The Travel Hopefully Slog

Year-beginning update

Posted in The TH Slog by mand Season on Wednesday 6 January 2010

I have started Big Pink Book E for the new year.  🙂  So far, very nearly 68,000 words typed up (well into Chapter Ten) and another couple of pages legible only to myself.

Works for me:

I’m deliberately not keeping quite up to date with the typing-up. That way, when (not if) i have to have an unexpected break of a day or two or seventeen, i have a few hundred words to type and that gets me back in the swing. A page or so usually does it.

The mind focuses better when typing than just reading – a bit like revising for exams by copying out your notes. (Kinaesthetic learning.) The only way i can immerse myself equally well by only reading is if i read aloud, and in this house that’s not always an option.

Something about Big Pink Book E feels better than Big Pink Book D.

  • It’s the fifth, and i prefer odd numbers;
  • It’s potentially the last, though i do think i’ll spill into F (and i prefer consonants);
  • At the moment it’s all (er, almost all) blank and pristine and not yet dog-eared.

I know dog-eared is positive, like a cuddly toy that’s visibly well-loved, but still there is the excitement of a new exercise book.

Childish. I’ve learnt: whatever works. I wish grown-up incentives worked for me but i can’t think of one that motivates me as strongly. (If it did, not doubt i’d write political thrillers or something.) So let’s go with childish.  🙂


I put my write hand in, my write hand out – in, out, in…?

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

I’ve just read this on The Intern (which looks to be a good blog, both useful and entertaining):

Lack ‘o’ identifiable conflict (especially in the first few chapters) is a major problem with first drafts.

That’s a relief. The Slog’s lack of conflict wasn’t at the beginning, which started with a crunch (not a bang – T is too wimpish to do bangy things if he can get out of them), but once i began to worry about tying threads together and weaving in metaphysical fibres, things got a little un-tense. And they’re still droopy. But if that fault is common in first drafts, then it’s ‘allowed’ – that makes it one of those faults i was prepared for. I didn’t know i knew about this one in advance, but obviously i did.

Hm. Seems i’m still thinking like the writer of this Slog. Yesterday the possibility of salvaging it for short stories was leaning me towards getting of the ride, and now the possibility of repairing the unravelled middle is leaning me towards staying on till the ride’s finished. Aagh, againly.

Vanity blogging?

Posted in The TH Slog by mand Season on Tuesday 22 September 2009

The point of documenting my Slog is not, honest, it really is not, just the public diary-keeping aspect. I’ve learnt how many such blogs are out there and they’re not the most inspiring read unless you’re already mad about the writer. The point of this is mainly to help motivate myself – which function it is fulfilling – and also for posterity, for the future time when i’m as big as Tolkein (or Doris Lessing would do) and the world will be tearing my work apart for A Level and degree essays: the (cliché alert) warts-n-all, blow-by-blow account of how even the great mmSeason once struggled and suffered for her creativity.

So in the spirit of that, i’m announcing that today i wrote 838 words, which is three pages in the Big Pink Book and a little less than most recent days, and brings the Total So Far to 57,650. The big sixty is in sight. Be happy for me.


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!

Something’s shifting

Posted in The TH Slog by mand Season on Thursday 26 March 2009

It didn’t feel like block. That’s not the name that came to mind. It doesn’t feel unblocked. But today i’ve scribbled maybe 500 words, which DOES feel like relief. Samantha Clark’s advice made me feel i’d had a hug, which helped. It also helped to be told to forget about joining up the plot.

I’ve got my main character, T, in a situation where he needs some secure privacy for about twenty minutes to go through the contents of a bag and assess what he’s carrying. Just realised that i was pootling along trying to find his alone-time. Got him into a public toilet, but the door didn’t lock. Got him a hotel room, but he has to share it. Finally i see that i’m not planning an itinerary for him – i don’t need to be sure he has a Plan B at every step in case he misses a connection. That uses the left brain that i’m trying to keep out of this creative First Draft process; the left-brain, think-in-grids stage is Revision. Obvious, i know.

So i’ve just started from sometime (an hour? a day?) AFTER he’s had his look in the bag. I’ll find out exactly what he saw when it gets mentioned, but i know all i need to: he has enough of the right items, it has cheered him up, he thinks everything’s hunky-dory now and is feeling clever about some of the problems he’s just managed to sidestep. (Little does he know… heh, heh, heh.)

The Reader will need this explaining. When we went backpacking he liked to have the train timetable always open in front of him as well as memorised.

But the Reader (sorry, dear Reader) is extraneous.  80)

What it did feel like was laziness and excuses. But hindsight (we all love hindsight) says it was keeling over cos i hadn’t taken a break when i needed to pause.

It’s only 500 words, and i only know the next two steps – perhaps the next half-hour of what’s going to happen to T. Something is keeping me on a need-to-know basis. My own brain is keeping me on a need-to-know basis! And i’m collaborating with it. How weird is that?

But however sluggishly, the Slog’s moving again. Baby steps, baby steps. Confucius said, ‘It does not matter how slowly you go as long as you do not stop.’ OK, so it will matter if i’m still only halfway when i’m ninety. But for now, it’s a comforting thought.