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?

Quick year-end update

Posted in The TH Slog by mand Season on Tuesday 29 December 2009

One thing to say:

67,000

and another thing:

:0)

Back in harness – and out of harness cos of interruptions – and in harness again – and i can’t see the point of dragging up the details. But i will have a completed first draft by the end of February.

(And you know how good i am at telling the future.)

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?

A dead horse?

Posted in The TH Slog by mand Season on Monday 2 November 2009

I told you some time ago that if you didn’t see many blogsposts here, that was a sign things were going well with the Slog – all the words were going into that instead of into Travel Hopefully. I lied.

Seriously considering ditching this Slog.

  • A different, better structured, less linear, more emotive Slog keeps badgering me.
  • The fear keeps looming that even if i rescue this Slog from its mid-point sag, the seam will show for ever. Even in the work of experienced authors, i can usually spot where the go-slow happened. In a first novel with all its other shortcomings, surely it would glare out at the least perceptive reader.
  • I keep reading interviews with successful writers who habitually let go halfway through a novel to write other stuff, with no apparent ill effects.

The biggest argument against dropping it now – at least for a break, if not permanently -is that this was partly (largely!) an exercise in stick-at-it. Seeing if i could stay to the end, not only seeing if i can produce anything worth looking at. (Same mindset as got me through my Finals!) Another thing i keep reading is professionals saying everyone’s ‘first’ novel is actually their fifth or sixth, or twentieth. Just recognising that this isn’t going to be The One is not enough reason to give up on it now. I knew i’d go through doubt; i knew i’d have patches of being sick of it, of feeling incompetent to complete or even continue it; i knew there would be days and weeks (though tbh i didn’t expect months on end) of wishing it was all over, or believing it ought to be. I even knew some siren-like new project would beckon and solicit me, especially while the creativity was flowing well. So when those happen they’re no excuse for quitting.

I’m fine with temptation, i can put my head down and plough through it as if it wasn’t there as long as i know that’s what is needed. The difficulty is knowing whether this is temptation, or wise instinct, prompting me to change direction completely. Is the slog a dead horse… am i ridiculous to keep flogging it? Historically i am known for hanging onto things long after it’s obvious they’re going nowhere. But i’m also known for not carrying ideas through to their conclusion.

The question has been in my head for weeks. I took a step nearer to putting this Slog in the airing cupboard, in the middle of the night last week when it occurred to me i could still get a lot of material from it. The past year (yike! on Sunday it will have been a whole year) wouldn’t be 100% wasted if i turned parts into longer-short stories and suchlike.

{{writhe, writhe, groan}}
:0(