The Travel Hopefully Slog

I have written ‘THE END’!

Posted in The TH Slog by mand Season on Wednesday 21 April 2010

This morning it’s over.

Fifteen pages into Big Pink Book F, and just short of the 90,000 mark in twelve chapters (88,891 words according to yWriter) which counts as just over 90,000 words because there’s one early-on scene unwritten. Shorter than hoped, longer than feared.

That skipped scene is for the rewrite, as it didn’t and isn’t going to ‘just come’ so it needs building step by step, which is more an edity than a creaty process and can wait.

I’ve been expecting to feel relieved, as i have been looking forward to being rid of the thing. For some time the point has been, largely, to see if i CAN finish Draft One rather than being desperate to spend more time with my characters or find out what becomes of them. (Don’t tell Turner, my lead character!) But at this moment, i think i’m going to miss him. And it. The story, the world where it takes place, the colourful and somewhat eccentric characters, the writing of it, the lot. And that in itself is a relief.

Since i have decided not to pursue this as a definitely-the-main-ambition project – at least for the time being – it now goes into the Pending drawer. One day i may kick it into better shape, or add a thread to make it a decent size for a novel, or turn it into a longish short story. Or bury it for good. Whichever, it has to hide away for months at least before i can cast an objective eye over it. Bye for now, Turner.

Sometime (not now, i’m packing for a weekend away), i’ll tell you what i have learnt from writing a whole First Draft. Meanwhile… i’ve proved i can. What shall i do to celebrate?

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?

Another milestone zips past

Posted in The TH Slog by mand Season on Thursday 14 January 2010

This week i have made it past 70,000. The end is nowhere in sight*! So much for my estimate of 70K or a little over. I’m as bad as i ever was at judging how long something will end up, when not writing to a tight limit.

I did once come across a little widget thingummy that kept track of progress with a graphic, and you chose from a huge range of images such as thermometers, stripy worms, train tracks and so on. I think it was intended for publicising weight loss but you could use it for anything. Can’t find the site again! Tell me if you see something like that lying around…

* I say ‘nowhere in sight’ but i think i can see it. Faintly. Like the mysterious building on the opposite hill, and my useless guess at how long the walk will be.  ;0)

Solved it

Posted in The TH Slog by mand Season on Friday 13 November 2009

In fact i solved it a week ago. But it’s been such a week.

Here’s why to stop.

  • Fallen out of love with it
    – (NOT a reason)
  • Plot too linear
    – (not a reason: fixable)
  • Characters two-dimensional
    – (not entirely true, and, I think, fixable)
  • Superficial
    – (I don’t know – fixable?)
  • No idea of the ending; not ‘I’ve no idea how it will end!’ but ‘I have no ideas for possible endings. At all.’
  • Slog2 is calling… louder and louder…
    – (not a reason)

But I’m not going to stop.

It’s pretty clear to me that this will never be published no matter how much remodelling and redecorating it gets. That’s not pessimism, it’s obvious. Apart from the above faults, and the thing being stylistically to barely 6/10 my usual standard and the seam between headlong spontaneity and unenthusiastic roboticism being impossible to cloak, I understand that a first novel is never a first novel. No one gets their first into print. (I do know ‘no one’ is qualifiable but ykwim.)

And I’m SO slow. What word means the opposite of prolific? Everyone (qualifiable, again) is busy with NaNoWriMo at the moment and a fair few will achieve the 50,000 words in the month. It took me seven months to reach 50,000 and that was when it was going smoothly. Assuming my first novel (that the world sees) is my fifth or sixth – and assuming the rewrite takes as long as the prewrite and then the agent- and publisher-search take as long again (realism here) – I’ll be nearly as old as Mary Wesley was with her first published novel.

Now, I’m planning on ninety but I don’t know of any women in my bloodline that made it past eighty-nine and I have healthy problems that statistics want me to get real about. While refusing to get real, I also don’t want to throw away any years on lost causes. Call it insurance.

(For the same reason my latest resolution is to learn to read faster. So many books, so few decades.)

And yet…

I’m going to finish it.

A wannabe has a stash of unfinished novels. I’ve got a few already in my collection, though none got past 30,000 words before this. I’m not prepared to amass any more. Part of the training, the apprenticeship I’m committed to, is finding out if I have it in me to produce a FINISHED first draft. If I don’t bring forth a finished first draft, then, what has been the point?

And so I am going to stick an ending on it. Forget the arc I’ve been following – the intangible 150,000 (or whatever) that I’ve had in my head because where I’m at feels like halfway or at best two-thirds. I’m going to conjure up something sudden and adhere it somehow within probably another 10,000 words. Today, I don’t know what it will be. I won’t sink to deus ex machina but I will be wrapping up ends and tucking in threads in a frenzy of finishingness. I doubt I’ll let T take the job and the journey that have just been presented to him.

Meanwhile – ever experimenting with my own ability – we’ll find out if I can handle planning one book at the same time as writing another. Slog2 (which I need to rename before ‘Slog2’ sticks because it’s too ‘incidental’ for when it will be the main focus) won’t have to wait. No linear plot for this one, no narrow horizons, no liking the characters too much to put them through the mill till they’re out of shape. Oh, no. I’m thinking the actual writing will begin in the new year, perhaps when 2010 is a bit less new, and that’s going to be the real thing again, the discipline. Not everyone does it but routine works for me. There’s one of the lessons I’ve learnt in the past year.

Yes, on Sunday it’s exactly a year from the appearance of the opening words of my dear Slog. Quite a lot came out fully-formed. I’d love to show off those opening words, but I have more sense. ;0)

And you never know. In another year or three I may pick it up, read it through, and be surprised how much promise it has after all. Well, I can dream. If we didn’t live in our dreams we wouldn’t write fiction, would we?

I’ve found out I need to plan.

Posted in The TH Slog by mand Season on Thursday 15 October 2009

Plan. This is why: you have to make the reader care about your characters first and then beat them up. The characters, not the reader – though s/he should feel beaten up by proxy, when it happens.

And while living close to my characters (by spending part of every day in their company) I haven’t been able to bring myself to do the beating up, not mercilessly. I can throw problems at them endlessly and get high on following them through all kinds of entertaining situations, but I can’t do the truly awful stuff to them. So I need to concoct it all before I get to know them very intimately – and boy, can I be ruthless and mean when not thinking of people as people. Only then ought I to get up close to them.

It’s safe, then, to feel all the affection I can. The beatings will hurt all the more because the writer properly cares. I knew I would have to put myself through the wringer, and if you can squeeze harder by tying yourself to the mast – excuse my corrupting the metaphor – if you can take yourself and with you the reader through more painful experiences by making it impossible for yourself to untie yourself and escape, then that’s the method to use.

Therefore I’ve become glad that I had that break. It’s left me temporarily less involved with T, less fond of him – and now I’ve realised the next step is to dump unpleasant challenges on him, I can see that getting a little unhooked from him has made it possible.

There needed to be a bright side.  :0)

Next time methinx I’ll do some planning before I begin…