Right Now

For Short Story Month, I’m writing three separate pieces with a single theme. It is time to admit we’re moving into a science fiction phase: I’ve always been a bit of an alternate history girl, when all is said and done. This triumvirate of stories all offer divergent timelines to the one you’ll be used to, with the possible consequences of women meddling in the affairs of nature:

All these stories have female protagonists. They could be written as men if I chose, but I’d like to believe that it is not just them sending this Planet to destruction. Everybody has their culpability in a massive ecological and sociological mess to shoulder. The subjects of the stories are, in order of the images shown: alien invasion, genetic manipulation and time travel. Occam’s Taser is the result of a conversation had several years ago with my friend Steve (who’s a morning US Television producer) about Vienna in 1913… and that’s all I’m prepared to offer.

The plan initially was to use one of these stories to enter in a Short Story Contest later in the year but instead, the project’s a platform to get my word count and writing style refined, before I work on two separate pieces for entry. This is being handled in tandem with editing my novel, which is finally in what could be considered a complete state. Today, that will be read completely and edited as that happens. I hope to have the first of these short stories available to read by this time next week, with them all finished by the end of the month.

Finally

At 5.30pm on Friday, March 30th, I was confident enough to make this claim:

When I stopped this afternoon, after removing everybody else from the house so I could concentrate, this is where things stand:

The last 40 pages are rough, but the narrative is complete. I’m going to spend Saturday night going through this to fill in the gaps and create a more consistent foundation. Then, it’s being left well alone until next week, where I’ll go back to the start and do a full edit pass. After THAT it’ll get sent to those people who’ve expressed an interest in reading it. So, if you happen to be reading this and haven’t made noises yet about wanting to help me out, shove a message in the comments.

Once other people have passed some initial comments, we can start thinking about how the damn thing gets published.

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I have zero idea how to formally approach a publisher: there’s no point in lying, and I totally understand just what a ridiculously cutthroat market I’m about to enter into. I am nobody, and this concept has to sell itself. Part of me is tempted to blog the process for the hell of it because I suspect it might make interesting reading. For now, however, this needs to be the best thing it can be before any form of selling takes place. I’ve got some books to read, and people on my feed I can ask. It’s not like I’m COMPLETELY dumb.

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Mostly, I am happy it’s done. It isn’t hyperbole: I have files with timestamps which date the original manuscript to 2001. It’s lasted longer than nearly half a dozen PCs and Macintoshes. My daughter’s been born, grown up, and is now at Secondary School in the time this has taken to complete. I’ve had major surgery. Friends have passed away.

Considering the narrative has time at its base, this all seems rather appropriate.

Run for Home

For as many days as it has been possible this week, I’ve dragged myself into the Gym. Amazingly, only on two days has this been about exercise to a point. On the others, I’m there to use the treadmill as a writing tool. 

This is probably going to require some explanation.

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Once upon a time, I’d have real trouble trying to work out how ideas would develop past that first massive burst of creativity. I then developed a means by which I’d use pieces of music effectively as the backgrounds for ‘narrative videos’ that would run in my head, roughly corresponding with the pace and timing of actions that would then be written down. It is the reason why that whenever I now hear ‘Whoops, I Did It Again’ by Britney Spears I don’t think about the music video that accompanies it, but my fanfic-created Bond heroine Ronni Flemmings bursting out of a control room using a chair as a shield and summarily killing Ernst Stavro Blofeld completely by accident.

I’ve ruined a lot of pieces of music this way, but the destruction of meaning is always worthwhile.

Before I got as serious about exercise as I have now become, being on a treadmill with a musical soundtrack used to be the means by which I’d sort out the kinks and holes in narratives. Returning to my novel over this last six weeks has made me grasp that there was no longer the time to do this: suddenly, whenever I’m doing physical stuff it is to meet a target or complete an objective. The simpler days of just walking and thinking have somehow gone amiss. Therefore this week, re-instigating the treadmill as a writing tool required a massive twenty-five track playlist, constructed in chronological order to match my action. Most significantly, none of the music must have been made after 2005.

On Tuesday I went into the Gym, plugged myself in and thirty minutes later had managed to solve three major issues that were holding me back in plot terms. Today, the last quarter of the book is blocked, with each major sequence ready to write. There’s also been a piece of music added, that forms a vital part of the late narrative, section I’ve been frightened to write for over a decade because of the intensely personal nature of the content. It is the means by which I tie past back to present, and remind the female protagonist of the life she once knew but has lost contact with. This track was the crack which burst the dam of writer’s block, once and for all, and I’ve not been able to stop writing since.

Every writer is different: how you maintain focus and drive as individual as eye colour or shoe size. For me, music is at the heart and soul of every piece written. Without it, I would be considerably less than a whole.

I predict a considerable amount of treadmill in my future.

The Last Time

As we head towards the end of the month, things have (on reflection) gone remarkably well. Next month is already well in hand, and there are plans on the table for April too.  However, it is becoming apparent that after yesterday’s post on the Novel, and some quite serious poking of said manuscript both Thursday and today, it won’t be finished by the end of February. In fact, if truth be told, it won’t be anywhere close to being done.

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Rather reassuringly, it has nothing to do with me giving up and losing interest: in fact, quite the opposite is true. What I’ve now discovered is that what was the middle third of the action does not have nearly as much solidity and structure as was first believed. This means that I’m now laying down foundations instead of finishing decoration and placing furniture. As a result, my rather optimistic ‘yeah we can do this in four weeks’ now looks like a complete pack of lies.

It also means that pitching a work that’s not done seems a bit fraudulent, to be honest. So, I think we’ll pass on this one, make this work really solid and special, and then I can read the book I got on how to publish shiz and work from there. Right now, all that matters is to finish something. That’s the goal not yet achieved, the prize that matters personally more than anything else, and with a head full of fuzz as has been the case for the best part of a week thanks to menopausal hormone overload? That really will be an achievement.

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So, next week’s WiP Day will be to get me to 80k with some actual structure. I’m working on the foundations until then. I’ve even altered the counter because honestly, it has to be done. I’m aiming for Easter to get this out to people to read, as in an Alpha Reader kind of way. March 15th is D-Day now, and I’m feeling supremely confident. No really, I am.

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Watch this space. No really, cool stuff is and will happen. There’s no stopping me now 😀

Keep on Running

It is high time we did a NOVEL UPDATE.

As you can see, the words keep going, and as the header shows, we have a NEW COVER for the book. Yesterday, however, during editing, there was a bit of a bump in the road:

The trashing, in the end, has not lost much progress, but I have gone backwards, so the hope today is to work once I’ve written this and then after exercise, and then (again) tonight so when we hit WiP day on Thursday I have a fighting chance of getting well ahead of my goal. Day 15’s plan is 57k but honestly, I need to be closer to 70k if there is any chance of having a successful result. Then I have to be writing a pitch for this thing to see if I have any chance of catching the eye of a publisher.

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What will undoubtedly be a better use of my time is buying the book these guys have written and guaranteeing myself a free one hour pitch, which I’ve now done. However, it will be useful to see if I can do the business without, so I’ll be putting my stuff together at the weekend. Until then, it is time to focus on getting the narrative on a path that seems sensible, sorting out the dialogue, and working to the final word total. Needless to say, I’m still insanely confident this is all gonna get done in the timescale, AND IT IS STILL FUN.

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As long as it stays that way, everything is going to plan…

The No. 1 Song in Heaven

This week has been the most important in some time.

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The last time I edited something this significant it was fanfiction. I’ve never found the means previously to overcome individual inertia and have faith in my own narrative before but here we are, probably about a third of the way through. I might not end up at 120k but it feels that way right now, with absolutely tons of stuff cut away from the original plot. The problem now, however, is we are into the story-light territory which always stopped any real progress.

However, this time around, I know exactly where things need to go.

The soundtrack method, which got me through both Bondfics, has been employed here to stellar effect. It has become the means by which I saturate myself in narrative progression, and therefore don’t panic when a place is reached where it doesn’t exist. It also provides the opportunity for existing narrative structure to evolve, as has been the case over the last couple of days. The pictures in my head now exactly match the words on the page, and that means there is an overriding confidence that this isn’t simply the right path, but the best path.

I’ve reached a significant point in the story today: my protagonist is finally in a position to live alone, without supervision, but is unaware that her life cannot be as easily dictated, especially with the amount of emotional and physical baggage she carries. The next day or so will set up a couple of important set pieces. One has this a-ha song as a background, another is written with Duran Duran as the constant. These songs have absolutely no relevance to the action, in both cases. They are there to make things happen in my head, and it works.

There’s also an important point to make: the World, as you and I know it, ceases to exist in this narrative after 2005. That means all my musical choices are at or before that point, to allow me an additional means of getting inside the head of my protagonist. There’s another twist to this too: all of it is written in the first person, which I have found incredibly difficult to get my head around. However, that issue was addressed midweek and suddenly this seems like the most normal and correct form that’s ever existed. It has to be first person for a very good reason, too, but all that is revealed in time.

For now, I’m having a cuppa, making myself some lunch and then it will be 50k done before I consider stopping again. The chances are there’ll be a lot more words than that, but I’m trying not to let the domestic side of life slip completely into ruin. However, it would not be a lie to state that this is one of the most enjoyable things I have done for many years. The satisfaction gained from it is enormous, and the end result will, I know, be something I am immensely proud of. That’s why I began this journey, after all.

NaNoWriMo :: Day 20

Nanowrimo 2017

This post has taken a week to make it to this space: not because there’s been an issue with keeping to my plan (see the post coming up next) but simply because, yet again, time at the time wasn’t available. This was one of the reasons why NaNo’s failed for the last few years: I’d hit 50k and all impetus/ability to complete the work would vanish. You see, for me, this word count has always been restrictive, and I’ve been unable to pace myself to complete things once I started them.

Fortunately, a lot has changed in the last 12 months.

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So, Day 19 had me at 40k and confident for the first time I could finish when I’d said. Then, came a problem, mistake I realise that had been made back in the narrative at about the 6k mark. I was devastated, because it had effectively ruined a key section of the flow, that quickly stopped me in my tracks. I left the file open on my PC going to bed Sunday night, and had no idea how I’d fix the problem. The solution, at least in my mind, was something that NaNo suggests you don’t do: go back and correct your work. This is supposed to happen in the revision stage, but there was a realisation that if I didn’t plug the hole, all my hard work would simply leak through.

So, today ended up being about going back to the start and retracing steps. Once the issue was addressed, work recommenced at a fairly swift rate and, all things being equal, I would have hit 50k by Wednesday… were my daughter not unwell Monday night. That stopped me originally writing this post at the time, and meant I was up at 5am on Tuesday morning and on a mission… and you can probably guess what happened next. What also transpired between that point and Wednesday (where we’ll pick up the story again) was a realisation that an awful lot needs to change so I can not simply write more fiction, but do so in a far less stressful fashion.

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In this regard at least, NaNo has been an awesome experience. I got over my fear of commitment, and will finally have a work in December to revise next year. That’s a MASSIVE step forward 😀