Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Chapters Galore

The writing splurge continued beyond last week's blog post, allowing me to reach the new designated end-point for the second version of my dissertation.  This end-point came after rather more chapters than I'd originally intended, meaning that it's quite possible that my dissertation will be made up entirely of material written this month.

And so all the chapters I wrote back in June/July are feeling all gloomy and neglected because I'm all excited about my shiny new chapters from this past week or so.  This will presumably be the state of affairs until my dissertation supervisor emails back to say 'no, I'm afraid this is all complete bollocks' (in a much politer, non-British kind of way).

Yes, shiny new chapters have been sent flying over the interwebs to my unsuspecting supervisor who will probably be unimpressed by my presenting her with almost twenty-thousand words of new material, almost completely out of the blue.  Surprise!  *Balloons*

Since sending off new-and-shiny dissertation chapters, I have written two more.  These result from the pleasant delusion that it might actually be publishable one day.

I also took a trip into uni today to use the library.  Critical research ensued, to the distant sound of some occasional but very loud burping from a different area of the library.  Quite impressive, really.  The burp volume, that is, not the research.  My research remains less than impressive because I'm not entirely sure I'm getting the right material.  My Publishing Project rationale was rather woeful and, given that it's on the same novel, I really think I ought not to use it as basis for the dissertation's essay.

Therefore, until I can get some advice from my supervisor, I shall be wading through as many texts as I can find with the word 'fantasy' in the title.  Sounds like a winner to me.

On the fiction-reading front, I have for now abandoned Andrew Neiderman's boob book and started on Cassandra Clare's City of Bones.  It comes highly recommended by Stephanie Meyer, but I'll try not to hold that against it.  Madam Meyer does, after all, like Jane Austen, so I can't utterly condemn her taste in reading.

Two chapters in and we're doing okay.  It's not quite enough to grip me but I haven't had the urge to throw it out the window.  There have been several snippets of unique and quite lovely description so I'm keeping positive - though a real determination to read it might have to wait until the writing splurge fizzles out.

Thursday, 25 August 2011

All Aboard the Writing Train

Since my last post, I've managed to write five new chapters of Hide and See, my dissertation novel.  I can't help feeling a little proud of this, regardless of whether or not the chapters are actually any good.  I've managed to do something, which is more than I did the week before.  Progress!  Woo!

I'm finally getting into the story too.  I'm having that need to write.  I've missed that - the feeling of getting a sliver of conversation in your head and just having to get it down before it disappears.

This of course does have the unfortunate side-effect of being furious if someone interrupts my thought process, as my poor father can attest to after asking for some tissues while I was mid-sentence.

With only a month to go until the dissertation due I have thought that perhaps this is a little late in the day to be writing new material but I'm just not happy with a lot of the earlier chapters.  I mean they're alright, but they're not good.  I want to feel proud of my work, even if I can't get the grade I want.  I've obviously given up on the whole wanting-a-distinction-thing - that evaporated at the end of the first semester and was difficult for little over-achiever me to get over at first.

So I'm going for (not-quite-a-)job-satisfaction.  If I like it, maybe that will make me more inclined to work on it and improve it in the long run.  I've certainly had a productive few days and I only hope it will last, at least until I get to the point in the story I plan to use as the end of my dissertation.

All this writing has meant that my reading for the dissertation has taken a back seat.  Good news for my word count, bad news for Totton Library, who must be tired of me renewing books so often.  I read another chapter and a half of Curse by Andrew 'Boobs' Neiderman, but after having to read through another needless description of nipples I gave up.  I might go back to it at some point but I'm starting to think it's unlikely.

When this sudden writing splurge peters out I'll probably move on to a fresh book - hopefully one where the female characters wear bras.

Thursday, 18 August 2011

Aiming for better

It was on a dark and stormy night... that I finally got round to updating my blog again.

Okay, 'stormy' might be a bit of an exaggeration.  Apparently we had one instance of lightning and thunder this morning but I was in the Asda car park at the time, doing my best impression of a drowned rat, and thus missed it.  But it has been frickin' miserable all day.  I'm hoping for a better weekend (Bournemouth Air Show!  Whoop whoop!!)

As you can see, I am celebrating my first blog post since coming back from France by doing the British Thing and talking about the weather.  I have also, since Sunday, been eating a ridiculous amount of marmite.

In my previous post I ranted about my reading options for the holiday.  In the end I didn't take The Curse with me, which is fortunate as I didn't actually get round to finishing The Magician's Apprentice until this past Monday.  This isn't to say that the book wasn't good - far from it - but it is a bit of a brick.  Seven-hundred pages of brick to be exact.  And I was reading for pleasure this time so there was none of that speed-reading Middlemarch-in-three-days kind of shenanigans going on.

I'm very happy that I bought The Magician's Apprentice from the nice fellow at the car boot all those months ago.  I haven't been so impressed with a book in a fair while.  It made me realise that all of the primary world books I read so far for my dissertation have been alright, but nothing special, and often with gaping plot holes or character inconsistencies that I've just sort of ignored.

It's difficult to get out of the workshopping mind-set, I think, especially with those novels which could do with improving.  I often found myself making alternative suggestions in my head, rephrasing sentences so that they flowed better.  This is all very well in a student's work but in published novels?  Maybe I'm just not reading the right books.  Anyone have any suggestions?

By contrast, the biggest criticism I had for Trudi Canavan was that her characters smiled 'crookedly' a little too much.  Or maybe this only bothered me because it reminded me of Edward 'Twishite' Cullen?

I'm back to writing now.  My first draft of the dissertation is still making me unhappy so I'm continuing on, hoping that the following chapters will be better.  I've been thinking about them a lot and even had that real urge to get some dialogue down (sat on the footbridge at Ashurst train station, forcing the commuters to squeeze round me) - this, I'm choosing to believe, is a positive sign.

Friday, 5 August 2011

The Magician's Apprentice is fighting the Curse

I'm off on holiday tomorrow.  All my clothes are packed and all that's left to go in is cosmetics and my phone charger.  I should hopefully have plenty of room to bring back oodles of chocolate which, let's face it, is the top priority.

I've packed my secondary world fantasy novel (The Magician's Apprentice by Trudi Canavan) in my hand luggage.  I have been contemplating bringing along the primary world one I'm currently reading (Curse by Andrew Neiderman).  Despite my resolution at the beginning of the week, I've not managed to complete the measly task of reading one more book for uni.  I'm only about six chapters in.

Responsible Me says I should take Curse to France and at least read some more, even if I don't finish it.  Non-Responsible Me says if I haven't read it this week, as I was intending to, I'm unlikely to find the motivation when I'm on holiday.  I will probably be too busy trying to ignore the inevitable rain and wishing my badly-glued boots didn't have so many holes in them.  I will be wanting to read about the Magician's Apprentice, which after ten pages already had me hooked.  I will not be wanting to read lots more descriptions in Curse of the main female character's breasts.

Curse, copious boob descriptions aside, isn't a bad book.  It's interesting and is different to most of the other primary world books I've read so far.  I'm glad I picked it up and I think it will be useful for my dissertation, either the creative part or the much-feared essay.  The fact remains, however, that it is for uni.  Uni is stressing me out at the moment.  I do not want to be stressed on holiday.  Holidays are for chocolate, croissants and pain au chocolat.

I'm sorry Andrew Neiderman, but Curse is staying at home.