least one this week.  I'm trying to keep the effort going on the dissertation if only by doing reading.  All motivation for actually writing anything went swiftly out the metaphorical window after above-mentioned chapter two comments.  I'm planning to head into uni to use the library this week for some critical reading - got that dreaded 3k essay after all.  Another thing to make a pig's ear of.

But it's less than a week until I go on holiday - and I'm going to be a complete rebel and take a secondary world fantasy fiction to read.  Just for fun.  I know, I live dangerously.

Monday, 25 July 2011

Rant Vacuum

I'm rather late for this blog post.  I'd vowed to write around once a week (the 'few times a week' thing never materialised) but I'm a few days over.  Whoops.

I was waiting for something to say.  I still don't really have anything important (like I ever do!) but I figured something might emerge if I started spewing random words onto the page.

Dissertation update: my full draft (it's not really the 'first' draft because I've already messed around with it a lot) has been sent off to Madam Supervisor.  I think I felt happier with it after reading it all through - I had forgotten a mildly exciting bit which improved the whole thing in my mind after my 'it's-all-incredibly-dull' rant.

I've not written any of the story since which may or may not be a problem, I haven't decided yet.  I have a vague idea that I might write a little bit of a different story, at least until I get some general feedback on the story so far.  I seem to have spent my last few days thinking about writing a lot, but not actually doing any.

As has often happened, perhaps pouring useless words into the interwebs might be of some assistance.  'Write anything so long as you're writing' - isn't there a saying that goes something like that?

I'm also spending a fair amount of time stressing over my upcoming holiday.  A holiday isn't something you should stress over really, but I'm doing a marvellous job of it so far, if I do say so myself.  I think part of the problem is I'm terrified that I've forgotten something crucial - like having a place to stay or something (I haven't forgotten this, don't worry, though it doesn't guarantee that the place we've got is any good).  Oh well, if everything goes horribly tits-up in France, at least it might make for an interesting story.

Although as I doubt there'll be any superpowers, explosions and epic battles of good versus evil, I'm guessing it wouldn't be anything I'd write about.  Sounds like a literary fic kind of thing to me and you know what I'm like with those.

Thursday, 14 July 2011

Comparing my Leading Ladies

I've had quite a productive day today in Dissertation-land.  I can tell by the fact that I have the beginnings of that sharp pain in the back of my head which tells me I've been staring at my computer screen for too long.

I think the pain is worth it though.  I've been feeling horribly unproductive this week, only managing a few hundreds words a day, if that.  I'm still not connecting with my story as much as I'd like, though it is getting better.  I've still yet to figure out exactly why this is, although I have a few ideas.

The action is starting to move along a little bit now and I think this is helping some.  After writing the first draft of a novel last year where my main character spends most of her time shooting people and blowing stuff up, it was a little tricky to go to Hide and See's main lady, Rhonda, who thus far hasn't done much besides working in an office and having a natter with Joel, the main guy.

Obviously this is my fault, not Rhonda's, so I can't blame her.  The adventure stuff is coming round the corner though and while it's not very good for poor old Rhonda, it will hopefully help from the writing point of view.

I can't help but compare Rhonda to other main character in other novel (called Renarde) even though the books are very different.  Renarde is brave, daring, sharp, skilled... but very emotionally damaged.  Rhonda must grow into her courage throughout the course of Hide and See and while at the moment I wouldn't go so far as to call her a wimp (she definitely isn't), I do sometimes wish she were a little stronger.

Again, I'm talking about it as if it's all her fault.  It's not like I bloody created her or anything.  It's not like she is, in fact, nothing more than a product of my very weird imagination.  I'm one of those crazy writers, you see, the ones who find their characters running away on their own, rather than those sane authors who manage to remain attached to reality and are fully aware at all times that their characters are not actually real.

It would probably be better for my sanity if I could inhabit this second group.  Alas, my leading ladies are all too real and tend to go off on one before my fingers are really aware of what they've typed.

Anyway, back to the point (yes there is one lurking in here somewhere).  Today, I managed to finish the first complete draft of my dissertation.  This needs a WOOHOO! and an OH NO!  My problem has revealed itself in one of the above convoluted paragraphs (Gold Star to anyone who can find it).

The answer: I am only just getting to what I call 'the beginning of the exciting bit'.  So this raises two issues:

1) Does this therefore make what I've written so far (i.e. two assignments and my dissertation) boring?


2) Will I have sufficient motivation to carry the story on?

I don't know the answer to either question.  Maybe I should buy a magic-eight ball.

Thursday, 7 July 2011

The Report on Friday's Mission, Captain

The beginning of the week was a struggle.  It wasn't until Tuesday that I actually managed to write a fresh word for my dissertation, after Friday's uni extravaganza.  I'm not sure that there was anything specific from that day that made my inspiration dry up so spectacularly but nonetheless, it happened.

The supervisor meeting went okay, despite being in a room with noisy air-conditioning.  Being a naturally very cold person (or 'a corpse' as my father puts it) I have a great dislike of air-con.  Add to that the fact that it makes me even more of a deaf bint than I am already, and needless to say I decided by the end of the afternoon that I don't like the Learning Café at all.  Of course this may also be due to the fact that said Learning Café was very much without the 'café' part, meaning I was very caffeine deprived.  No coffee = grumpy dinosaur bouf.

I managed to write a few words of Chapter 5 both before and after the supervisor meeting, though even as I was writing it I could see that it was all total bollocks (a sentiment reaffirmed when I type it up on Monday evening and Tuesday morning).  After giving up with the whole writing thing soon after the meeting, I spent the rest of the time on the internet, replying to a few emails (and sending some to my sister detailing just how bored I was) and just generally wasting time.

I then went to the Writers' Panel which was part of the writing conference (with half the panellists only having been roped in ten minutes before, though were very good nonetheless) and afterwards had the dreaded reading for the Litmus Launch.  Well, I am pleased to say that I managed to get through it without vomiting or fainting, so that's something at least.  I did manage to bash into a table leg on my way up to the front but all things considered, it could have been much worse.

So all in all, not a terribly awful day - so why the sudden writers' block?

On Monday, after agonising over Hide and See through much of the weekend, I re-read a chapter from a different novel I've written the first draft of.  While this other novel is in desperate need of editing, I found myself liking it more than my dissertation.  I don't dislike my dissertation, I just don't find it exciting.  I came to the conclusion that there's too much thinking and not enough doing.

Conclusion: I need to move things along a bit.  Have I succeeded?  Well, I've written a few thousand words these past couple of days, but it doesn't really count if it's drivel.  I think there's a rise in tension but still nothing much has actually happened.  And I'm realising that I really need something to happen.  I mean, if I'm finding my own novel a bit dull how the heck are readers supposed to like it?

Maybe I should just make something explode?  Seems to work for Michael Bay.