The Travel Hopefully Slog

Just to let you know

Posted in The TH Slog by mand Season on Sunday 21 November 2010

Draft One of the Slog was complete in April and I intended to write about what I learnt from the experience (apart from Yes I Can). I still intend to.

The trouble with sister blogs is that they’re more like conjoined twins sometimes. When one falls in the ditch beside the road, the other is stuck there too. In less difficult times they can step in for each other, say when one loses her voice for a bit, but not when one really keels over.

The Travel Hopefully Blog explains which ditch we’re lying in. Here, I just want to say that the Slog’s successor, which seems to call itself the Big Project – namely the next novel – has not suffocated out of existence but is having to hold its breath for a while. This one has a pretty structured plan to follow, so when I can set a start date it will know its route. The ‘Hopefully’ part will be not about where it’s heading, but the sights it sees and the company it keeps along the way.

Whenever I think about it, I get excited.


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…]

It’s all happening (again) – yay!

Posted in The TH Slog by mand Season on Friday 12 June 2009

In the last just-over-a-week i, tubigripped, dressing-gowned and mixedpollened, have done 17 handwritten pages, which i estimate to be about 4,000 words or more if i’m lucky. It’s hard to guess as my coverage of the paper is so variable. (I also have a chunk not typed up from before the hiatus, so the 41-nearly-42,000 words so far could be approaching the 50,000 mark; it’s nice to think so.)

And TODAY it started ‘flowing’ again. Good ol’ persistence arrogant pig-headedness.

Yes, it has been very hard getting back into it after the break. But for a month before taking that break, i was struggling to get back into it anyway. Without skipping a single day, i’d got myself out of it.

I don’t think it was about the travelling-hopefully principle – i do not think it was because of having no plan, or too vague a plan. I’m still in that state; i know roughly the end in a non-concrete kind of way, and i know (at last) what’s just about to turn up. I think it was because i kept going when i’d got lost.

UPDATE: Also, i think, it was having taken T out of his native country into another, very different, environment. I was muddling through without any real feel for the place. Normally i don’t need to think about a setting – not with my conscious mind. Normally i just need a vague visual impression and each detail shows up when a character focuses on it. For once, that wasn’t happening. So without going backwards for now, from here on i’m changing this second land into something else. They do say one of the best bits of writing is playing god…  😉

It’s interesting that my confidence isn’t back as fully as my words. I’m looking ahead to a lively conversation between T and a new character (not until tomorrow; i have my physical limits). I can hear their voices and i know exactly the outcome of the conversation. But i don’t feel i can do the actual words. T will talk his way out of a situation, and that’s one of the ways we differ – he has the gift of the gab and i definitely do not, at least not out loud (not so bad on paper, lol). I don’t feel i can put the sneaky, nimble words into his mouth that i know he will come up with on the spur of the moment.

It will depend on EITHER inhabiting the character, OR working really hard in an artificial-feeling way. That’s not the point. The point is that i, today, have no faith in being able to do it, which is unusual for when i’m in this it’s-flowing state of mind. Which i diagnose as a hangover from being choked by the hiatus. I’m interested to find out about the anatomy of this difficulty. I have had ‘writer’s block’ (not the term i choose) before, but have never come from it back into the work it sprang from. Until June 2009.  🙂

Lucky i do, really, know dialogue is one of my strengths. Dialogue, emotional truth, atmosphere. (Not as sure about atmosphere as i used to be, but it may be that i’m more ambitious with my settings nowadays.) Plot, realistic props, etc, not so strong. Can’t decide where to rank myself on world-building but otoh i don’t need to, do i? 😛 When i get the hang of plot, and stick that onto the things that come easily by nature, i can’t help but knock ’em dead.  😉

And now OpenOffice won’t open, which may be about Firefox so i will go offline and see if that is it. Though i only have nine tabs open this morning, about 1/3 as many as yesterday when OpenOffice was fine. But i’d better go and put some clothes on as well.

ps That was all typed earlier, though i had to get into OpenOffice to check my word count – and walk the dog and give her my lunch – before actually posting this at 3.30pm. I don’t want anyone thinking i sit around this late before getting dressed!


Posted in The TH Slog by mand Season on Wednesday 3 June 2009

I have tried several times, but couldn’t get beyond a few hundred words (less than a page) because of pain in my fingers / wrist / elbow. Coinciding with a big stumble in plot direction / arc / heck! it has stopped me for quite a while. It hasn’t had a good effect on blogging, either.

This week, even though my fingers have been hurting even when I wasn’t doing anything with them – using a spoon has been bad, as well as using a pen, keyboard or mouse – for some reason I’ve managed more. It’s not that I finally know where I’m going, cos I don’t.

The question of planning vs travelling hopefully has been much on my mind this last few weeks; I have a blogpost half written on the subject. This whole Slog has so far been on the understanding that no one, including me, knows what may be round the next corner. My principle is that as long as I know the end, I can write my way to it, and that’s always worked with stories – all my best stories, I think, happened that way.

My theory now is that I got bored, and that made the writing boring, and then that made me more bored, and that was the hiccup. I couldn’t have formed this theory before the mojo came back to me. (It may be a little premature to say it’s back, but hmf.) I don’t mean I got bored with the process of writing. That’s supposed to be boring – if boring means repetitive, never-ending or seeming like it, hard work, in short a slog. My boredom was with the content itself. And why was that boring me? Cos I was trying to be sensible.

This started out as a pretty surreal experience, an odd character in an odd place with odd things happening that he had to deal with. It still is, but as the things happened and he dealt with them, the logic kicked in. Consequences, y’know. I did carry on for a good month on the basis that ‘The art of writing is the art of applying the seat of the pants to the seat of the chair’ as I spotted today and immediately retweeted. I believe that, and uncannily the internet has been telling me it emphatically all through this, erm what can I call it, hiatus. But I also believe that if you keep ploughing on with admirable determination in your straight line and were one degree off course when you started, you’ll be more and more miles from your intended path the further you admirably plough.

I kept solving little nitty-gritty practical, logistical problems while being thoroughly bored by them. I should have leapt a day into the future, plonked T into a situation I found interesting, and got on with it from there. Getting on with it when I was lost didn’t get me very far at all.

So now I do believe what I’ve been hoping was true: I needed this break. Regardless of all the exhortations and admonitions there are around the place. Regardless of the fact that it’s ten times harder to write after a break from it. Yes, it is ten times harder (well, I haven’t actually measured the hardness) and it’s nothing like starting from scratch, cos at the beginning you’re full of that beginning-a-new-project thing. But what’s harder, compared with impossible?

Anyway I’ve done harder things even than this. Ye gods, I’ve done marriage. And kids etc, and the top of Helvellyn, and revising for exams I thought I had no hope of passing. And queueing when I was too polite to say I was in severe pain and needed to sit.

And btw I’ve done it again: submitted to one of Duotrope’s 25 Most Challenging Fiction Markets.  This time it’s to Futurismic, and am now convinced I have SO little chance I have made a fool of myself by even thinking of it. But hey, the Slog’s back in my life, so who cares!

Four measly hundred

Posted in The TH Slog by mand Season on Friday 3 April 2009

Yesterday i put in a few hours of solid work on a (writing) thing i owe someone, and couldn’t get my head around it. This was a discovery, therefore interesting. Interesting is positive. The context of this particular interesting isn’t. I want my old brain back please.

Today i have the hangover from that.

This morning 400 words. Provoked out of bed mid-sentence by the gas man wanting to read the meter, but he left his card instead (how Jane Austen of him) as i couldn’t come downstairs. My ideas are happy to write, but my body doesn’t want to, so i stopped there but at least i’ve got it typed up.

As long as i have ideas, i can push through physical objections so that’s the right obstacle to have.

Progress is likely to be glacial as today is end of term for both boys and in the next two weeks we have guests, Easter, guests and weekend outings. Shall i become a crochet designer instead of a writer?