Friday, 30 December 2011

Last post of 2011

The end of the year approaches!  I suppose this is the point where I should ponder on what has happened through 2011 and assess my decisions.  What was good, what was bad, that sort of thing.  But frankly, my dears, I can't be arsed.

Instead, you're in for the same sort of rambling waffle that you've got every other week of the year.  Well since February, obviously, as that was when this blog burst spectacularly into existence.  And it is rather astonishing that I've even managed to keep it going that long.  Fingers-crossed for my carrying on so in 2012!

I'm hoping that I'll be able to continue this blog in much the same way that I've written it this year.  The main purpose - for all that I wander off in merry little tangents - is to discuss my writing.  As I do not intend to stop writing next year, I fully intend to have plenty to splurge onto the internets next year too.

One of my New Year's Resolutions (yeah, I have at least three at the moment, though right now I can only remember two of them...) is to get one of my novels edited and sent off to agents, ready to be rejected and for me to sob bitterly over my failed little darlings.

With this lofty aim in mind, I have just started editing the novel I wrote before doing my MA.  It doesn't have a firm title yet.  In my head I think I call it 'Fall' but my marvellous friend Lottums (the first to read it) still refers to it by its tentative first title 'Live Free Die Fighting'.  I think I'll refer to it as 'Fall' on this here blog simply because it's shorter and I'm lazy.

So Fall started life in a third-year module for my BA.  I submitted the first chapter for one of the assignments, got a mark I was pleased with (shock, I know, but it does happen) giving me enough motivation to continue.  I wrote it while working full-time, finishing just before starting the MA in September 2010.  I wanted to get it done by the MA because I had a vague notion of using my MA time to edit it.  Then I realised that was a stupid thing to think because I would need to be writing stuff for my assignments rather than something that was already written.  My rewriting process rarely involves major changes so I couldn't in good conscience say that I'd done the work for the MA.

Now, with the first draft of Hide and See done and stewing away nicely in the background, and my brother's latest fantasy instalment given over on Christmas Day, I'm now finally back to Fall.  I'm editing it chapter by chapter, finding bits I like and bits I don't.  Generally I think I'm still quite pleased with it, which has made me worried.  Does this mean I'm not able to see the flaws because I'm too attached to it?  Quite possibly.

Once edited, I will therefore be flinging it left, right and centre in the hopes that any lovely people might have time to give it a read.  There are certain elements to this story which are quite personal and while I can feel moved reading them back, I don't know whether the emotion translates to the page.  It makes me appreciate just how valuable those workshopping sessions during the MA were, and the feedback I've gained from various lovely people for other works.  So ta muchly everyone!

There are no wild parties in store for me tomorrow.  I'm getting much too old for those kinds of shenanigans.  Well, I probably always was.  I think I've always been a little old lady really.  So tomorrow, rather than planning for a night of drunkenness, I will be reading (Kelley Armstrong's Bitten), rewriting, staring lovingly at my new bookshelf that my father put up for me today and drinking copious amounts of tea.  Oh, and dodging calls from sales companies who keep trying to recruit me.  I don't trust anyone who tries to give me a job that I haven't applied for.  Or whose only contact number is for a mobile phone.  Anyone got any tips for how to get them to leave me alone?  Because I cannot think of anyone less suited to a role in sales than me.

"Would you like to buy this?  No?  Oh, okay, sorry to bother you.  You're probably right, it is a bit shite."

All of this said in a tentative near-whisper, while straining to hear what they're saying on the other end.  Because I'm a deaf bint too.  Nodding and smiling doesn't work quite so well over the phone.

Right, enough of the rambling tangents.  Chapter Five is calling for an edit and the Dark Knight movie soundtrack is paused and waiting.  And despite the fact that two dozen books are now on a shelf rather than the floor, my room really still needs tidying.

Toodle-pip and have a Happy New Year!

Thursday, 22 December 2011

Concentrate... Don't get distracted by the pretty lights...

Three days to go.  'Til Christmas?  Well, yes but also to the deadline that Christmas creates.

I have until Christmas Eve night to finish this latest part of the secondary-world fantasy trilogy, print it out, wrap it up and pop it under the Christmas tree.

I suppose it's going okay.  Some days are better than others.  Sunday and Monday, for example, were pretty darn crap, resulting in me writing a note to myself on Monday night which simply read: 'WRITING!! F'ING DO IT!'  Seriously.

The note seemed to do the trick for Tuesday, though, as I managed to churn out over three thousand words.  Wednesday let to another thousand or so.  Today... zilch.  But the day is yet young (or rather the evening hasn't properly arrived despite the darkness) and I'm sure I'll manage to get something done.

So for all that my writing has been more irregular than I'd hoped, I am at least progressing.  Again - as ever - whether it actually makes any kind of coherent sense is an entirely different matter.

I think part of my problem with that two-day block lay in the fact that what I needed to write was something I have been planning for years (so no pressure then) and was a greater level of fantasy than I've ever written before.  I'm not even sure if that makes sense.  See how much it has turned my brain to mush?

And I still have a few Christmas presents to wrap - which I will probably do tonight while watching Antiques Roadshow.  Yeah, I'm cool.  And if I manage that (the wrapping, not the antiques-show-watching) I might even be able to walk around my oh-so-cluttered room without doing some bizarre impression of those action-film-folks who are trying to pass through the laser-maze without triggering an alarm.

Hopefully I won't have to resort to writing angry notes to myself to get it done.

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

First Draft Complete!

I have finished the first draft of Hide and See!  Yipee!  *Confetti*

On the whole, I think I'm pretty pleased with it.  Of course I haven't read it all the way through yet so that might well change as soon as I do.  But I'm letting it stew.  If I go back and read it now I'll read what I wanted to have written, not what I actually have.

And so now I've moved on to writing the latest chunk of the secondary-world fantasy novel (or trilogy of novels) which I began about seven years ago.  I started it on my older brother's request and have given him sections of it for special occasions ever since - birthdays, Christmas, that sort of thing.  I normally gave him some when he went to the US and came home again, as he did every summer for several years.  This year was the first that he didn't go so there have been rather fewer chapters than normal.

The last time I wrote some of this novel was in March for his birthday - and I left it on quite a bit of a cliffhanger.  Major character death.  Oops.  And I really hadn't intended to leave it so long but the whole Hide and See thing happened and here I am, nine months later, and I need to dive right back into the story again.

I re-read the last section on Monday night, ready to use my train journey up to Bath on Tuesday to plot out what I was going to write.  The original plan I wrote several years ago has morphed a fair bit since then so I tend to re-think a lot, although the major events and the ending have pretty much stayed the same.

The planning flowed quite naturally, I am pleased to say, and I managed to plot not only the section I'm going to write but also the rest of the novel (which, being the third, would complete the first draft of the trilogy).  I don't know when I'll actually get round to writing all this but planning it out in my weird little flow-charts did make it seem a little more manageable.  Or maybe I've just got into a finishing-first-draft mood lately.

I started writing the actual section this afternoon.  I've only got about 700 words in but it's better than nothing.  The sections I write tend to be around 6-7k and I should imagine (fingers crossed) that I'll be able to get it done by Christmas Eve.  This is providing that Real Life doesn't get in the way.

Because, alas, it looks like that might be a possibility.

I have a job interview tomorrow.  Now, this is the point where I should be going 'YAY!  A chance at employment!  At last!'  Unfortunately, I am a neurotic head-case and thus have been a churning mess of anxiety since the recruitment agency phoned this afternoon.  I have only had one proper interview in my life before and I didn't even apply for that job.  I wasn't really that committed to getting it.  I figured it'd be good experience and just went along for the ride.

This time, it feels like there's rather more at stake.  I've been out of uni and among the (growing) unemployed masses for several months now.  I really should be getting a job and not being a bum.  And yet the idea of the interview and the possibility of a subsequent first day at work fill me with something rather close to terror.

And I'm worried that I won't have as much time to write.  Which makes me grumpy.

So in summary: I am stressed at the idea of the interview, grumpy at the thought of not writing, and annoyed at myself for not being happy about finally getting a job interview.  Good times all round.

And there's an opportunity to apply for an internship (paid or unpaid, I don't yet know) at the Jane Austen House Museum coming up early next year which, let's face it, pretty much sounds like my idea of bliss.  But if I have to be a grown-up-type-person I probably won't be able to do that.  Seriously: Jane Austen, all day.  In her house.  Jane Austen.  That author who I tend to randomly drop into all other subject matters or go crazy-ranty if someone calls her work chick-lit.  Yeah: I want.

Okay, I think that's me done whinging for now.  Let me check... yep, I'm done.  Blogs are like free therapy.

To conclude with an upside, did I mention that I'd finished the first draft of Hide and See this week?  Here's me, ending on a 'Whoop whoop'!

Thursday, 8 December 2011

MAs and Chapter Countdowns

I got my MA results through the post today - several weeks before I was expecting them, that's for sure.  Not only did I pass, but I also got a Merit!  I may or may not have squealed in excitement and yelled 'yes!', complete with fist-pump in the air.

Needless to say this is beyond what I was expecting and a lovely surprise to get through the post!  And I do love surprises!  (Nice surprises, obviously.  Not like 'Surprise, there's cat sick on the carpet.  Again.')

Now I just have the agonising financial expense of getting them hard-bound.  Probably wouldn't be too much bother to someone with a job - alas that I don't fall into that category.

But yay I officially have a Masters!  Stick with the positives here, people.  And I also managed to buy some things for Christmas today in Romsey which I have been looking for since around September.  So good day all round chaps :D

As for the writing shenanigans, I'm still on schedule.  I started Chapter 49 today.  After that, it will only be two freaking chapters left.  Of this book, obviously.  When I was writing out my more detailed flow-chart planny businesses for Chapters 48-51, I was already thinking 'and then in the first couple of chapters in the second book I could...'

No.  Stop it.  Finish the first bloody book first.  Sheesh.

Yeah, that's so not going to work is it?  Dear oh dear.  And I now need to maybe get a polished draft of Hide and See done by March as I'm considering entering the 'Good Housekeeping' novel competition as recommended by Reb.  It all depends on whether I can actually force myself to do some meaningful editing.  Hmm, miracles do happen I suppose...

Right, back to Chapter 49.  I've left them all smack bang in the middle of a gunfight.  Oops.