Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Writing again

I'm back to writing, this time from the plan. It's been a difficult week. The anniversary of my daughter's death was this weekend, made more dreary even than usual by the relentless pain in my back, which is getting slowly worse, if anything. My niece was born the same year as
Léonie, and I've just found out she's expecting her first baby. I haven't just missed all of
Léonie's life, but my potential grandchildren as well. Ouch. Bereavement just keeps stinging.

Anyway, whinge over. I'm very attached to my old words, even though I know they aren't good enough. So I'm rewriting from the plan, to iron out some of the plot tangles I've got into. It takes a while to detach from the old words (so many of them!) but it doesn't take that long to rewrite, now I'm actually doing it, and I know who everyone is and what really happens. Then I can write the missing ten or so chapters to complete the book. That will be a relief, as much as anything.  

Tuesday, 16 August 2011


I worked very hard today on planning, with a large bit of paper and actual pens. And (finally) I plotted the whole thing! Interestingly, a couple of scenes I loved have found there way back in having been excluded before. And the missing middle scenes, all 12 of them, make sense now. I've just got a bit of historical plot to do and I'm sorted! This all came from a post by Glynis Smy (thanks, Glynis!) and the frustration of watching my kids decorate because I can't with a bad back.    

This is my rambling plot. 39 chapters and 97 scenes that make sense, have some sort of logical sequence.

And this is a gratuitous fish shot. Sorry about that.

Monday, 15 August 2011

Unplanned (600)

Back to my old hassle of having no plan to work to. I've taken advice and I'm analysing what I have written and am looking at how to get from the beginning to the end. It's slow work, mostly because I hate doing it and I'm not really sure what I'm doing. Throw in a bad back and a house covered with dust sheets, and the distractions outweigh the motivation. There are 6 more weeks to the deadline for the Mslexia competition which I really want to go in for, and you have to have a whole novel to go in for it. I have turned up a lot of dead ends and also opportunities to develop the characters.

I still have a perennial problem - who am I writing for? If it's an adult audience, great, but it's got a strong magical element and perhaps that's more suited to a younger or crossover audience. In which case, making the teenage protagonist more prominent might be a better idea. I don't know, I read crossover fiction all the time! I'll just keep writing and see what happens... 

Saturday, 13 August 2011

Chaos at our house! (600)

I didn't manage to write yesterday at all - but I had a good excuse because all the floors were up and I couldn't get to the computer! Having mostly sorted out the front room, we've spread our anti-woodworm zeal into the hall and dining room.

This is our crazy cat searching for rodents - she could get right under all the ground floor boards, hopefully her scent will put the rats off. We did have rats when we moved in four years ago but we discouraged them and haven't had any since, but we do occasionally get mice. It doesn't help that the cats occasionally catch them outside, brings them in and let them go, so we have a net increase in pests. Great going, ladies.

We took up wormy boards and replaced them with less wormy boards from the dining room, most of which were in good shape.

This is Matt painting woodworm killer all over the joists. I think both he and Kez were a bit silly on the fumes, personally. they kept breaking into song, mostly a song called 'I believe I can fly' by R Kelly but also 'I've got a lovely bunch of coconuts'. I had no idea my future son-in-law can sing so loud. In fact, I had no idea anyone could sing louder than Kez, and the two of them were deafening. I literally laughed until I cried. Well done, lads.
Then they started patching the dining room floor, so we'll be able to decorate and hopefully, get the carpet fitted.

Meanwhile, back at the literary coal face - my heroine is wrestling with the revelation of what she is. And trying to hang on to her humanity. Heavy stuff, when you're trying to choose paint colours.

(Farrow and Ball Breakfast Room Green and Dix Blue, are front runners, for the interested. Green in the front room, blue in the dining room.) 

Thursday, 11 August 2011

Writing endings (1000)

Despite the distraction of hydrotherapy and the visit from a builder to mend some joists under our wormy, tatty old hall floor, I managed to write some words. It's strange that writing the ending is throwing up all sorts of ideas about what seeds need to be planted in the middle of the book. As Candy Gourlay said when she visited the university, a book is made up of set-ups and reveals. I'm finding the reveals, and need to make sure the set-ups are robust enough to carry the story. 

It seemed that somewhere in the big final battle my hero turned into a force which might be dangerous! Now I have to work out how that happened...

On the home front, I am playing with paint samples and lining paper while boys sweat and swear and relocate floorboards from the dining room to the hall, and patch the donor floor with new boards or recycled hall floors. I love having five men in the family - occasionally. Although, I am sad to report that in pursuit of the ultimate toilet humour, they have installed a journal and pen in the upstairs bathroom, to keep a log - pun intended - of toilet events.  

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Found my horse! (the one I fell off...) (1300)

Being a bit blocked (a bit - ha!) I gave up on the point at which I had faltered and went back to write a 2-3 sentence summary for each scene. That spurred on a violent scene for the big finale and then the fall out. I can connect this to the final chapters which are already drafted in very loose form. It was really good fun to be back writing and feel that satisfying compulsion. The urge to write comes and goes, sometimes I have to do lots of exercises to engage back with the writing, other times it drags me to the computer no matter how painful my back and my fingers take on a  life of their own as the story runs through my head. I literally hear voices...you can probably get tablets for that.

Tuesday, 9 August 2011

Distractions (0,0,0,0,0,0)

I'm presently using doing up the house and family visits as a distraction from my back and the actual writing of the book! I have to get back to it tomorrow, having looked at the first draft of the contemporary strand. There, I've said it. I will write at least 500 words tomorrow on the book, even if my back is bad, even if we move more stuff around. My back was so bad I had to miss hydrotherapy which was a nuisance. I suppose I'm just scared to take up the book again and not know what to do next.

Meanwhile, the dining room is next to get a makeover and most of the floorboards need to come up again to patch up the floor in the hall. That means moving more books - millions of them... it's fun to put into practice plans we've been talking about for four years but the chaos is a bit stressful after the first few days!  

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

Writing through the pain but A363 triumph. (0)

I've come back to writing though the pain is much worse, I literally couldn't sit still long enough to type yesterday. But my A363 result (87% for EMA and distinction overall) gives me a fantastic boost so I'm encouraged to keep writing. My tutor cheered me on this morning, thanks Morgaine!

Back to Jack. I've been reading again (I seem to either write or read but I should do both - reading improves my writing). The Legacy by Katherine Webb. I have no idea if this is a 'good' book in literary terms but I'm enjoying it and it's held my interest from the get-go. It was developed on the Arts Council Website You Write On and this is what Webb wrote:

“It's taken ten years and seven completed novels, but, thanks to YouWriteOn, I have just signed a two book deal with Orion!” Katherine Webb, The Legacy, YouWriteOn Book of the Year Award Winner, published in 2010

It handles the past story and a contemporary strand, which seem related, just like Borrowed Time, so I thought I would give it a go. You Write On is free to use and although you have to be discriminating about the feedback - some critiques are much more knowledgeable than others - you are showing excerpts of your work to readers and hearing what they got off the page. Helpful stuff.  

It's also time to back my files up - I always forget when I lose momentum in my writing. At the very least I need to email it to myself.   

Meanwhile, the decorating proceeds without any input from me (except technical advice - mostly confined to pointing out that the black handled brushes shed badly and lots of praise). Sophie (BSc Hons Psychology - still very proud!) is varnishing like a professional and the floor looks great in the front room. This means the five million dispossessed books now residing in boxes all over the house can soon go back.