The Travel Hopefully Slog

What i’m foretelling, what i can’t, and what i shan’t

Posted in The TH Slog by mand Season on Thursday 1 April 2010

Happy April, all.

I was hung up on word count in the beginning chapters, and gave it up while ago. Word count isn’t the point. Besides, when i felt the story was about halfway through, i decided to fold it up like a telescope – bringing it down to supportable length – or like an umbrella, reducing its width of coverage. (Similes, don’t you love ’em?) After that, the number of words shouted ‘failure’ in my face because i was looking at a much smaller total than i’d originally aimed for.

Besides, it’s not the most important thing. By now i’ve even lost count of how many chapters i have, partly cos i know i’m going to re-jig the structure anyway in terms of where to break the narrative into chapters, but also partly cos it’s just no longer interesting to me to count in those terms.

This has to be a good thing?

As it turns out, the end hasn’t happened yet, though it’s close now. And the count isn’t going to stop at 70,000 words, though at 60,000 the amount of telling i foresaw didn’t look more than another ten thou. And every so often the Type A in my personality jumps up and insists on caring about the numbers again.

Today i wrote ten pages in my Big Pink Book (Big Pink Book E, actually) which i estimate to be not far short of 2,000 words as it’s small print, meaning my handwriting wasn’t in scrawly mood this morning. I am rather surprised. The old buzz was there.  🙂  Given that yesterday i had to give up at 3½ pages, and THAT was as good as it’s got for yonks n yonks, you can understand i’m pleased.

My wrist still limits the amount i can do each day. Normally if i overdo the scribbling, i hurt in the evening, but yesterday i actually couldn’t hold the pen any more and had to stop with sentences still pecking at the inside of that shell to get out onto the paper. (Metaphor, even better than simile, you’ve got to agree.) Maybe that helped today’s output, though i usually try to leave it in the middle of flowing easily so as to pick it up the next day knowing what comes next.

Maybe, too, the physical restrictions affect the creative yield, in some subtle way such as fatigue affecting judgement. Seems plausible but i don’t know. (If that’s true it gives me a handy excuse for being not awfully productive.)

Anyway, i’m off to do a lot of typing up. I’m not telling you the current word count. Suffice to say my horizon has shifted and this manuscript may be heading towards the 100K rather than the miserable 80K which would edit down to a book far too slim to do anything with. Nor am i telling you what i’ve learnt from writing it, until i’ve written it ALL. What i’ve learnt is enough for at least a whole slogpost. And what i’m doing next… well. You didn’t expect to be told that today, did you?


Long time no Slog

Posted in The TH Slog by mand Season on Thursday 10 September 2009

I had to give in to circumstances, as you know, and it has nagged me that i also didn’t know where i was headed with the Slog – so if there had been no circumstances, would i have given in anyway to not knowing where i was headed? I’ll never know. I’m saving up my big effort for next week as i will have the house to myself again from Monday.

Meanwhile i’m getting back into the swing by using Storybook, which helps. (So much that i’m adding it to the Slog sidebar.) A lot of what i’m using it for is ‘unassigned scenes’ (not sited in a particular chapter) filling in pointers that hint at what’s to come, but aren’t in the ms because i wasn’t hinting when i wrote it because i didn’t know about that Metaphysical Subtext.

I have finally cracked the Metaphysical Subtext. I think. It happened by dreaming up another major character. I can’t recommend that as a method for getting through a patch of being stuck, cos i doubt you could decide to invent a character in order to getting restarted on the plot; this character came to me – not ready-made, this time, he’s more a rôle than a person yet – and since the plot problem was in my mind when that happened, my first thought was how he would tie in with the Metaphysical Subtext. And he can further that part of the story beautifully, taking T to places i really didn’t expect him to travel, which i’m now looking forward to.

The danger will be forgetting to keep the non-metaphysical, non-sub story in mind. Can’t just veer off onto a different course and then wonder how to join it all up back to where i started. But danger is diluted by being foreseen, and so once the Metaphysical is nice and solid (irony, that: solidity in metaphysics), all i will need to do is hang on tight to that easily-rolling narrative while daydreaming about the other plot, the one that started off as the only one.



Until next week, then, i’m in the process of taking a really deep breath before diving back in to what i feel will be cold, cold and pretty deep water. [I can do it i can do it i can do it i can do it i can do it i can do it i can do it i can do it i can do it i can do it i can do it…]

Made it to Chapter Six!

Posted in The TH Slog by mand Season on Thursday 5 March 2009

Heading towards 39,000 words. Which is nice, as it’s a bit like being nearly at 40,000.

My hands have been the problem lately, plus other domestic distractions and commitments. The hands have stopped me writing more than 1,000 words in one go, and that not only slows things down, but drastically affects the tension. You can’t get properly ‘into’ a story by reading it in little snippets, and you can’t pace one by writing it in little snippets. But that kind of thing is fixable at the revision stage. I trust.

I was reflecting yesterday that i do know my characters pretty well. I’m keeping the odd note on their history – which countries they have visited in the past, that kind of thing – but i don’t need notes on how fat they are, what their politics are, their favourite food… when those things crop up, i just have to ask them. Yippee. And it’s a relief that my main character isn’t just me, which i was afraid of. In fact i expected that, even though he’s male. He has different feelings about many things, a different tolerance for alcohol, different levels of courage and patience. Yippee, twicely.

I have started a longish poem called To capture a siren, and a shortish one called Kiss. Surely something else too, but this morning i don’t know what. And there you have my update for this week.

Fuzzy about the details

Posted in The TH Slog by mand Season on Tuesday 3 February 2009

I know i’ve done some writing in the last week. I know i’ve made a lot of decisions about which new pc, where to put it, how to store my backed-up stuff, and what to do while unable to get at anything to type on. Definitely i’ve lost two or three days of unbacked-up Slog, which i’ve retyped with a resolution always to email it to myself as soon as it’s hit the keyboard; and lost a few poems, but with those i’ll have to look at what’s backed up before i’m sure what i need to retype.

I also know i’ve scribbled about 500 words of the Slog, which is a little way into Chapter Five (not much, but it’s been havoc here – i’ve only typed it up in WordPad so don’t know the word count), and one or two (or three or four? it all blurs…) poems:

  • Devil of dust (not sure about that title)
  • Better things (doggerel, but the rhyming and scansion are correct) – i may blog that
  • Cataract, which i may retitle Rapid, this morning

Deciding whether to do anything with those book reviews or not.

Another delay, which i’m glad to do, has been preparing a blogpost i’ve promised someone i’ll publish asap.

This weekend has stretched to three or four days Slogless, and i have found that the third day is when the impatience to get back to it turns into feeling comfortable with normal life that doesn’t involve it. Danger! So i’m going to be disciplined later today, not easy with a loud son off school cos snow has stopped getting there, but possible.

When i think about it, i’m really excited about the Slog, not just that i’ve got this far but in a can’t-wait way, about where it’s heading. One worry has been that the premise was too thin – they say know the theme but i haven’t had it clear in my head. And now it’s coming, another layer of meaning is filling itself in behind the story (not in what’s on the page, but what’s to come). The meaning-of-life layer, which readers won’t have to ‘get’ but which will add depth if they do (think Animal Farm, except my lower layer isn’t political, more metaphysical). This is exciting.

Plus i’m more comfortable with how the strands of plot i’ve already set in motion will tie together – tie not as in knot, but weave.

And i feel i know most of the characters pretty well as people, and i’m getting fond of them, which helps with the discipline, as i look forward to spending more time in their company. Apart from the one i’m scared of.

This is both a relief and hugely tantalising as i have to wait before seeing it unfold! I’ve never got through a story so slowly before, not one that held my interest – cos i’ve only read them before, and writing’s far slower. In this respect, yep, it’s a bit like pregnancy, though i’m not finding any aspect of writing very like pregnancy.

Another part of me is disappointed, cos i wanted to write a grown-up novel. This isn’t terribly grown-up, on the surface, though it won’t be for children. Again, think Animal Farm. I keep getting snippets of what could go in the blurb on the back cover*, and one of them is:

A light-hearted (though not lightweight) romp** through a not-quite-Dickensian, not-quite-Arabian-Nights world of intrigue, surprises, and dressed-up animals

(I don’t even like dressed-up animals, Rupert the Bear and that lot.) Otoh, Animal Farm is pretty grown-up if you’re a grown-up, it just looks childish when you’re a child.

I’ve got myself all fired up again.  🙂

But i have some dead houseplants that i need to do something with, and have just remembered my lunch. Oh, prioritising, prioritising.


* They do say visualise the end product of your success made real.

** Romp isn’t the right word. The story fairly careers headlong, though. To my surprise – i’ve always been good at dialogue, bad at plot and pace.

Approaching the watershed

Posted in The TH Slog by mand Season on Wednesday 28 January 2009

It’s a kind of watershed, 30,000 words, cos i’ve never got past it with any work of fiction in the past. I’m only a few hundred words off that significant figure, having scribbled n typed nearly 2,000 today. This has got me well into Chapter Five.

A new character is shaping up nicely and in my mind i’m making all sorts of connections i hadn’t expected between him and some of the others.

All good!

In the last half-hour or so i’ve been looking through my older work – prompted by having a new pc to get in order – and am glad to find i have at least eleven pieces worth submitting. Where, i will decide another time. They’re a horrible range of lengths, from below 50 to above 500, which doesn’t make deciding easier.