Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Not long now

The end of November seems to have snuck up on me very quickly.  The weather has been playing tricks, keeping the leaves green on the trees and the sun relatively warm, thus fooling me into thinking that it's a lot earlier in the year than it actually is.  I've barely got any Christmas shopping done - I'm normally very efficient with that sort of thing - because December feels ages away (as opposed to, you know, TOMORROW).

I'm off this afternoon to Yateley in order to be a bridesmaid tomorrow.  I will return home in December and realise I am shocking behind.

Fortunately, my writing schedule doesn't take account of the weather.  I am doing it week-by-week and have still (a little surprisingly) managed to stay on track.  I've written two of this week's three chapters, and will hopefully get the third done when I get back from the above-mentioned wedding.  I haven't really done any meaningful job searching so far this week (apart from an interview with Barna Shields recruitment company) so you can see how my priorities arrange themselves.  If only writing were a real job.

It's quite a scary thought that I've only got six chapters to go.  I just recounted it on my fingers.  Yep, definitely six.  It doesn't really feel like the end though.  Book two is already starting to take shape in my head, even though I know I probably won't get round to actually writing it for a while (she says).  Other things have to take the lead first.  Like actually properly finishing book one, for instance.

Right, back to packing/ironing/fussing/panicking.  Why panicking, you ask?  Because I have a fear far more terrifying than the idea of only have six chapters to go - that I will trip over walking down the aisle in front of the lovely bride tomorrow.  I can really see myself doing that.  Vividly.  In full colour, live action detail.  Ah, the joys of a writer's imagination.

Monday, 21 November 2011

Not forgotten; just...stewing

I'm still on schedule in my goal of finishing Hide and See before Christmas, which is just as well because I've got something else to write before then too.

It's a Secondary-World fantasy fiction, started when I was in college.  I began writing it at my brother's request and have produced instalments for him on special occasions - Christmas, birthdays etc.  I started it with perhaps a vague idea of it just being one novel (I say vague because I didn't really have any idea how to plan back then) but it has since morphed in a trilogy.

Based on the word count and where I am in the story, I am on the third book.  I always said I wanted to get the whole first draft done before going back and editing the beginning.  This is my policy for everything I write simply because otherwise I'd never finish anything.  However in the case of the fantasy trilogy, it has been something like seven years since I wrote that first bit of the novel and I'd like to think that my writing ability has evolved since then.

Translation: the beginning of the first novel (or perhaps the entire first novel) is mostly bollocks.  It really does need some major editing and it's not something I'm looking forward to.  As I like to rant on a fairly regular basis, I don't like editing.

But, according to my own self-imposed rule, I don't have to worry about that just yet.  It's the actual writing which will need my focus before Christmas.  I left the last instalment on rather a massive cliff-hanger and that was in March.  I usually write more than two instalments a year but my brother has had less special occasions than normal so I'm blaming him.  That and the fact that I've been writing Hide and See.  Although I'm normally writing numerous different stories at once.  So no, I'm blaming my brother.  All his fault.

So for now, it's back to Hide and See.  According to the Mystical Schedule of Amazingness I should be finished with the first draft by Saturday 17th Dec, thus giving me one glorious week to write around seven thousand words of the novel I haven't looked at for nine months.  Yeah, not difficult at all.

Monday, 14 November 2011

Deadlines, good; Word limits, bad

My self-imposed writing schedule is working quite well.  It seems as if I'm only capable of getting significant amounts done if I've got a deadline to meet, even if it's one I've created myself.  I'm sure that says something profound about me as a writer but I can't be arsed to figure out what.

I passed the 75k mark last week which is - as so many things are - both good and bad.  Good because yay, progress!  And bad because I think I'm waffling too much.  Or, to phrase it in a slightly more positive way, I'm going into too much detail.

I have my chapter plan and for the most part I'm stuck to it, though I've had to re-jig a few things and cut out a couple of conversations which I had planned because I'd reached my limit on that chapter.  I'd figured I would probably have to do that, though, so it's no big deal.

The problem potentially exists in the amount of words I'm doing per chapter.  I've created a limit of 2k.  In most of the chapters, I have gone over this by around one- to two-hundred words.  My university-brain says 'well that's okay, it's within the 10% margin' - but my actually-we're-not-at-uni-anymore-brain points out that these extra words mount up over all the chapters.

As a result I'm trying to write a few slightly smaller chapters.  I aim for around 1700-1800 words - and come in closer to dead on 2k.  *sigh*  So should I therefore be aiming at that all the time?  Or should I get my act together and actually produce what I bleedin' well say I'm going to?

Despite the above whinging, I'm not actually too worried about my excess words.  It's been a habit of mine to go over on word counts for several years now and I always manage to cut it down in the end.  In fact that's mostly what my editing process consists of.  If I took that away, I'm not sure I'd know what to do.  Which doesn't exactly bode well for the uber-editing-session I have planned (for my other novel) once I've finished the first draft of Hide and See.

Who reckons that I'll just end up starting another novel instead?

Sunday, 6 November 2011

Time to get serious about not growing up

I bought some Christmas paper today.  And some bows.  This is scary for two reasons:

1) It is only November 6th - what the heck am I playing at?


2) I have vowed to get the first draft of Hide and See completed before Christmas and buying Christmas-related products is making that seem awfully close.

When I wrote my chapter plan and made my above-mentioned-vow, I set myself the task of writing three chapters a week.  After having numerous deadlines for the MA it felt a little strange and unproductive to suddenly have none.  Therefore, I am turning myself into my own little university-lecturer-deadline-setter.  Except, you know, without the university qualification thing at the end of it.

Thus far (one week in) it seems to be working fairly well.  I have completed this week's three chapters.  Gold star for me.  Whether they're any good remains to be seen.  One chapter I'm not very happy with, one I think is okay, and the third I'm quite pleased with.  Not bad really.  At least I don't think all of them are utter bollocks.

My new book arrived a few days ago but I'm only one chapter in.  This isn't because the book isn't any good - on the contrary.  Much of my time this week has instead been spent looking for jobs, not finding them and then stressing about said lack of progress.  That stressing part has been done with particular gusto.

This is part of the motivation behind completing my first draft before Christmas.  If I really am serious about doing the whole novel writing thing and hoping to publish one day (fingers, toes, everything crossed) then I'd better crack on.  No use sitting around wishing it would happen.  Here's me being proactive.  Or delusional.  Or both.

The fact of the matter is I go a little insane if I don't write - I might as well try and get paid pittance for it.