Thursday 28 July 2011

A murky pit

I haven't posted for a while, because I'm so immersed in the murky pit of my novel that I'm afraid any words not directly linked to it will just come out as jibberish.

I'm currently trying to take my 44,000 word novel up to commercial novel length. It's hard because I thought I'd told the story, and now I realise I missed bits out. Bits that I assumed, at the time of writing, would be easily filled in by the reader, and now realise probably wouldn't be unless they were reading it with my head. And, really, I don't think many people could handle being in my head.

The term murky pit is not supposed to be a negative comment - it's more the feeling I get when I look up after several hours with my head in the computer or huge folder of paper. My head is swimming, I feel jetlagged. The black words on white paper dance about, and I'm sure they re-order themselves when I'm not looking.

The fact that this part of the process has coincided with the start of the school holidays, a heap of decorating and therefore a whole lot of furniture not in its rightful room, AND a chocolate craving the size of Antartica, means my head really isn't in the right mood for blogging too.

(I've also just realised I totally missed the Booker longlist announcement, so I have absolutely no opinion of it whatsoever.... And I call myself a writer!!)

Tuesday 19 July 2011

Day 80... things that I've learnt...

So, today is the last day of the MYWYN challenge of writing 80,000 words in 80 days. You'll notice I'm blogging instead of writing any more of the novel - although, there'd be more words to my overall total if I included all the blog posts I've written since 1st May. However, I haven't counted, so I'm not adding them in.

The grand total is.... 43,457 words!

I thought, as I've already psycho-analysed my attempt, that I would list the things that I've learnt during this challenge:

- my family like clean clothes, but they're not so fussed about ironed clothes (until 5 minutes before they're due to go out!)

- the school day is not very long at all

- red pens have a habit of disappearing just when you really need them

- I write best with Absolute Radio, but Homes Under the Hammer works just as well

- I can't write without editing as I go along

- I'm probably not cut out for novel writing, but I've got my fingers crossed that a publisher is at least curious enough to read it.

Well, I think there are enough lessons there for one day.

I've really enjoyed this challenge. I've enjoyed the actual writing every day, the companionship of knowing others are attempting the same thing, keeping up to date via the Facebook group and everyone's blogs. I'd like to thank Sally Quilford for setting up this challenge, and I'll definitely be joining in with the next one. And also thank you to all the new followers of my blog on the back of this. I hope you've enjoyed reading my exploits as much as I've enjoyed reading all of yours!

Saturday 16 July 2011

Ode to my study...

This is the room where I've spent the past eight or nine years. I've written two novels in here and countless short stories. On that computer I've opened emails telling me I've won 1st and 3rd prizes, or been shortlisted, or totally failed and should never darken their doorstep again (Okay, that last one is a lie, but isn't that how rejections sometimes hit you?)

In the window, you can see the outline of a Captain Jack Sparrow wobbly head. In the pen pot I have a purple wand that a late colleague gave to me the day we dressed up for Comic Relief, and an orange feather.

The opened file is the novel I've been working on for MYWYN, the 80,000 words in 80 days challenge.

Most of this is going to be packed away in boxes, including my absolutely wonderful desk...

This perfect room - this sanctuary - is to become a bedroom for a pre-teen boy, who will make it smell and fill it with dirty clothes and muddy shoes and half-eaten snacks. The door will be slammed a lot more than it's used to, and the paintwork will have to contend with a lot more Blu-Tac than it's ever dealt with before. My poor study... I'm not sure it knows what I'm letting it in for!

Wednesday 13 July 2011

Random thoughts on what I think is Day 74

On Day probably 74, I've got to the end of a third-ish draft and have 42,351 words of my novel(la) sorted. The second draft was printed out and covered with blue ink additions and rewites. Then I put it aside for a couple of days and out came the green pen, and further re-writes.

I think what I really need is one of those pens with 15 (?) colours in it, like I had at school. As I remember it, there was one year at school when everyone had one of those pens; it became a necessity, although I don't ever remember using many of the less common colours, mostly because they were too light/faint to be clearly read. But right now, with this penchant for covering one manuscript with colour-coded rewrites, it would be very useful.

I'm just about to print this newly completed draft, and then the coloured rewrites will happen all over again. Printing it out is always a big thing for me. For a start it will take a wad of 189 sheets of paper (which is a lot, when by now I though no one would be using paper - that's what they told us in the 1990s!), and also it makes what I've written so far permanent. I can't distance myself from it. If I stumble across a section which doesn't flow, which is just plain daft, it's mine - I can't deny it.

In much the same way, I'm also delaying passing it to anyone to read. I love having people read my short stories (although I do pace or walk out of the room) because I pretty much know my short stories are ok. But I'm not a novel writer, however much I would like to see, at some stage, a couple of them published, alongside - hopefully - a few collections of short stories...

I have my dream back-catalogue already in my head - is that weird?

Well, that's all for this post - I told you it was random!

Saturday 9 July 2011

The Catcher in the Rye

I'm currently reading The Catcher in the Rye. I've never read it before, but it always appears on 100 Greatest Novels and other lists of that ilk; so when I saw it on the library shelves this week, I thought I'd give it a go.

As a novel, it's okay. Yeah, I'd go a far as saying it's all right. Granted, I'm probably not the target audience JD Salinger had in mind when he was writing it: I'm female, I'm a lot older than the protagonist, and I'm sure that being a teenager in the 40s was a lot different to being a teenager in the 80s/90s, when I was doing it.

But, probably because of the things I've just mentioned, I wonder how it's become a classic. I'm on page 75 out of 192, so perhaps something exciting happens in a minute, but so far it's been a pretty staid, safe analysis of two very carefully observed days.

I know the word classic is subjective. For me, classic novels are To Kill a Mockingbird, The Handmaid's Tale, maybe something by Dickens. A classic novel, for me, should show me a situation from another perspective, leaving me thinking about the subject... and possibly even teach me a something. It should be a book I could read over and over again, and still find something new within the pages.

Maybe because The Catcher in the Rye has been in my consciousness for so long, I've built it up to be something it could not possibly be. I didn't know what the story was before I started reading - maybe I was expecting to be blown away, and I wasn't.

Now, I'm left wondering whether fiction can fulfil that desire or whether, because of the age we live in, only films with their 3D effects can provide that. I hope not. There are still books that leave me spellbound - maybe these are the classics of the future.

Thursday 7 July 2011

Something nifty I saw on someone else's blog...

Except I can't remember whose blog it was, or I would give them a shout out here. Sorry, fellow blogger!

Anyway, it's nifty, and it's on the right hand side of this page ---->

It's a Follow by Email button. I know a lot of people who read this blog are not signed into Blogger/Google or whatever else it is (I'm feeling so computer literate right now!), but possibly they would like to know when a new post is available. This - I assume - will allow them to receive emails when I update my blog.

Now, I need a guinea pig to sign up and tell me whether this does happen as easily as that.