A Brief Update…

I’m torn. Part of me feels guilty that it’s been so long, but the other part of me is trying to be a realist and remember exactly how hectic life has been recently. That I’ve passed out before 9pm every night this week (often before the kids have) is tribute to how exhausting things have been.

I forget exactly where I was the last time I blogged*, but this is where I am now:

  • The first draft of my second novel is complete, rested (a little) and now being worked on. I burned out a bit at the end, so spend a couple of much needed weeks off playing Fallout (3…sadly I’m not flush enough with cash or time to justify updating our PS3 yet). I was reluctant to get back into it, but made myself tart up a chapter to take to my writing group, and not only was it well received but seeing the prose tidied up gave me hope again for the story as a hole, so I grabbed at the momentum and have been working on it since.

 

  • I’m going against the advice to print and read the whole thing in one go. I tried it last time, and found I got overwhelmed by the pages of scrawl and notes everywhere. Because I know a lot of the issues that are in the first draft I’m doing a brief read-edit to get the whole a bit tidier before I do the Big Read. Hopefully it will help me get a better overview with fewer things to niggle over.

 

  • I’ve mentioned before that I like to use a spreadsheet to log my wordcount. I’ve found that logging my editing days and notes is just as motivational. It lets me see how well I’ve actually done when I’m on a good run. I’m focusing on time spent, change in wordcount (goes up and down depending on what scenes I’m working on need), notes on revision tasks undertaken, and general notes (usually along the lines of “Urrrgh, so tired…”).

 

  • I’ve been working on a couple of short stories-one horror, one children’s picture book (diversifying much?!). Both started well then stalled for different reasons. I’m hoping to dip back into them when I get a bit of inspiration or I need a break from novel revisions.

 

  • I’ve been reading more. Largely because I got to actually have some holiday during my recent holiday, and I remembered how lovely it is to read a book properly instead of in 1-2 line chunks before someone interrupts me, so I’ve been making more of an effort to get those longer lengths of time (although that’s largely come at the expense of writing time, so I’m not sure how sustainable it will be. Hopefully as the kids get bigger and life gets a little calmer…hahaha!)

 

  • I’ve been outlining(!!!) my next novel. This was partly something I’d intended to do, then used to procrastinate starting revisions! As it is I’m enjoying dipping in, partly because it’s my Big One that I devised the concept for before I’d even started writing my first novel (it was initially going to be a board game, but it turns out board game design is HARD! Who’d have thought it, huh?!), so it’s already been stewing a while, and I’m happy to let it grow. The most productive parts have been writing short character pieces and scenes in the world, rather than trying to force a plot (I tried this and have scrapped most of what I came up with because it felt so…forced!)

So that’s pretty much me for now. I’ll try to make more effort to update, and who knows, even talk about non-writing things!

 

*I could (and maybe should) check, but I promised myself this would be quick else I would have argued myself out of logging on!

Round 2: Lessons Learnt and Starting My Second Novel

It’s been a while since I updated and a lot has happened, though not so newsworthy to actually write about. Kids are growing (if still refusing to sleep), work is stressful, and all the usual stuff. The writing has been going well, however, although the time pressures have meant blogging has had to take a backseat to writing.

In the spirit of moving forwards, I finally trunked my first novel. I still like the story and hope to use elements of it in the future, but it’s morphed drastically a couple of times since its first inception, and whilst it’s taught me a lot, the amount of work still needed is more than I’m willing to put in. It’s a little disappointing as I was hoping to refine my editing skills by getting this story as honed as possible, but a few things made me realise that I’ll be better investing my time elsewhere.

So here’s what’s been going on:

  1. I’ve been working on my short fiction. It started as a bit of light relief from the momentus editing albatross hung around my neck, and also some last minute panics when I needed something to read to my writing group. But it’s actually taught me a lot about structuring a story, filling in details that keep the story flowing (I tend to underwrite, so this is a biggy for me), and giving me practice at the sentence level restructuring I’ve been desperate to get to practice but was no where near ready to do with the novel.
  2. I got my first set of feedback at the absolutewrite.com water cooler. Priceless. Absolutely bloody brilliant for critiques (at least the Sci-Fi/Fantasy section)! My writing group is lovely, but much more a supportive, cheerleading group, than the thorough critiques that really push ones writing forward. and this site got that corner.
  3. I’ve made my first submission. Only for a short (as mentioned, novel #1 is not going to see the light of day any time soon!)It’s still in the pipeline, but it’s for a major, paying market who publish some really quality stuff. Whilst I’m not so delusional as to expect it to be accepted, the piece has had almost universally good feedback, and it means a lot to me to feel like I stand a chance at that level. So, excited, but realistic about my chances!
  4. I’ve started Novel Number 2. It’s different from Novel Number 1, but still has some elements of style that I’ve discovered I like. I’ve also used it as an opportunity to embrace my Science/Biology background that seemed to work well in the short stuff I’ve done, and that’s got me even more interested!
  5. Further to point 4, I’ve been a-planning! After initially deciding I was a pantser, then getting exhausted with the rambling, ever changing mess of my first novel, I decided to put a bit more effort into structuring this one. Doing so has made me realise I’m not such a hard and fast discovery writer as I thought-even with my first WIP I had to stop to plot out the next chunk of story to get it clear in my mind. So I’ve embraced that amalgamated method, kicked things off with KM Weiland’s Outlining Your Novel Workbook, and dotted to and fro between writing and planning ahead. The proof will be in the writing, but so far it’s working well.

So, that’s a brief update on the big things in my writing. I will try to update more regularly, just…time!

Still, forging on for now! 🙂

I’ve got the hump. Rewriting is hard.

A somewhat token update, as it’s been too long, but my brain is still messy with sleep deprivation, so apologies if things don’t quite make sense…

I’m making slow progress with my second draft. Like with the first draft I’ve struggled to get a foothold to work from. I find I’m reluctant to launch into a process that feels like it will be a waste of time, so I’m going over my “safe” bits and hoping that clarity will come.

It’s been pretty up and down, not least with my youngest starting nursery, the end of maternity leave homing in, general exhaustion, lack of inspiration…

I keep thinking I need a break, either a few days’ recovery or rest period where I do nothing on it. 2 days ago I declared I was done with writing, being totally inadequate to the job. The next day I was back tapping away and have to admit my hypocrisy to my long suffering husband. So I keep finding myself pottering; editing or writing. Drip drip drip every day, never quite sure the bucket isn’t just filling with mud.

I’ve mostly been playing with pov. I found myself writing in first person present tense, no less. I was surprised because I’m not a big fan of reading it. But it felt…right. The writing is better and clearer and reads more naturally. Because I know (vaguely) where things are going I’m less worried about careering ahead than during my first draft and have been taking the time to rewrite different start points, perspectives, motivations and outcomes. Which I suppose is about as good a use of a second draft as any, even if it does feel slow.

Now if I could only get enough sleep to stop my brain from dribbling out through my ears I might be able to do it at a pace that will get this draft done before I go back to work in a few weeks.

I might just go for a nap first…

The Wait of the Words

Revisions are tough!

After embracing the flippancy and adolescent carelessness of first drafting, my writing suddenly needs to grow up and get a job.

These are my piteous excuses for hideously slow progress of late:

1. Time. Lack of.

So unique. I feel semi justified in using this because I have genuinely sat down to write a number of times over the last month only to be called away after 10 minutes by teething/puking/poorly children.

2. Technical dexterity. Lack of.

I can write on my phone and tablet, but I have yet to find a way to edit without accidently deleting large chunks of text. I would gain so much time and capacity if I could work this one out.

3. Confidence. Lack also thereof.

Some of my writing time recently has been used for applying to a local writing support scheme. This entailed submitting a small sample of my work, which involved polishing and editing some of the horrific mess that I’ve been trying to ignore in the process of sorting out the actual story. It took me far longer than it should, because (on more than one occasion) I ended up in tears at the hopelessness of my case. Where is that mythical voice? Frolicking on an airy mountain between the slippery slope of stark facts and the alluring meadows of purple prose. I submitted in the end, but phew, the stress!

Despite my chronic deficiencies, there have been some positives:

i. Craft swatting. Blogs, vlogs and pubtalk. Multitasking to learn like I never did at uni. Also been watching some vlogs on reading which gives a really interesting perspective.

(Thanks to Ava Jae for helping me work out that my ms is probably NA, and all the things that has helped to clarify.)

2. Physio has helped me get out and about a bit more or walks etc. which has helped with location inspiration, technicalities and general mulling.

3. My brain is still ticking, and every day or so some little puzzle works itself out. Backstory here, links there…puzzles are a-slotting together…

Uhoh, the baby cries. Back to excuse #1 again…

Writing vs. The Second Law of Thermodynamics

Phew! After a progressively more intense few months, I have (hopefully!) emerged from a teething bout from hell. Last night I managed to get an hour to finally start some of the huge checklist of revisions that I’ve been itching to do since New Year.

It’s felt totally overwhelming trying to work out where to start. But as my ms pinged onto the screen I was relieved to see it 1) all intact still and B) starting to fall into a better order than my brain had allowed me to remember.

So thank you, entropy. A little less energy can lead the way to literary equilibrium after all.

(Although maybe not a long term strategy for ever finishing anything…)