Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Time to Lady Up

My post is rather late this week - not that it really matters to anything but my OCD-brain.  The excuse is that I was in York from Saturday to Tuesday and thus haven't had much of a chance to do anything internet-related until this evening.

I did have long periods of time where I was sat in front of a laptop, however - the train journey to and from York, over four hours each way.  Seeing as Cross Country want to charge extortionate fees for use of their wifi, I went all stone-age and used the laptop only as a text-document-creator for the entire journey.  Crazy idea, I know.

I have, therefore, managed to get Chapter 17 and half of Chapter 18 done, although 17 desperately needs a read-through and 18 will probably require a lot of growling and gnashing of teeth before I'm done with it.

Given that I am currently experiencing the glorious joy that is half-term, I should have some time (though not as much as I'd like) to do some more work on it over the next couple of days.  I'm also hoping to get to the local library in search of a Writer's Handbook which is less than ten years old (mine, alas, is from 2001).  There I will find oodles of agents all just sitting there waiting to receive my manuscript and prepared to clamber over each other in order to get me on their books.

Then will come the horrendous task of editing my wreck of a synopsis into something which doesn't read like it was written by a six-year-old.  Not something I'm looking forward to but I just need to man the f* up (or 'lady the f* up' as we like to say in our house at the moment) and get it done.

Monday, 22 October 2012

It's not like I'm counting down the days or anything

I warn you now, this blog post is going to be shite.

I feel able to say this with reasonable authority because this is the third time I've started this post and I have deleted the previous attempts with high levels of contempt.  So I apologise.  Really, you're probably better off just getting out while you can.  Go make a cup of tea.  Or read a book.  Books are good.

The reason for the impending shite-ness is most likely my generally grumpy mood this evening.  A dangerous decision, then, to write a blog post under such circumstances but if you're a regular reader of this blog (you have my sympathies) then you will know what I'm like with deadlines.  Deadlines or death! (Or at least a relatively good excuse.)

I am in a way happy to report that said grumpiness is not the result of a lack of writing, which is otherwise often the cause.  While Book Two (STILL NEED TO DECIDE ON A TITLE) isn't exactly tearing along at a terrific pace, it is at least moving and I'm still working with my metaphorical chain unbroken.  Hurrah!

I see no cure for the grumpiness tonight other than to frown it out, so I will instead look forward to brighter days - i.e. the end of the week, when half-term finally arrives and I get to bid farewell to work for a week.  And I'm going up to York on Saturday to visit my younger brother so a big HURRAY for that!  I will have to choose a book, methinks, as I'm currently 'between-books', as a normal person might be 'between-jobs', and will need a good one for the four-plus hour train journey to the wilds of the North.

Apparently there might be snow.  I'm sceptical but then it is quite a long way up.

The various notebooks will of course be accompanying me to York so that I can continue to write and in the process worry that I'm not keeping track of my word count.  It'll be a good opportunity, though, to do some more work on the background to my world.  I've given up for now in my quest to find books about the beliefs of medieval witches after the last book on witchcraft I got out of the library told me that such a book needed to be written but that this wasn't it.  Helpful.

So instead I'll be making stuff up out of the madness in my head.  Brace yourselves.

Monday, 15 October 2012

Witchcraft research

This weekend I finally got round to doing a bit more research on the history of witchcraft.  I say 'finally' because I got the books out of the library in around July and have been continually renewing them ever since.  I kind of feel bad about it but the library really shouldn't have made it so easy for me to do so, all online and far too convenient.

I've found it a little trickier than I'd imagined, this research.  Because in many ways I'm essentially a Victorian, I prefer researching from books but unfortunately my local library didn't have the biggest selection.  There were basically two books on the subject, both only vaguely relevant.

The problem is, really, that I'm not looking for witchcraft history in terms of how witches were perceived and persecuted (the witch-hunts etc) but rather their beliefs and traditions.  I've not really found a great deal on this, I assume because they wouldn't exactly have written it down and made it freely accessible to the outside world, what with all the death and everything.  I could be wrong, of course, and would be very happy if this were the case.  If there is a source I'm missing I'd love to know what it is.

The books I have are both very different from each other.  One documents a very basic history of witchcraft and how it operates today.  This book does document beliefs, ceremony and tradition etc, but much of it is 'New Age' and thus apparently originated in the 1970s.  The second book is a heavy-duty academic study about Anglo-Saxon traditions, but deals little with the actual beliefs and more about the status of 'magic' and its users in society.

I'm not really looking for an absolute definitive guide to historical witchcraft practices because I intend to manipulate it anyway, creating a Chinese-whisper-like history for my own world.  But at the moment I feel like I'm working off very little.  I need something to base my manipulations on.

Maybe I'll just have to let my imagination loose to run free as it likes.  Now there's a scary thought.

Tuesday, 9 October 2012


The chain remains unbroken.  It has, in a way, been a surprisingly easy habit to settle into, with my day feeling off if it gets to the evening and I haven't done any work on my writing.  It helps, I suppose, that up until about a month ago I used to write most days anyway, and that I enjoy it.  If I had to do something tedious every day - like ironing or dusting or clothes shopping - I probably would have given up by day three.

This isn't to say that I've managed to get a huge amount done because, alas, I haven't.  This week (and particularly the weekend and yesterday) having been particularly hectic means that I haven't got down as many words on the page as I'd anticipated.  But no worries - I've done Chapter 12 and half of Chapter 13, which is all better than a kick in the teeth.

I'm hoping to get quite a bit done tomorrow afternoon.  Since the Evil Blue Chairs of Death (the bane of offices throughout the country) have found their way to Mottisfont, I've been getting back pain and thus have cut down my time archiving to just half-days.  This has at least freed up my Wednesday afternoons for what I hope will be some much-needed writing time.

Also, I am currently reading Heartless by Gail Carriger, the fourth in her Parasol Protectorate series.  I got books three and four for my birthday and, having speedily digested book three within a couple of days, I'm taking a more leisurely pace with this one.  The language is gorgeous and there's such humour in the series which I'd forgotten about since reading the first two.  I'd highly recommend it for fantasy readers who want something well-written but which doesn't take itself too seriously.

In other news, my little baby brother (i.e. that six-foot-three, eighteen-year-old, straight-A-achieving young man) has gone off to university in York.  Given that he is the main person to whom I nerd-out about certain things, it's all been a bit of a shock to the system.  Unfortunately for him, it took him a couple of days to find people who weren't obsessed with getting plastered every single night but he found them at last, so hurrah!!

I will not wish I was back at uni... I will not wish I was back at uni...

Oh, who am I kidding?

Monday, 1 October 2012

Don't Break the Chain

I'm starting a new thing.  And I don't mean a book - I mean a way to work more consistently on my writing.

Earlier in the year, I was writing pretty much every day.  It would have to be a pretty hectic day for me to miss doing any writing-related work at all and, even if one day's stuff would be utter crap, at least I was moving forward.  And you know what they say: the more you write the better you get.  I'm a firm believer in this statement, especially considering the car-crash of some of my writing back in college.

So, this thing.  It's called 'Don't Break the Chain' and I got it from a video from a youtube vlogger, the Stephen-Fry-approved charlieissocoollike.  Here's his channel, and here's the video itself.

The idea is simple: to write (or do whatever task you wish to do consistently) every single day, without fail.  Essentially, not breaking the chain.  I'll be printing myself off a little calendar within the next couple of days to pin on my wall so that my little OCD-brain can happily cross off each day and I can pretend that I am actually a productive individual.

I originally watched the video when it first appeared in April and, while I liked to idea, I didn't implement because I didn't feel I needed to.  I was motivating myself tolerably enough (I recall through the rose-tinted delusion of my mind, while if I look back at my blog posts I might, in fact, be lying).  It wasn't until going back to my 'proper' job last month that I found my production levels dropping even further than my grumpiness-inspired levels of August.

Therefore, we're going with the crossing-stuff-off-of-charts/calendars thing.  I made this decision on my birthday, perhaps as some sort of age-crisis thingy, and started it the next day.  I have managed it each day since then, despite the absence of an actual calendar, and while I haven't suddenly completed the second book, sent it off to agents and received a staggeringly fabulous publishing deal, I have made some progress.

Chapter 11 is finally done, after having been growled at for a significant amount of time, and Chapter 12 is underway.  I'm having a fight with some character names at the moment, though that's more to do with a personal fascination with symbolism than anything to do with the plot.  That and a couple of vexing students at college - both sharing the same first name - had the same name as one of my characters.  Given that I was starting to be intensely annoyed by said character, the baby name books came out again and it all sort of snowballed from there.

I'm closer to getting a preliminary title for book two, but it probably needs me staring at it for a few more hours until I'm satisfied.

Right, back to the names - I know there's a perfect one in there somewhere.