Saturday 28 May 2011

Day 28

My full-of-good-intentions resolution to submit short stories hasn't got off to a flying start. I was a little disheartened to be not included on three competition short lists this week, which knocked my sense of being able to write anything good ever.

So, I've been concentrating on the novel challenge. After typing The End sometime last week, I printed it out - all 149 pages of it - and have been reading through and scribbling notes all over it. I've added some sections, I've worked out more research that needs to be done, I've rearranged sentences so that they now make sense. I'm going to ban myself from working on the computer until every page has at least one note on it. Then I'll let loose and see how many words I can add.

I've used this method before, but without the willpower of not touching the computer. I've sat down, altered a sentence or two, but then immediately wanted to type it up. Hopefully, the way I'm working through the chapters this time will make a much more fluid read by the end.

A benefit of working on the page is that I can curl up on the settee, music playing in the background - actually, that should read foreground - with a cuppa in my hand, and enjoy the words I've written. It's much more comfortable that sitting at my desk in my cold study, rubbing my hands together to get the circulation flowing again.

Sunday 22 May 2011

Submissions are the logical next step

After reading Jen Campbell's blog  it's occured to me that with all this novel writing malarky - and prior to that, some novellas which took up a lot of time - I've stopped submitting short stories to magazines. I still enter competitions, which - if you win - takes care of actually earning some money, but there was a time when I knew which were the best magazines to submit to, submitted prolifically, and I got a fair number published.

Now, I have no idea.

I think I stopped submitting regularly when every third new website seemed to be a literary journal of sorts. I've never been all that comfortable with online publishing, and it just seemed as though quantity was more important than quality - the choice was overwhelming. I've probably mentioned this aversion before, and I know the reasons seem very lame. The biggest reason is that I'm a set-in-my-ways 30-something, and I like holding magazines and books in my hand. It gives me much greater pleasure to see my name printed on a page than on a screen... because (another lame reason) I can write my own name on a screen!!

Seeing my work laid out on paper, properly type-set, with an illustration or two, just seems proper. But, after reading Jen's post about all the stories she's having published imminently, I feel like I'm being left behind. So, my mission, set in stone here today (albeit a bloggy stone) is to submit work to magazines again.

Now, all I have to do is work out which ones.

Thursday 19 May 2011

About Libraries

I'm currently reading through the novel stuff I've written already, because I had a horrible feeling I was losing the voice.... and I was right, I am. But it should be easily solved.

Anyway, because the writing stalled for a moment, I thought I'd talk about libraries again. If you remember, my last post about libraries was somewhat controversial, not least because I used to work in a library and a lot of the people who read this blog are librarians. I don't remember saying the words 'all libraries should be burnt to the ground and Harry Potter slaughtered', but that's what seemed to be implied.

Well, my local library has now closed one day a week, taking the current opening times to four and a half days a week. I'm fine with this - at least I am when I can get my head around which day it's closed. I'm fine with this because back in the day, it was only ever open for four and a half days a week, and everyone was happy with that.

But - oh, yes, it's a BUT all right - I do object to the plan I read in my local free paper earlier this week. A plan - but hopefully not the plan - is to further reduce my local library hours to fund other, smaller and less patronised libraries further down into Cornwall, to restore their opening hours to what they were before the cuts. Er, why, Mr Cornwall Council Man? Is that not a little unfair? Are we not all in this together?

My guess is that as the library also houses the Cornwall Council One Stop Shop, they're considering reducing the opening hours even further so they don't have to talk to us at all.

Wednesday 11 May 2011

Day 12

Wow - day 12 already, and I'm still - for the most part - managing to write something meaningful every day (apart from today, that is).

My word count currently stands at 16,097! (I feel this should have a drum roll and someone announcing the figures like they do on Comic Relief, but I'll make do with hearing the voices in my head - please feel free to announce this number Comic Relief style too.)

Yesterday evening I hit another wobbly plot problem, so out came my trusty fountain pen. Somehow, writing longhand, with a pen that I love to use, helps the words and ideas flow better than through a keyboard. My wobbly plot problem came from the fact that one of my characters is deeply upset by world news events (all the bad war stuff and climate change - for those who know me.... yes, it's a little bit me, but I'm not going to react the way my character does). And in writing all this in my minamalist style I realised I was missing out a lot, and probably not conveying the true horror my character feels.

So, do I change the style, do I make his problems not quite as bad...?

At the moment, I haven't decided. I cheated, and wrote an entirely different section instead. It made me feel good that I was writing, and made the problem vanish, if only for a little while. I haven't added it to my word count yet, as it's all very scrawly longhand with lots of crossings out.

Today, instead of writing, I had a chat and hot chocolate with a friend, and then went shopping.

Sunday 8 May 2011

Day 8

Phew! I've written 10,122 words in 8 days - and that includes one day where I didn't write a thing.

I'm impressed. You might not be, but that's fine. Unless you're a writer, you won't really give much thought to the number of words you're reading. There's no need for you to know. I, on the other hand, am always trying to estimate the word count of my favourite books, or the books from publishers I want to submit to. I've always been low. 60,000 is the longest a novel of mine has been - and that took a lot of re-writing.

Judging by the plan I'm trying to follow, this novel which is now 10,122 words long may only end up being about 30,000 words. I'm writing it in three parts. The next part will hopefully be slightly longer, but the third part is probably going to be less. As I'm aiming for 80,000 words, I'll either have to do some major additions to the plot or just add some fluffy descriptions - some authors can take 10 pages just to butter toast, or answer the phone (not me, though, I've never been that verbose, and I'm not sure I want to try now).

Apart from word count, I'm quite pleased with the work so far. I solved my wobbly plot problem by adding a new section where a character is watching some depressing news stories, and that tied in nicely and gave him the motive to do what he does next. So I'm back on track and raring to get stuck into the 2nd part.

Wednesday 4 May 2011

Day Four

I thought posting every single day would be a bit boring for you to read. It would be along the lines of: wrote some words, crossed out some words. So I'll do a round up of a few days at a time.

At the end of last night, day 3, I'd written 3492 words in total, so I feel like I'm buzzing along quite nicely. Because I knew about this challenge weeks ago, and couldn't wait to get started, I wrote copious notes and did lots of research. My characters fly around the world quite a lot, so I needed to know what kind of sand they have on the beaches near Perth in Australia, and I still need to know whether there is a lake at Leicester University.

Some of the plot-lines which made sense in my head, have started to unravel. but today I decided to swap a couple of chapters around, and it solves the problem. If only all the problems could be sorted that quickly.

I've also noticed that I keep changing the voice I'm writing in. For the challenge, it doesn't matter too much - I suppose - but I need to have it right before I can move on. People who have done this kind of challenge before just write down the story, fly through it, and at the end they can go back and edit. Word count is important, not whether said or replied would fit better.

Hopefully I'll get the hang of it in time. And now... to the keyboard... (Oh look at that... I'm already here!)

Sunday 1 May 2011

Day One

The challenge begins! 80,000 words in 80 days. Sounds easy enough. Just 1000 words a day... I had a look at the blog, and the Facebook page, and some people have done over 4000 words already. I'm not sure I'll ever be able to sustain a pace like that.

Today I wrote... nothing.

I have excuses! I had to work this morning, helping make the population of South East Cornwall fit and healthy. Then, when I came home, I had to watch the Man City-West Ham game. A good game, and City won, but all the same I'm left with a feeling of fear that the dream might come crashing down. It's what happens when you support City, crushing realism!

Anyway, this isn't a blog about gyms and football, it's a blog about writing, and about how I am talking about not writing when I could actually be doing some writing right now.

Perhaps I will get a few words down on Day One after all.

Edited 20:04    I have just completed 1001 words. Yay!