It’s been a summer of semi-solid writing for me. A little bit selfish on my part but worthwhile all the same and very enjoyable to boot. So I’d like to offer a quick apology to my on-line friends for not seeming to be around much over the last couple of months.
I’d also like to say a big thank-you to the continuing trickle of new readers and especially those who’ve taken extra time to post reviews for Firebird and Thunder. I’m really grateful for your encouragement.
So, how’s G’host coming along then? Well, I’m satisfied with what I’ve managed over these last few weeks. I’ve written around 15,000 words of draft which takes the base text to circa 45,000 words. Allowing for edit, that’s about 40% of my target length. Importantly, these 45,000 words are the opening and, for me, this always takes the longest. Once the scenes are set, the key characters are in place and the main threads are initiated, the writing tends to feel like it’s all downhill from there. That’s not to say the rest of the story will be easy. Or that I won’t get bogged down or blocked from time to time. It’s just that the start, for me, is always the longest part of the process. Perhaps that’s because I’m a future-thinker and in my head I can always see where I’m going more clearly than where I am right now? Perhaps this is just normal for writing? Who knows?
And, on the subject of downhill from here, I suppose I should also mention that I’ve just turned fifty … Long pause … I’m not quite sure how this milestone crept up on me, or how I feel about it, but my friends and family have done a fabulous job of making sure I didn’t just ignore it! I’d like to thank them all for not allowing me to follow my normal routines and let it pass by unnoticed.
So this is where I am. Fifty, not out … and still chipping happily away.
Apologies for a lack of posts recently. I’ve been concentrating on G’host for the last few weeks.
I find that summer is a productive time for my writing, especially during my holidays, so now is the time of year that I like to concentrate on getting as much as I can done, away from the normal distractions of work.
Anyone that’s written any lengthy piece will understand that keeping across the detail and content of a long document is a hard task on its own. To help with this, especially when only being able to find time to write every few days, I use two separate supporting documents: a character biography and an executive summary.
The character bio is a spreadsheet with the character names across the columns and various facets of the character down the rows. Facets include physical characteristics such as eye and hair colour but also include character, background, role and plot points.
The executive summary is a simple word table. Each section of text is summarised into a few key bullet points and as I don’t generally try to write stories from front to back any more, the exec summary comes in very useful when I’m shuffling fragments into their final running order. It also enables me to more quickly get my mind back to where it was when I last finished tinkering.
Anyway, to the subject of this particular meandering post, I’ve just renamed one of the lead characters in G’host. Bearing in mind that I’ve been contemplating this story for many years and actually chipping away at it for two, this is something of a big deal. Well, for me at least!
It’s the right call though. Both main body text and character bio did not “look” right. I’d been searching and searching for an alternative and, to some extent, it had been stopping me from getting on with the writing. But, I should have known better. One moment, out of the blue, the answer just appeared in my head. The new name works much better and, with a little bit of “find and replace” magic, the new name has now peppered itself across the manuscript.
The lesson: it’s amazing what the right name can do for a character. So don’t be afraid to experiment with different ones if you need to!
Finally, thank-you to the readers who’ve recently posted reviews for Firebird and Thunder. Your kind words are, as always, greatly appreciated.
To be … whatever you want to be!
And on that basis, here’s a quick update on what’s been happening in my busy world over the last few weeks.
First off, I’ve managed to find a few fragments of time and done some more work on G’host. Admittedly, not as much as I’d have liked, but some all the same. I’m pleased about that, but also slightly disappointed that I’m not going to be able to post a scene from it, here, as a tribute for the holidays.
The scene I am working on suits the season very well and my idea to use it as a post is what inspired me to get back to the keyboard. Unfortunately, inspiration can only get you so far, and tiredness from several months of long work days doesn’t facilitate good prose. So the scene is coming along but is, sad to say, nowhere near ready enough for a public airing.
It is, however, nice to report that I’ve had some more, very nice, positive feedback from a number of readers over the last month. This is always a real joy. Thanks to anyone who’s ever offered encouragement to any writer: dark days haunt more than just winter months…
I could blather on about restarting my ski-fit regime in readiness for heading for the slopes next year, or about finally sorting my kitchen out after six years of putting up with randomly painted duck-egg blue walls but, as you can tell, it’s not exactly rock and roll news, and so I’m not going to waste any more of your precious seconds in the countdown to the big day…!
Rather, I’ll close by saying: to any stranger who happens past, and to all of my kind and wonderful friends, I wish you all a joyful Christmas and prosperous New Year.
See you in 2014…!
Summer holidays seem like a far distant memory already. My day-job has been mad-crazy busy since the moment I returned to work and seems hell-bent on consuming every fragment of brain space I have available. As a result, when I get home in the evenings, and even over the weekends, I’m exhausted.
Writing, for me at least, is not just about stringing together the first words that come into my head. Nor just pumping out scene after scene on the basis they’re what I thought of next. For me, writing is something more like an enormously complex collage or jigsaw puzzle. Sections of text can be written, then carefully positioned, augmented, trimmed and shaped so that the whole becomes more than the sum of its parts. Whether or not I’m any good at that is a matter of debate: most often between my various alter-egos and sometimes between my reviewers. But the bottom line is that: I’m not going to rush my writing.
Anyway, despite my tiredness, I am still chipping away in the background on G’host. I’ve added a few thousand words – mostly character and world introductions – and will keep at it through November whilst I try valiantly to ignore the annual roar of speed-written enthusiasm that NaNoWriMo will no doubt spawn across the on-line writing communities…
… in the land of the living.
Yes: I’m back from my holidays. For the record, I only had a couple of cheap weeks on the beach and returned a while ago to the usual chaotic crash-dive of return-to-work-related issues. To be honest, I feel like I need another break already!
But enough of that. My holiday did exactly what I needed it to. It cleared my head and, sitting on the beach, a little bit every day, I’ve somehow, amazingly, drafted over 25,000 words of my next story.
Being straight with you, I’m under no illusions that many of these draftings will end up in the recycle bin. Equally, many sections will require considerable, relatively easy, expansions when I start pulling it all together into a comprehensive whole.
When I get some time, I’ll pull together a graphic like I did for Thunder, to illustrate progress. I have no idea whether any of my visitors find this useful but, hey ho, it does serve as a bit of self-stimulus to make sure I keep putting in the writing hours!
Anyway, I suppose I ought to get back to the somewhat abstract title of this post: it’s a veiled reference to the subject matter of the new novel. I’m not going to reveal too much yet, but I can say that I’ve settled on the title…
The next book will be called G’host.
Time for me to vanish for a while.
For many months I’ve been wrestling with good and bad spirits, and now it’s time for me to put some dedicated effort into ensnaring them; in black and white.
I’m hopeful that a stretch of golden sand, some warm weather, blue skies and crashing surf will provide a suitably undisturbed backdrop for my notepads and meditations.
So wish me luck and see you soon… :) AB
A writer friend of mine (The Mistress of the Dark Path) is running a Halloween themed short story competition on her blog site.
Normally I don’t get involved in this kind of thing but, as I was laid up with my bad back at the weekend (now thankfully getting better!), I thought to myself, ‘Why not?’
A couple of random hours later I’d knocked up the requisite thousand words, managed to weave in a bit of a fun (a potentially dangerous habit of mine as this time it involves the Mistress herself (thankfully she has a great sense of humour)) and satisfactorily de-spooked myself for another year. It’s not perfect (by any standard) but it was an amusing interlude to my normal writing.
She’s had quite a few entries and one of the rules is that I can’t post the story here until after the closing date so, if you’re interested in having a look before the big day itself (or fancy having a go for yourself!), follow the link at the bottom of this post and see if you like the little “ghostlies” that are gathering there (mine is lurking somewhere in the middle)… Enjoy…
Time for me to get back to Thunder now.
Follow this link to check out the Mistress of the Dark Path’s October Short Story Competition