The Travel Hopefully Slog

Eight hundred and fourteen words written and typed up today

Posted in The TH Slog by mand Season on Wednesday 16 September 2009

Yesterday i caught up with myself: typed up two days’ scribbles plus a bit left over that hadn’t been typed before the summer. I’ve set myself a new target of nine hundred words a morning – nine hundred, cos that is three pages of my Big Pink Book. This week – ok, i know Monday to now isn’t statistically significant, but i’m sure of myself at the moment – i’ve stuck to it. Lower than the plan i used to have in mind but it seems to be what i can realistically do.

This brings Chapter Eight to 4,300 words and the whole thing to 56,000 if i’ve added it up right.  :0)  Chapter Three is for now a sentence reminding me what’s going to happen in that bit; and about 9,300 words are doomed to be scrapped cos i changed history for T. I like to think that cancels out – though of course it is still ten (or eleven) -ish mornings’ extra.

Told you i’d get back into the swing. It feels VERY good to know what’s happening next, and something of why that’s happening – ie what it leads to – and to have a shapeless-but-substantial idea of what happens in the end.* Can’t say i’ve been in that situation ever before, with this story. (In the past i’ve set out to Write A Novel a few times, some of them with a very clearly laid-out plan, but i’m not counting those as they have faded out. One or two are not dead and may one day be resuscitated, but they can’t be included in the evidence for How I Work because on them, i didn’t work.)

* I’m also quite looking forward to where i’m about to take T and what we’re about to encounter there.

I still feel this is ‘nearly halfway’. It’s been feeling like ‘nearly halfway’ for a hell of a lot of weeks. Bit like that middle part of a long walk when you keep thinking your destination will come into view from the top of the next hill, and at the top of that hill you revise that to probably from the top of the next hill, and ‘next’ keeps adapting its meaning. Eventually of course you do reach the pub and sit down for a well-earned and very welcome ploughman’s.

If i had a definite total word count in mind, i’d have a better idea of how far along i am. At this very moment i’m thinking that to produce a finished piece of about 100,000 words, i’ll need a first draft of about 150,000. Don’t know if the proportion i cut from a work this length will be the one-third that it usually is from short fiction. This is why the Hopeful bit’s up there with the Travel title!

Anyway. Having got this lot into OpenOffice, i got distracted researching skinks and tabards. All relevant!


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…]

Cracked it! :0)

Posted in The TH Slog by mand Season on Friday 28 August 2009

Remember that metaphysical subtext? The one that had to be there but only made its absence felt 20 or 30 thousand words in? I’ve got it!

Well – not in substance, yet, but i finally know what it’s about.

So it’s not exactly that i’ve opened that door… It’s opened just a smidgen, not quite enough to get a foot in. ‘Ajar’ may be too strong a word. And it’s not swinging open, it’s sticking, making horrible noises and refusing to budge any further.

But i don’t feel the need to strain and heave at it yet. Getting it this far is today’s success. That heavy old door is no longer locked and immune to battering, kicking, prising and open flames.

I also suddenly saw how to make my cartooning work better – not that i’m a cartoonist – and a possible way of de-cluttering. (In my dreams – i know, i know.) So this is a day of yippee.

Brief update on this morning’s post which went out this afternoon

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

I have typed nearly 4,000 words this afternoon/evening, and that’s about 2/3 of what was sitting there untyped. Reached stuff written in June, and stopped. Not sure how long it took me – far longer than it should have with a past as a touch typist – but however long it was, i’m hurting all over from it.

But it means i will total about 47 or 48,000 when it’s all typed (without scribbling any more), and i have arbitrarily designated the end of a chapter so that brings me into Chapter Seven. This number, being close to 50,000, makes me feel good.

By being bigger than 40,000 it makes me feel good, as well. That ’40’ has been stuck in my consciousness for too many weeks.

I wondered about skipping some of this back-into-the-groove scribbling – not typing it up at all. Lucky i did in the end, as some ideas that came to nothing may still be useful in one way or another. For example, i set up a wedding party gathering ahead of T and another character as they go along a street, with mental images of entertaining chaos, and then after a few days away from my big pink book had forgotten all about it. But at a different moment in the story it still may be handy.

What eventually worked was thinking around the characters, reviewing in my head what we know so far about each of them and their motivations and individual stories, BUT instead of doing that ‘straight’, doing it via T. He did the thoughts about them, and i wrote down what he was thinking. It combined getting me back into that world, and his head, with reminding myself what was going on (in a way that reading my notes or summary doesn’t do) and also, of course, getting me back into the pen-in-hand habit.

None of it will stay, i should think, but the bold cuts are not for Draft One. That’s why i typed it all, too – trying to stay out of edit mode for the time being.

And that’s why i didn’t do anything about the writing itself, which appalled me. (Quite apart from the handwriting, which almost defeated me.) Repetitious, inevitably since i wasn’t focused, but also long-winded, full of dreadful grammar, terrible phrasing, and inconsistencies; stylistically clunky… just as my conversation when i’m tired goes round in circles and takes five sentences to explain something that would have taken one if i’d been about to remember the right word. I was aware that it was drivel while i wrote it, but ploughed on, and it’s even worse when looked at from the ‘outside’. And i don’t care, cos i can rewrite the bits where something happens that’s worth keeping, and scrap all the rest. It’s ALL first draft, so i’m still including it in my word count!

Not such a brief update after all. No time to make it shorter!

Can you feel the relief? It may last me the whole weekend. 🙂

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!