Saturday, 31 December 2011

New Year's Resolutions, ROW80, and Kindles

So it’s New Year’s Eve and the year will turn over to 2012 in a little under 4 hours. For the last month or so I’ve been busy with my temporary work contract and have very sadly neglected this blog. With the new year though I figured that I’d sort out this grave error and let you know what has been going on in my life.
To be frank I’ve spent most of this month in a creative rut. I’ve had a few sparks of inspiration now and then but I’ve completely lacked any actual drive to write or create anything. This has all changed in the last few days with the advent of Christmas and the end of my contract pulling into sight. I’m bubbling with ideas and thoughts, all of them brewing in my mind and slowly forming into one plot. Once my temporary contract is up I’m planning to get as many of these down as I can.

Now though I turn onto my New Year’s Resolutions. I have several resolutions, some that are easily measurable, others are a bit more vague and simply end results or basic ideas.
  • ·         Learn French
  • ·         Quit smoking
  • ·         Return to my size 10/12 shape
  • ·         Finish NaNo novel and edit.
  • ·         Plot and possible start three more novels
  • ·         Learn to drive
  • ·         Restart Witchan with a 10 page buffer.
  • ·         Decide on an alternative career path
  • ·         Make three queries regarding my novel a month.
  • ·         Read 200 new books
Simple really. Some of these things are linked together obviously while others are a bit more individual and stand alone. When I think back to this time last year I remember how little idea I had of where my life was going. I didn’t have a clue about what I wanted to do with my life or anything. I still don’t. I figure that if you pretend to know what you want eventually you’ll begin to believe you know what you want. So that’s what I’m going to do. I know some things that I want so I’m going from there and hope that eventually I’ll figure out the rest. 

I have signed up for another writing thing, something called A Round Of Words in 80 Days. It’s a new writing challenge I stumbled across that is designed for people with hectic lives and lets you set your own goals to reach in 80 days. I’ve got to set my own goals for the first round which begins on Monday. I’ve not got many thoughts, having only just signed up but my first thoughts for goals are
  • ·         Write 500 words a day for the NaNo novel.
  • ·         Create one art piece a week.
  • ·         Preliminary planning for one new novel.
These goals are more short term than my New Year’s Resolution and more measurable. Hopefully they’ll continue to give me the creative push I need for a shorter amount of time throughout the year.

Finally. I have gotten a Kindle. I read so much that my dad has decided it’d be cheaper and take less room to have my books digitally than it would to have them in print. I’ve already got many books on it, in a variety of genres, and I am adding more, pretty much every time I finish a new one. I stumbled across an amazing series, written by a woman called Mira Grant. It’s known as the Newsflesh Trilogy. I have found it incredibly interesting and I’m eagerly waiting for the third in the series which is due out in May. There are constantly twists and turns that constantly surprise me. It’s a series based in both the political intrigue genre and the zombie genre. I know, I know, I love me some zombies. Newsflesh is different from most of the zombie novels I read. Grant doesn’t focus as much on the actual outbreak and how it takes over the world, she leaves that to the short stories that are due out soon. Mostly she focuses on after and the zombies aren’t as important, they’re simply a tool of the political plots and an obstacle for the protagonists to overcome. I can’t really talk about the trilogy much more, not without ruining the plot for anyone who’s not read it and not until I’ve finished reading it. Once I’ve managed to get hold of and finish the last book I may well put up a review. Here’s hoping.

Well, my darling readers, I look forward to telling you all about my creative endeavours come the New Year and hopefully I’ll be able to keep to my resolutions. What are your resolutions? Do you think I’ll be able to keep mine?

Of course, Happy New Year!!

Monday, 5 December 2011

The End of NaNoWriMo and Amsterdam.

So NaNoWriMo is now over. It was a fantastic month and I learned so much about how I write and what I want from my life. It’s helped me to realise that I do really want to become a professional writer. I still haven’t finished my novel but there’s more than I’ve ever written before. For that I am glad and hope to finish the novel before the New Year. I’m definitely going to try at least...
                I’m all ready to sign up next year and I am also seriously considering signing up for ScriptFrenzy. In fact my NaNoWriMo username means that I’m able to take part already and I’m already thinking hard about what to work on for it. It’s a month of script-writing. I could work on the Witchan web-comic script or even a short story script for a short web-comic. Either way it’s do-able. The great thing is that the weekly meetings also return during those months so I’ll get the spurring on that I need. There’s also NaNoMangO in June or November which gives the opportunity to draw the pages for April’s scripts. While there’s always the chance that my life could take another direction at any point between these dates, I’m putting them in my diary come January 1st and really hope to take part in them. I’ll probably explain about these in the New Year.

                I had a very lovely weekend since Friday afternoon. I took a trip to Amsterdam, partially as an early Christmas present from my mum and also partially as a reward for finishing NaNoWriMo. It truly is a beautiful city and I have several plans in the future to visit it again. I’m even considering getting a TEFL certificate and heading there to teach English for a while. A TEFL qualification would more than likely give me the opportunity to travel to all those places that I want to go to, whether it’s Romania or the USA or Paris. A TEFL qualification will give me the option of going to all those places and earn a wage while I see the sights. But back to Amsterdam...
                There is much more to the city than just the ‘coffee shops’ and the red light district. It’s a beautiful city full of amazing buildings and a rich history. I just felt so inspired walking around, I barely did any shopping, even when we did actually accidentally find the red light district. For some odd reason myself and my mum kept stumbling on the more local Dutch bars when we went somewhere for a drink but they were absolutely lovely. The canals... wow! That’s really all I can say about them. Even the quiet ones where there was very little traffic were still gorgeous. Many house were built right up against the banks of the canals and they were so high with beautiful windows and facades. It’s on my list of places to go back to, eventually.
                The crossing however was not that nice. On the way there I’d been drinking a fair bit and the cross winds across the North Sea were sending the ferry bouncing around horribly. That did not end well the next morning when my hangover hit. Thankfully we docked shortly after and were off to Amsterdam within an hour. Walking around the city helped me feel much much better as well as the delicious Argentinean food that we were able to find. I realised that getting up and eating slightly really does help a hangover rather than sitting around feeling sorry for youself.

                Well that’s it for tonight, I’ll probably be returning to regular topics next week, in the meantime, have fun and keep writing even though NaNo’s over.

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Day 15 of NaNoWriMo. In which I realise a few important facts.

Firstly I would like to apologise for the length of today’s post. I got carried away writing it.

It’s day 15, the 15th of Novemeber and we are officially halfway through NaNo.
The word-count for today was suggested to be 25,000. ... I hit 60,000 words a short while ago. Apparently I’m an over-achiever which is aided in no short order by my unemployment and poor social life. I’m pleased though although some odd things have been happening. I jotted them down in my writing journal and here is an interesting excerpt:

Thursday 10th November : 6,529 words in Day 10
I was writing earlier, slightly exhausted but writing none the less. I managed to hit over 5,000 words in a day and if I hadn’t been so tired I probably would have written more. The thing is... in my semi-exhausted state I seem to have added some extra bad-guys. It wouldn’t be so bad but I don’t know who the hell they are! This apparently is common of the Week Two in NaNo. You either lose all interest and your novel away forever or you toss in a plot twist, even if it is unintentional.
                My plot is twisty enough without extra characters and bad guys appearing but my brain is demanding them. I foresee a weekend consisting of mapping out my plot twists, figuring out who the hell these bad guys are and even more writing.

I never did get the weekend of mapping started, let alone finished but I did get some writing done. I managed to hit 50,000 words the next night which seemed to befuddle my regional meet group (that was an amusing day). It also just goes to show though that no matter how much planning I do, characters will at some point take over.

It happened again last night as I was reaching desperately for 60k. I’d reached the end of my detailed planning but REALLY didn’t want to stop writing mid-flow to plan in detail some more. So I did what any self-respecting aspiring author would do. I carried on. I’d just reached a very relaxed, semi-irrelevant part of the narrative which was focusing on one of my numerous sub-plots, meandering along and letting the plot carry on as a chick-lit for a while. Then ‘BAM!’ an unexpected part of the main plotline just slammed itself (or herself as the case became) into the story. It has turned into one of those completely unexpected things that happens when you through aside your carefully constructed plans and wing it. Never in months of plotting could I have come up with that twist. It just kept unravelling and unravelling and more twists came. The character is now related to the major plot theme and the villain of the novel AND she’s involved in the romance sub-plot as part of my Male Main Character’s past(which is rather long). That was in only 3,000 words as well. Very exciting stuff when you think about it.

            NaNoWriMo is helping me to realise a few things about the way that I work best when writing and about the writing process in general.
            First is the fact that what you produce in November IS a first draft. You’re trying to get words on a page, as you think them up. They’re not meant to be finely honed works of art and they won’t be. They’ll be rambling patches of thought tangled into one long narrative. You’ll have mistakes, you’ll have random bits of stuff that won’t make sense and will later get cut. You’ll also have gems, patches of writing whether they’re description, dialogue or just babbling, that are so amazing you wonder where the hell they came from, that an hour of careful sentence construction could never hope to replicate.
          That’s all ok though. It’s a first draft. Things you hate can be removed later, parts you love can be kept and expanded. That long rambling monologue you have that is a paragraph all on its own because you started to have a thought, began to write it, lost it and carried on writing anyway until you found a new thought but still ultimately went nowhere? That can be sorted out, possibly separated, even removed all together (see what I did there?!).  That’s what the editing process is there for. I embrace editing. I even do it for this blog now.
Writing is like thinking and interacting with people. The first draft is your initial thought, like wanting to say ‘your hat looks stupid’ or ‘I want to lick your face’. It’s the ID portion of the process. Editting is like the Ego, it stops you from just blurting out those things. Editting refines your novel, poem or whatever creative piece you’re working on. It takes the aweful things away and leaves all the nice, socially acceptable pieces.
            Secondly it’s taught me a lot about how and when I like to write. I like to use my laptop. I like to write in the evenings until after midnight when the house is quiet and I’m free of distractions. Unexpectedly I discovered that my most productive place to write was not, as I believed, on my desk in my room (actually a set of plastic drawers covered by pretty scarves from Primark) but at the kitchen table, on the computer chair I drag daily from the living room (a whole 20 foot away). That was surprising. I also discovered that I do not in fact write well with iTunes playing in the background as I thought, I in fact like to have Capital FM on, even if it does play the same songs over and over. It’s less distracting as I have no control over what plays next and so cannot distract myself fiddling with it.

Clearly NaNoWriMo has taught me more in two weeks then three years of a Creative Writing course at uni ever could. Makes me wish I’d just done straight up English Lit. Either way...
NaNoWriMo, I salute you.

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

NaNoWriMo, Day Nine

                NaNoWriMo is now in full swing. It’s day 9 and my intent to blog every single day during NaNo has gone completely down the drain... oopsie o.0 But I’m here now and ready to fill you in on my fun adventures of NaNoWriMo for the last 9 days while I take a small break from actual writing.

                Amazingly I am well ahead of the suggested word count. Using some very complicated maths (read common sense) the creators of NaNoWriMo figured out that the participants need to write 1,667 words a day to hit the 50,000 word goal. The suggested amount for today, Day 9 is 15,000. I am on 41,742. Clearly I’m working well beyond the predicted amount a day. It probably helps that I have no job and very little by way of a social life. I have been writing every day though, getting used to my characters and each day I find myself writing more and more. It’s been taking me less and less time to warm up and getting into the writing groove as I call it. Although there are a few flaws and small holes in what I’m writing I realise it’s just a first draft and many of these things can be easily fixed when I go to edit.

                Distressingly though my characters keep hijacking the story. It’s supposed to be a supernatural thriller. Instead my main characters (commonly called MCs in the forums) have taken over and turned the story into a chick lit romance that just happens to have vampires and werewolves and other supernatural creatures. I’ve shrugged my shoulders and decided to just try and gently steer them back in the right direction. If I try and force them back on track there’s a strong chance that they could screech to a halt and refuse to play. What makes me laugh the most about the whole situation is that I never used to believe that characters could take over. I just figured that this was just crazy writers speaking who took themselves too seriously. In this case I’m glad I was wrong. It really does happen that you want the story to go one way and then your characters take an idea and run off with it in an opposite direction then you intended. More and more, especially in the last few days, I’ve found myself yelling at my computer and my characters to stop it and do as I say. It’s gotten so bad that a member of the regional chat-room (a happy advantage of NaNoWriMo) sent me a link to an image that he says basically sums me up right now... it’s now my desktop background.

                The chat-rooms are another good part of NaNo, participants are split into regions, based on the area they leave and many of them have chat-rooms. In the Notts NaNoers chatroom I’ve made some pretty good friends (at least I like to think so) that I see once a week in an actual pub. We talk, we eat and we generally relax and unwind (often hitting each other with wooden spoons for misbehaviour). I’ve been to two meetings so far and the group members only seem to be getting crazier. I feel right at home. Happily these meetings continue throughout the year although it changes to just once a month after November. I’ll be sad to see an end to the weekly meetings as I have so much fun at them, often staying much longer then I intend to. My parents are just glad I’m out the house.

                Hopefully I’ll have another update for you soon. In the mean time, you other NaNo-ers out there: Have fun and Happy Writings!

Thursday, 3 November 2011

NaNoWriMo, Day Three

So NaNoWriMo has hit its third day, at least for most countries east of the UK. I have, rather surprisingly, reached 10,000 words already. I was shocked to be honest when by the end of the first day I’d managed to hit 5,000 and then when yesterday rolled around and I finally finished my writing for the day I saw I’d reached 10,000 words! If I can keep writing at this rate I should hopefully hit the word count by the 10th of November. Not too shabby if I do say so myself. I want to hit higher than the 50,000 word goal of NaNo though and actually finish my novel. That could mean that I am, finally, able to submit a novel for publication. 

That is my main goal in life, to be published. I’m willing to work jobs that don’t really have anywhere to progress to so that I have enough time to write and create. I don’t know if I’m good enough to become a writer, all I know is that I have enough ideas that need working on to keep editors busy for years. I can see how what I’m writing now can progress into a seies, full of characters and reality clashing with the supernatural. My only real problem in writing novels is that I’ve never actually gotten around to finishing one. Hopefully NaNo may change all that.

I keep hearing all these horror stories about it though. I suppose most of them come from people who are juggling other things such as children, work and university rather than an unemployed layabout like me. I am doing daily chores for my mother before I start writing though so it’s not as though I’m spending my days sat on my backside watching Jeremy Kyle and writing.

Friday, 28 October 2011

Regular broadcasts on hold

    So, I know it’s supposed to be a Friday Links post today but sadly I can’t do it. For the last week I’ve been super busy trying to get work done for NaNoWriMo, both on the real life stuff that is going to crop up and on the novel outline itself. Ergo – no linkage due to lack of internet stalking (<-- How I normally get my links).

    Throughout November I’m going to be putting the regular posts on hold. I will still be blogging but it’ll mostly be about NaNo and the fact I want to burn my computer. At least if some of the stories I’ve heard are true anyway. As it is right now I have little to tell you about NaNo. Well ok there is a little bit :P ...
    I’ve found an awesome new way of outlining called phase outlines. Essentially you break up a scene into all its little moments in a way and write 30 to 40 words briefly explaining these moments. Once you’re actually writing you can expand these into 100-200 word bursts, maybe more. I’m finding it useful because it’s helping me to see where I’m going with the story, from A to C while including B, if I can’t get from one scene to the next, especially in the brief and vague phases then I won’t be able to write it (which means more planning for me), as a result I know I need to change something further back before it’s too late. I’m only about 1/5 of the way through my outline right now but I’ve yet to have any issues. I also get ideas for short moments in between each scene that I can put in as I write (mostly that’s my characters taking over and demanding moments that I’m not sure work, we’ll see). I found out about the phase outline through a link on NaNo, maybe some point soon I’ll be able to find it and post a link (connection’s too shaky right now).

Anyhoo. Catchya later peeps!