Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Well that's that then

I haven't been longlisted for the Mslexia Novel Competition.

Because I am obsessive (checking my email, asking after the post, looking at Mslexia's website over and over), I searched online for any mentions of someone being longlisted for the competition - and found a blog post by a person who had.  Written almost a month ago.

She'd been notified by email right at the beginning of November.  It feels like a heck of a long time that I kept hold of my false hope, but now that I know for sure I kind of miss it.

Probably not a healthy attitude but hey, this is my brain we're talking about.

I knew early on that I was placing too much expectation in this competition but no matter how hard I tried to stop I just couldn't help it.  Now the disappointment has put me in something of a bad mood, with that annoying voice in my head whispering that it must mean my best writing's not good enough.

I try not to listen - because I love writing, I really do.  I guess I just need to go back to doing it for me now, not some faceless professionals at the other end of the post.

Right, I'm going to bugger off now.  I promise next time I'll try to be less pathetically morose.

Toodley-pip!

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

Limbo

I've been feeling a little bit in limbo these past couple of weeks, and it's all Mslexia's fault.

Obviously it's really my fault but it's easier to lay the blame on a faceless external entity.  And if we're being truthful here, I would admit that - despite my best efforts otherwise - I have placed far too much hope in this novel competition.

The longlist is due out this month and since the deadline in September - or probably before that - I've held it up as The Standard at Which to Aim.  If I get longlisted, my brain says, my writing is good enough.

All attempts to get my brain to shut the hell up have thus far been in vain.

I am perfectly aware that the Mslexia competition isn't the be-all and end-all.  I know this.  But it doesn't stop the brain and it doesn't stop my first thought on reaching home in the evenings from being 'has there been any post?'

I need to think about something else.  I need a distraction.  And a useful, productive distraction (for all that watching cat videos on youtube has its appeal).

Book three seems like quite a good option.

Thursday, 24 October 2013

Oh Half Term, how I long for thee

Half-term approaches - and it cannot come soon enough.  There's a special kind of exhaustion that comes with spending every working day somewhat stressed, and I am so ready for a break.  Not being what amounts to a professional nag for a week will be rather nice.

I'm off to York on Saturday with my sister to visit my little brother (that 6'4", 19-year-old, living-away-from-home little brother, who refuses to be anything else in my mind.  Younger.  I need to think 'Younger'.)

Horrendously long and boring train journey notwithstanding, I'm really looking forward to the trip.  Heck, even the aforementioned train journey has its perks because it'll give me a solid block of time in which to write with few interruptions.  Alright, the chairs aren't comfortable and the legroom is downright painful for someone over 5'7" after a while, but with the outrageously priced wifi at least I won't have the internet to distract me.

Progress on book 3 has been fairly steady if not particularly voluminous.  It's coming along in little chunks scrawled down during my lunch breaks, though this does mean I have to type it all up at some point.  I think I need to rearrange my desk.  It currently isn't very suited for such a task.

I ironed out a much clearer plan earlier in the week too.  I'd thought I'd already done it, actually, but when I went back to look at my Grand Plan for Book Three, it was rather more scribbly-and-on-several-scraps-of-paper than I'd remembered.  It's a little more ordered now, thank goodness.

I think.  Gosh, I'm paranoid I'm imagining order where in fact there is chaos.  Better go check it again.

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Writing the book I want to read

I saw a post on Tumblr the other day which got me thinking (always dangerous, I know).  The gist was that the writer who'd made said post would rather be reading the book they were writing than having to go through the effort of writing it.  Make sense?  Probably not.

While I can't exactly agree with the sentiment because of how much I enjoy the writing process, it did strike me.

In an extension of my thoughts about readership in my previous blog post, the Tumblr comment allowed me to think about my work as a reader - but not about some other, hypothetical people who might one day read my novel.  More what I would want if this was a book I was reading rather than writing.

It sounds like an obvious thought, typing it out here, especially as this was how I always wrote, back in the day (when I were a nipper...).  I don't seem to do it so much anymore.  In planning book 3 I've thought an awful lot about what I need to include but not a great deal about what I want to have.

So I made a list (I do like me a list) entitled 'What Would I Want from Book 3?'  And the points I wrote were actually quite surprising.

But I won't go into the specifics of what my exercise produced.  For those who are familiar with my series, there could well be spoilers; for those who aren't familiar, it probably wouldn't make the blindest bit of sense.

The result is what's important about all this - that I'm suddenly much more excited about book 3 than I was before.  I've made only small changes to my plans but it made a big difference to my mind-set.  This is a book I want to read as well as write.

Chapter One's pretty much done and Chapter Two is coming on a treat.  I'm really looking forward to getting stuck in!

Thursday, 19 September 2013

Reading like a writer?

My entry for the Mslexia competition has been sent off.  The acknowledgement SAE hasn't arrived yet, which gives my brain the perfect opportunity to go: 'But what if it got lost?  What if it never gets there?'  I trying tell my brain to be patient but experience has taught me that getting my brain to shut up is about as easy as squeezing blood out of a stone.

Entering this competition made me think about my work from a reader's point of view.  Not for the first time, obviously, but in imagining the Mslexia judges reading my work, it all feels a bit more real than it ever had before.

And it got me to thinking about how I read books, which is certainly different to how I did ten - or even just five - years ago.

Take those ones I read over the summer.  Some books were better than others, naturally, and a couple of them annoyed the heck out of me, but for reasons that I'm not sure would have bothered me if I didn't write as much as I do.

The best of the books I enjoyed were the ones where I got so lost in the story that I forgot I was reading.  I could just sit there, compulsively turning the pages, unable to concentrate on anything else.  There was at least one which I stormed through in less than forty-eight hours, simply because I couldn't not read it.

Others... well, one in particular comes to mind.  I shan't name names, simply because I wouldn't want - however incredibly slim that chance is - for the author to read it, but it did irritate me.  The plot was painfully slow moving, and the characterisation - a bit ropey from the start - became so increasingly ridiculous that it was a mammoth struggle to even finish the damn thing.

But judging by the amazon reviews for this book, I am by far in the minority in my views.  Am I just wrong (entirely possible) or am I so used to reading stories in an editing frame of mind that the smallest mistake leaps out of the page?

It's so difficult to just read as a reader now, I think, because I've learnt to 'read as a writer' and can no longer switch that skill off.  Inconsistencies in plot, an odd clumsy phrase, a repetition of a word three times in a paragraph - it all snatches me out of the narrative in a way it never did before.

Sometimes I miss being able to get easily lost in a story and miss the little bumps along the way.  But I suppose this skill is a valuable one, and will lead me to books which are truly excellent.  In my opinion, obviously.  One man's trash is another man's gold, or something along those lines.

I just hope that one day, my writing will be someone's gold.

Saturday, 7 September 2013

Back to work

I gave up trying to motivate myself into writing a blog post in August.  I know a losing battle when I see one.  This was probably a very bad, lazy decision on my part but I went with the option that had a great chance of success - namely, waiting until September, when I would go back to work and would therefore be able to compose my posts during my breaks without the oh-so-dangerous distractions of the internet, books and DVDs.

And so here we are.  I've returned to work after my long summer break, of which everyone is very jealous (although they wouldn't be if they saw the resulting paycheck).

Despite my horrendous inability to run my blog during the summer, though, I have at least been able to accomplish others things over the past few weeks.

I did a complete redraft of my book 2 (tentatively titled The Hunters and the Hidden), which I now, hesitantly, fearfully, think is ready for a beta reader.

I also prepared my entry for the Mslexia novel competition (deadline later this month), which is pretty much ready to go.  Hopefully I'll print it off this weekend and send it off next week.  I think I've formatted it correctly.  The whole thing gave me vivid flashbacks to uni, picking my way through submission guidelines in terror that one tiny mistake would lose me precious marks.  It's rather hard to convince myself it's finished.  I'm trying to tell myself it's now ready, that I don't need to do anything else to it.  The truth is I probably could've sent it off a week ago.

A fair amount of my summer was spent reading as well.  As bizarre as it sounds, I don't have much time to read during the weeks I'm working, despite the fact that I'm a librarian.  Surrounded by books for eight hours a day and very little time to open the darn things.

But I managed to storm through around ten during July and August, which was lovely and - I like to remind myself - beneficial in a more 'professional', writing-as-a-career kind of way.  So many times I've been told that a writer must read.

Strangely enough, I find myself more than happy to oblige.

Sunday, 30 June 2013

Characters

I've been thinking about characterisation a lot at the moment.

At first it was just for my antagonists - wanting to make them three-dimensional, characters with motivations and justifications rather than moustache-twirling cackling villains tying distressed damsels to train tracks.  I wanted them to believe they were protagonists of their own story - and I wanted the reader to see it too.

Then I started considering my protagonists too.  Were they complex, multi-layered characters or just vehicles for driving the plot along?  The last thing I want to have my main characters be is either dull or mary sues.

And I want them to be likeable.  I read an interesting blog post the other day on 'The Bookshelf Muse', where one of the points was about this.  As they said, who wants to read a story about someone they dislike?  I know I never do, and have often abandoned reading a book part-way through for precisely this reason, no matter how interesting the plot could be.

But frustratingly, I'm not sure I'm the best person to judge this - or at least, not on my own.  I know the characters I want to write - they are clear in my head, often to the smallest point of their personality.  But does that translate to the page?  Because when I re-read it, I could just be seeing what I meant to write and using my own knowledge of the character to fill in the gaps.

And what about personal taste?  Not everyone has the same favourite characters in a book or film or tv show.  Who's to say that a character I love (either one of my own or from someone else's work) isn't loathed by others?  I know you can't please everyone but is there a way to please the majority?

One way I've come to think of it is by way of a famous example: the Harry Potter series.  I have never heard anyone say they detest the character of Harry - but neither have I heard anyone say he's their favourite.  Naturally there will be people who hold these opinions but it doesn't seem to be a common view.  Does this therefore mean that main characters are better when they're less extreme, to lessen the risk of turning off potential readers?  Or are people simply drawn to those more on the periphery, because an element of mystery remains?  Or is it another reason entirely?

Or maybe I'm just thinking about this too much and giving myself a brain-ache.


Sunday, 23 June 2013

What if...?

Plans for book 3 are storming ahead with new ideas and theories springing into my mind throughout the day, although more often than not at completely inconvenient times - say, at work or when I'm just going to bed.

But ideas are good and I'm not going to gripe too much about when they appear - I'm just glad that they do.  In fact, they've been appearing so much that I'm starting to wonder... is one more book on this story going to be enough?

There are so many things I could do, mythologies I can create and develop, that I've started almost thinking - a soft, barely-there whisper in my head - that taking it to 4 or 5 books might not be as ridiculous as it sounds.

After all, the last thing I want to do is try to cram too much into the third book and just end up making a mess of it.  I know I have the tendency of trying to squeeze in more than the words will allow and I don't want to leave this story with a half-arsed conclusion because I couldn't fit everything in.

However, I don't want to become that writer - the one who drags a story out when it should have finished already.  The one where you read the books and think 'this isn't necessary; this should've ended two books ago.'  And how can we tell when we reach that point?

But this is all just pondering - nothing's set in stone.  That's what the planning process is all about, right?  Having a good old think about the possibilities.

Wednesday, 5 June 2013

Book Two

A couple of weeks ago I hand-wrote a blog post during a break at work to type up when I got home in the evening.  In it I went whinging on about how I had almost finished this chapter, but those chapters were still not finished and that chapter was being a bitch, yadee yada ya.

But when it came to typing it up, I realised that rather than talking about writing, it would be a much better use of my time if I just did it.

So I did.

The first draft of book 2 is finished!  Hurrah!

And now I'm feeling a little... lost.  I've been working on the damn thing for so long that I can't really remember what I used to do before it.

I really want to dive right in to editing it but I know that the whole process works better after letting the novel 'stew' for a while.  Looking at it semi-fresh eyes will show me what I have written rather than what I had wanted to write.

So instead, I've started planning book 3.  There are a lot of strands I've collected during the first two books which I need to untangle and tie up in the last novel.  I also don't want to delve into actually writing book 3 until I know that book 2 is doing at least approximately what I need it to do.  So planning for the third book can only go so far.

This means that once I've done the bulk of the primary planning, and while I'm waiting for book 2 to cook, I'll probably have to start on something completely new.

Now isn't that an exciting thought?  Terrifying, but exciting.

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Odds and Ends

I'm still in that 'odds and ends' stage, and it's starting to get annoying.  I've no-one to blame but myself, obviously - unless you count the sunshine which had the audacity to appear in all its wondrous glory on a bank holiday weekend, of all times.  Wouldn't have believed it if I hadn't seen it with my own two eyes.

But because of said wondrous sunshine it felt like such a waste to spend all of the Monday in front of my computer, and Monday was the only free day I had of what became a very busy weekend.  I did manage to squint determinedly at the family laptop for about an hour in the morning while seated at the garden table though.  I typed up what I'd handwritten during my breaks at work, filling in a couple of gaps in chapters 48 and 49, as well as the first five-hundred words of the final chapter, 51.

The problem, I suppose, lies in the fact that I do most of my writing during these breaks and it's only ever in my notebooks.  What I need is a good few solid hours in front of my computer so that I can finally nail these last five chapters down.

And by 'nail them down' I mean finish the first draft.  I am so far away from them actually being finished finished.

They say that the rain, cold and cloud is set to make its dreary return for the rest of the week, and it certainly looks that way outside my window this morning.  I'll have to look for those silver linings and try not to miss the sun too much if it means I can complete this damn draft.

Saturday, 27 April 2013

Books

I need to read more.

This isn't a problem I ever thought I'd have.  Especially not now - I mean, I've crammed my bedroom with as many books as it will hold and I work in a library.  If there's one thing I'm surrounded by all day, it's books.

But so far this year I've read less than half-a-dozen new books.  Very poor show, I'm sure you'll agree.  I'm currently 500ish pages into Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin but have found myself a little... stuck.  Perhaps I expected too much from it but I'm not particularly enjoying it.  I'm even finding it, dare I say it, a bit boring?

Of course the problem could lie in the fact that I've watched the tv series, though having experienced a story in another medium has never been an issue for me before.  It is no doubt a highly unpopular opinion but I'd anticipated more (and therein lies a problem I've ranted talked about before - I don't much care for high expectations).

Part of me wants to persist, though, if only so I can get to the point in the story which I haven't yet seen.

Another part of me, however, thinks that all that sounds like rather too much effort, thank you.  I don't want to have to fight with myself to read - with so many books and so little time, maybe I should be sticking to those books which grab me tight and don't let go until the very last page.

That sounds like the sort of book I want to read.  And, you know, write.

Thursday, 18 April 2013

Major Catch-Up, reporting for duty

Wow, it has been a long time since I last wrote a blog post.  My excuses, which must inevitably arise at this point, start off pretty valid but then sort of peter out towards the end.

In March I was hit by a rather horrid bout of flu, which left me too pathetic and useless to do anything much beyond stare blearily at terrible daytime telly and feel annoyed at my under-performing immune system.  It lasted about three weeks and by the time I was better again the Easter holidays had arrived.

Here start my excuses which aren't quite as convincing but are nonetheless legitimate.  I went to Plymouth to visit my older brother and his fiancĂ©e over the Easter weekend and on my return spent the rest of that week participating in the Great Redecorating Feat which is my bedroom.  I therefore, ladies and gentlemen of the jury, had little time for blogging.

(I did reorganise all my books on my lovely new bookshelves though!)

But as the second week of my Easter break came around (ah, how I love working for a college sometimes!), my excuses become somewhat less convincing.  Why didn't I blog during that time?  Well... you see... I just... um... didn't.  Yeah, that's pretty much the sum of it.  Fully recovered from bouts of both flu and decorating fever, I was tragically struck down by a lack of motivation.  I knew I should write a blog but not doing it just seemed infinitely easier.

But I suppose the blog-writing isn't really the most important casualty of all this.  It's the novel writing which, while not having suffered a complete halt, has slowed down far more than I'm happy with.

I did manage to keep my chain unbroken during the last month and a half, writing every day when I was ill, if only a couple of sentences.  Some of it even managed to make sense, I discovered later when I typed it all up.

But the fact still remains that I'd hoped to have finished the first draft of book two by now and I haven't.  The final five chapters have all got bits and pieces - the earlier ones more so than the latter - but have yet to become whole.

So now comes the task of filling in the blanks - and doing it without going horrendously over the word count.  Oh well, miracles do happen.

And I have a major catch-up to do on everyone else's blog posts which I haven't read in so very long.  All in all, I've been a very bad blogger.

Wednesday, 6 March 2013

Character Depth

Chapter 47 is under way, though now because of work I'm back to the bits-and-pieces method which means that I need to type the past couple of days' work up at some point and fill in the gaps.  I seem to be writing it in an even greater number of places at the moment which means that a big part of my next page-to-screen transfer will be actually finding all the bloody stuff.

I'm still reading The High Lord by Trudi Canavan - it's so good I want to eat it.  Or cry.  Or cry while eating it.  I read 350 pages on Sunday but have had to slow down considerably since then due to the inconvenience that is Real Life.  I've a little over 100 pages to go and I don't want it to end (this is more where the crying part comes in).  I'm also terrified that one of my favourite characters is going to die.  It's a dangerous thing to grow emotionally attached to a fictional person over whom I have no control.  I find I don't care for it.

But back to characters over whom I do (theoretically speaking) have control over.  I read an interesting quote online yesterday - 'You don’t really understand an antagonist until you understand why he’s a protagonist in his own version of the world.'  It's by a writer named John Rogers and, alas, I'd not heard of him before.  But I do like his quote very much.

It made me think about my own antagonists and whether they had enough depth.  When I was writing my MA dissertation - for which I used part of Hide and See (aka Book 1) - I was told to try and think more about the backstory of my characters.  I wrote one piece relating to my main character's principal adversary.  It's less than 1500 words, just a small but defining scene from the woman's childhood, but it helped to explain her motivations - motivations which I hadn't really considered before I sat down to write them.  And although that piece won't make it into any of the books, it did - and continues to - make her more human.

Somehow, though, I need to recreate this deeper knowledge of her onto the page without stating it explicitly.  How I do this is something of a mystery - is this a thing I need to do consciously or will my deeper knowledge of the character bleed through subconsciously when I write her into the story?  I have no idea.

What I do know, however, is that I'm finding this character to be far more interesting than I ever imagined she would be.

Tuesday, 26 February 2013

A reader reaction to aspire to

The latter part of my half-term break did end up being rather productive.  Yes, I know, I'm surprised too.

I wrote Chapter 43 on Wednesday, 44 on Thursday and Friday, and 45 on Saturday and Sunday.  And just as I finally, gloriously, got into the swing of writing for the bulk of the day again, work reappears, rudely waking me from my creative bliss to remind me that, alas, real life does still exist.

Not that I'll stop writing now that the holiday is over obviously.  I'm still committed to my Don't-Break-the-Chain method and will continue to write every day, providing no great calamity occurs or that I just don't bother waking up and getting out of bed one day.  Believe me, it's a very tempting thought sometimes, especially when winter just WON'T BUGGER THE FECK OFF!!

Yeah, I'm needing me some sunshine.

During the break I also finished The Novice by Trudi Canavan.  I've said it before and I'll say it again - my goodness it is an amazing book.  The standard of the writing, the characterisation, the intricacy of the world, the imagination behind it all... I just can't help but gush.

When I finished it, I literally hugged it.  Yeah, we're all perfectly aware that I'm a nerd etc etc, but if someone, somewhere, ever loves something I've written enough to hug it, I will be a very happy author indeed.

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Half-term

I don't think I've even visited my Blogger homepage since before the weekend, meaning that I am behind on reading other blog posts as well as updating my own.  Shame on me etc etc.

Half term is finally here!  Yipee!!  We are, however, already halfway through which isn't rather dampens the enthusiasm a little, especially considering I haven't got quite as much done as I'd hoped.  I guess I shouldn't be surprised - I'd needed a bit of a rest but now really do need to kick my arse into gear.

Chapter 42 is done and 43 in underway.  I'm aiming to get 43 done this afternoon/evening.  I think it would be good to write a larger chunk in one day because I sometimes worry that the bits I do during breaks at work sometimes lack consistency.  I'm usually writing them out of order and in a couple of different notebooks and I think the narrative often suffers for it.

But that's what rewriting is for - and I'm sure I'm going to have one hell of a job when it comes to editing this draft.

I'm also a good way through The Novice by Trudi Canavan.  Bloody hell but she's a good writer.  Of all the books I could have picked to break my embarrassing-lack-of-reading streak, I'm glad it was this one.  The copy I had, however, did have about ten pages around the middle of the book which had the first line chopped off of each page due to some rather creative binding by the printers.  A quick stop at my local library had me grabbing another copy.  Thank goodness for public libraries.

Right, back to task.  My main characters are in a race against their enemies and I need to use google earth to decide their route.  Writing is a strange business.

Monday, 11 February 2013

Ten chapters to go

Today I started on Chapter 42, which means I am ten chapters away from finishing the first draft of book 2.  Put like that, it feels like I'm on the home stretch - then I remember that that's still around twenty thousand words.

In terms of story rather than word- or chapter-count, it certainly has the air of approaching the final climax of the narrative.  I'm about to write the last chase, leading to the last fight.  It's all very exciting - or at least I hope that's how it's going to read.

It's half-term next week and I aim to get three chapters done within that time.  By the time I go back for the second half of the term (ugh, why am I thinking about that already) I should really be on my way towards the end.

What I haven't done a lot of lately is new reading.  While I'm always reading (and re-reading) bits and pieces here and there, I've not read an entire new book this year and that's just ridiculous.  It's February for heaven's sake!  So another one of my half-term tasks is to pick up one of the many books waiting patiently on my shelves.

I'm thinking Trudi Canavan's The Novice, the second book in her Black Magician Trilogy.  Her writing's always just fantastic in such an effortless, easy way.  I bought the book months ago and really should have read it by now.  Shame on me.

That's the problem with travelling to work by car - it's not really all that appropriate to read at the same time.

Fortunately, I'm going up to Bristol this coming weekend (woohoo!!) so I'll have time to do some reading on the way.  It really seems as if being on a train is the only way I can guarantee some quality book time.

Monday, 4 February 2013

A Fantastic Weekend

My trip to London this past weekend was amazing.  As someone who is not a fan of London to the point of actively avoiding going there, I am pleased to have had such a lovely time.  A big chunk of that is down to the company of my younger brother, but also to the 'show' (for want of a better word) which I talked about in last week's blog post.

I have tried to describe to people just what I was going to see/had seen but 'show' isn't specific enough.  However, I don't know a word for an event in which there are book readings, songs on topics like science, Harry Potter and fish, questions answered on a timer in which the loser gets slapped in the face, and, among many other things, a heck of a lot of cheering.

It all sounds bizarre when summarised like that - and yet it was incredible.  In fact, it was better than I'd hoped even though I broke my rule and went in with high expectations.  It was like two hours crammed full of in-jokes, but ones you share with several hundred people rather than just a couple of friends.

The show was so diverse, crossing from hilarious one minute to deeply thought-provoking the next.  There was a good chunk of literary discussion to delight my bookish soul, with John Green talking about his novel in a wonderfully mature and confident manner to a crowd who were mostly in their teens, proving that he truly believes what he preaches in refusing to talk down to young people as if they lacked intelligence.

But now it's back to my own novel.  The trip meant a good deal less writing this weekend, though I did manage to do some both days (don't-break-the-chain is still intact!) - now I just need to type it up.  It all got a little confusing last week.  I thought I was writing Chapter 40 during my lunch breaks when, in actual fact, that scene goes in Chapter 41.  So both are - at this point - about equally incomplete.

Two weeks until half-term.  It'll be great to have several days in a row to really knuckle down and do little else but write!

Monday, 28 January 2013

John Green, London and Lizzie Bennet

I had quite a productive weekend, yesterday in particular.  I managed to complete chapters 38 and 39 which up until then had been fragmented and missing considerable chunks because of the way I write bits and pieces by hand during the week and transfer them when I get home.

But I don't want to talk about that.  I want to talk about next weekend.  I'm going to London to see John Green in his The Fault in Our Stars book tour and I'M SO EXCITED!!!

John and his brother Hank (who together make up the vlogbrothers, about whom I must have squealed before) are performing (if that's the right word) at several locations around Britain, officially to celebrate the anniversary of the release of TFiOS but more as a gathering for their fans overall.  'Nerdfighters' is the term but that's a whole other story.

And while I travel up to London on Saturday, my younger brother will be travelling down from York, making an exciting trip even more awesome!  He will meet me at Waterloo Station because, even though he's my ickle baby brother (eighteen years old and six-foot-three) I can't get around London on my own and he can.  Cities confuse me and London is just a baffling web of lines, buses, trains and people that I just can't get my head around.  Poor little Bumpkin Bouf.

I reviewed The Fault in Our Stars a while ago (here) and I find that every time I read it, I love it even more.  It's one of those books that I can just pick up, turn to a random page and enjoy.  It isn't a genre I would normally read and I wouldn't know the first thing about trying to write it, and yet it stays with me long after I've turned the last page.  Every time I find something new to admire.  There is something so deep about it and I wish I could produce that myself.

On a complete different subject, I'm going to end by wishing Pride and Prejudice a very happy 200th birthday.  You aren't my favourite Jane Austen book but you are bloody marvellous and I'm heartily enjoying getting over-excited about your current web-series adaptation (The Lizzie Bennet Diaries).  Hip hip hurray!  *Party Popper*

Monday, 21 January 2013

Writing by hand

So here I am again, on my lunch-break, writing my blog.  The first time round, obviously.  This is actually currently me typing it up in the evening.  Jeez, I need to stop writing books where the main character is a Seer - I'm thinking in more than one time at once.

It would have made more sense for me - instead of handwriting this in one of my many notebooks - to use a staff room computer to type it up directly.  The problem is that I spend many hours of my working day staring at a computer screen, so during it again during lunch feels distinctly unappealing.

Of course I do then come home and spend a bulk of my evening in front of a computer screen but I'm a contrary being.  For a technophobe I really do spend an awful lot of time using technology.  And swearing at it.

I find that I do still write a fair bit in longhand when it comes to the actual novel stuff.  In fact, I handwrite more than I used to when I was at uni, which surprised me when I thought about it given that my lectures, not to mention the many train journeys, were generally away from computers.

I can see the benefits of writing longhand, though.  It adds in an extra drafting/editing process during the transfer from page to screen, not only for stupid mistakes (what's the handwritten equivalent of typos?) but also for when a sentence or phrase feels jarring or just plain rubbish.

Writing by hand also (at least partially) removes the temptation to compulsively check the BBC weather website.  I need to stop wishing for snow.  Everyone else seems fed up.

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Pretending to be an adult is tiring

Monday before last, I started my new job (or new role, I should perhaps say) and it's full time.  And full time work, it turns out, doesn't leave me much time for anything else.  Or better put, I'm too much of a wussy to deal with it like the rest of the adult population does.

This isn't really a massive surprise to me.  My Christmas holidays were consumed by this almost countdown-like feeling, and not in the game show sense.  It was like I was running out of time for my writing and that once I started full-time, my progress would suffer.

This prediction has proven to be true, although perhaps to a lesser extent than I'd feared.  I have managed to keep writing every day, maintaining my don't-break-the-chain streak, but the amount has dropped somewhat.  I did one and a bit chapters last week rather than the typical two-a-week I was previously working at.

Also, the blog has suffered.  I just didn't have enough time to write a new post, something which irks me given how I like to post every week, lest it die out completely.  This one here was actually written in my lunch-break at work, ready to be typed up when I got home.  Working on the actual novel-writing has to take priority after all.

However I'm hoping that, as I get used to the hours, it'll get easier.  Plus I'm crossing my fingers for a quiet weekend.  Or maybe a snow day?  Pretty please?  Yeah, I think we're more likely to get a heat wave round here.  But I can dream...

Wednesday, 2 January 2013

2013

The New Year is here!

I've seen people on facebook, blogs and the like reflecting on 2012 and I found myself wondering what I think of the year gone by.  It had felt a little stagnated, I guess, though I'm not sure I could explain why.  Perhaps I just haven't made as much progress as I would have liked.

That's where all the Resolutions come in, I suppose.  And one of my major ones this year is regarding agents.  I hereby pledge that I will write some letters, preferably soon, to beg for an agent.  And I am perfectly aware that I've been saying this for a while but perhaps with the weight of the New Year business behind it, it might actually work.

My problem is that I never seem to do anything without putting considerable thought behind it first.  I don't know why this is or whether it's a good thing.  But it is what it is and, once I get over the stage of over-analysing the idea of writing to agents, I will hopefully get on and actually do it!

I managed to keep writing over the holiday period, although the output did drop significantly during the few days either side of Christmas.  I did keep to my don't-break-the-chain method, even doing a little bit on Christmas day itself, in between too much turkey and lots of lovely presents (Books!  Lots of books!)

I'm currently on Chapter 33.  We're now approaching the climax of the story and I'm anxious to keep the pace up.  I guess I'll only know that when I finally finish this draft.  Here's to a productive 2013!