Thursday, 28 February 2013

What have I been doing?!

I finally feel up to posting again. I’m not totally out of the woods yet but I’m getting there. Things are beginning to look up and I’ve got some of my old drive back.
With this in mind I thought I’d fill you in on a few of my projects and how they’re coming along.
First up;

Darkling Watch

I was sat the other day, slowly working through the first chapter of Darkling Watch (printed off and steadily being covered in highlights and scribbles) when I came to a realisation. I need to rewrite it. All three books.

I always knew that I would need to do some extensive editing when I finally got around to it but as I thought it over I saw the truth. I’d been putting off and putting off doing the edits or simply going over the same parts again and again. I gave a quick read-through of the story and finally it clicked. I knew why I’d been procrastinating on doing those edits. I wasn’t happy with it. Not in the slightest. Sure there were some parts; a paragraph here, a scene there; that I was in love with. Parts that, as I’d written them the words had just flowed and poured onto the page. Those parts were few and far between though.

It’s not the writing that I’m unhappy with. The writing is, for the most part, alright. It’s the content, the story, the plot. It’s barely there. I know what I want to the plot to be and sometimes it does poke through. Most of the time though it’s hidden by the scenes that I WANTED to write, scenes that I saw clear as day in my brain and more than likely were reflecting things that I wished I was doing at the time. These scenes that I had written aren’t what is need for the story to move onwards. They didn’t do anything, show anything or even pull the reader in (all things that most scenes are meant to do but more on that another day). Yes, Darkling Watch had character development, but barely, it was hidden amongst the fluff, teenage relationship angst (between a woman in her late twenties and a centuries old shape-shifter may I just add, yet something else that needs work) and ‘witty’ dialogue. The character development and the plot and all those other things that make a good story needed to be yanked out, prised from the grips of the rest of the word vomit and cleaned off.

I know why these problems came about though. The story was only beginning to form in my mind when I began to write it. I’d just discovered NaNoWriMo, just over a week before it was due to start and I had no idea what I was doing. I got my basic idea, did a ridiculously vague outline and then just went with it from there. I tried to write as much as I could, more than other people in my area were writing and I cared little for the quality of what I was writing. As a result Darkling Watch is very much a NaNoWriMo novel; huge, vague, sprawling and disorganised. I focused on the word count, rather than the story. It’s poorly planned and poorly executed and there’s very little I can do to save it in its current incarnation.

So I’m scrapping it. I’m pulling out the bits I like, the scenes relevant to the plot or some good characterisation and saving them somewhere nice. The rest I’m putting into a folder in my Dropbox account where it will stay forever or until I decide that ‘yes, actually, I can delete this awful festering turd of a manuscript’ and hit that button. I plan on starting from the very beginning of the whole process; planning and plotting everything. I want to track my character development, the main plot, and the sub-plots. I might even find that fabled theme and message in there. I don’t know. All I know is that come tomorrow Darkling Watch will be torn to the ground and rebuilding will begin.

The Web-comic

No, it still doesn’t have a name. My characters don’t have names. My world doesn’t have a name. It’s just a big nameless mass. And yet...
There are things coming together. I’ve been doing reference sketches from comics that I find with an interesting art style. The images of some of my characters are slowly building up. The plotlines are growing within my mind. I even see, now and then, how a particular scene might be drawn. Hell I’ve got a theme and everything.

The way it’s all happening in my head is strange though. I’m seeing bits and pieces and they’re piling on top of each other, slowly melding together into one form. The excitement is all there, I want to work on it. But it’s a new kind of excitement. It’s not pushing me to dive right in, to start churning out pages and pages of comics that I grow to hate and will eventually throw away. Instead I feel like I’m being encouraged to take my time, to make sure I’m mostly satisfied with each thing before moving on to the next. I say mostly because creative things are never truly finished, sometimes we just have to say ‘enough’ and step back. I’m not focused on what I want the comic to be in the same way that I did when Project Labolai was a web-comic. Instead I’m focusing on making the comic the best it can be NOW, using the idea and momentum to create a story and characters that I can be proud of.

I don’t know when the comic will be released online. I’ll be sure to mention when it is though. For now I’m just going with my imagination and slowly creating it how I want it to be. In the meantime I might experiment with my comicking, draw a few practice pages, write a few practice scripts, just to get in a comicking groove and so that when it comes to doing the real thing I know what I want to do and how I want to do it.


One thing that many of us writer-types sometimes let fall by the wayside is our health. We spend so many hours sitting at our computers or bent over our paper just telling our story. We get so embroiled in these worlds we’ve created, manipulating these characters that are almost like children to us, that we forget that we’re actually real people. We give our characters and our plot lines more polish and care than we even think about giving ourselves sometimes.

At the beginning of the year I made several resolutions regarding my health. I said I would quit smoking. I said I would start going to the gym more and get in shape. People didn’t think I would do it. They didn’t believe in me.

I’ve now been cigarette-free for almost two months. I’ve been going to the gym roughly three times a week for the last month (apart from last week when I sproinged my ankle [and yes that’s a real word now, I say so]). I haven’t felt this good in years. I’m getting slimmer, I’m saving money and I can finally taste stuff again.
I do miss smoking now and then. Usually when I’m bored or stressed about something one of the family-members is doing to wind me up. Mostly it’s when I’m on a night out and I’ve had a bit to drink. For me cigarettes were part of a night out. Thankfully my nights out are few and far between and the temptation, when it does appear, is surprisingly easy to fight.

Overall I can say that this particular project is going wonderfully well. Sooner or later, possibly after a few more months of going to the gym regularly, I’m going to need to buy new clothes. I’m getting excited about it already. Sure it will be a hard hit to my already meagre funds but it will just show how much hard work I’ve been doing.

Besides, in the case of the inevitable zombie apocalypse it means I may actually survive. After all...
You don’t have to outrun the zombies; you just have to outrun other people.

Monday, 11 February 2013

An Apology

Firstly I would like to apologise for my lengthy internet silence. I had my posts planned, I’d begun to write them in my head but then life got in the way. 

For the last few weeks, probably the last few months if I’m really honest, it’s felt like I’m living under a big dark cloud. A dark cloud that’s gradually been pushing me further and further down, sucking away all the enjoyment I can find from things like writing or drawing. I went to the doctor about it recently when I realised that this wasn’t going away, it was getting much worse and it was actually really starting to ruin my life. Turns out it was actually a big deal, how I was feeling. I’m not going to go into that though.

I’m not saying sorry for the fact that I stopped posting. That break from interaction with readers and the blog has given me some much needed perspective. What I am sorry for is going completely quiet. I didn’t write anything about feeling down or the dark cloud and I definitely didn’t give you any warning that I would stop posting. It’s that which I’m apologising for. I feel like I owe you the apology for just disappearing and an explanation for my absence. Unfortunately I don’t feel strong enough to properly explain it all yet, partially because I’ve not fully wrapped my head around it.

I will say this though. Some of the problems I’ve been dealing weren’t made any better by these self-imposed deadlines and tasks that I was setting. In fact they were probably making it much much worse.
I’ve relaxed all my goals, shifted my life around a little bit and slowly but surely the big dark cloud is lifting. I’m finding enjoyment in writing again, and editing and I’m working on a couple of new projects as well as the old ones. I will be resuming posting again starting this week but, unlike before, there will not be a set schedule and I have no specific plans to write certain posts for certain dates. I’m hopeful for what the rest of this month and this year will bring.

Will there be bad days in the future? Most definitely.

Will I ever actually properly explain what’s going on in my head? Who knows, my mind is a dark and twisty place.

Will I try and keep you posted should I go off the grid again? Yes, I will try as hard as I can.

For now though I’m focusing on feeling better, writing and editing and trying to find a job. No deadlines, no daily to-do lists, just long term goals and the occasional reward when I’ve worked hard.