Friday, 29 October 2010

The Decision

This time last year I had no inkling of what to write for NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) and it wasn't until 2 pm on 31 October that the idea came at me in a rush after prompting from a couple of friends who said they would like to see more of a particular character I had written about.  And although Nano 2009 was a joy in comparison to the year before, I was behind with my word count until day 20.  Right back in the early days of the writing I'd come down with the cold and for three days not a word hit the page and afterwards it was a daily struggle to keep going.  However, the friendly (but completely bonkers) rivalry/support of a group of Nanoers on the Open University network kept my spirits up and by day 24 the 50k target had been reached.  What a buzz that was!  I'd beaten 2008's finish date by four days.

This year I have no inkling of what to write for NaNoWriMo.

My current W-I-P was put on hold last year whilst I took part in the slightly insane rush to write 50,000 words in 30 days.  I don't relish the thought of putting it on hold again.  So The Decision has been made.  I intend to Nano the rest of the current novel.  I'm not entirely convinced that this is such a good idea but it's the one I'm going with for the moment.

Monday, 25 October 2010

Not All Bad

Last week was not the most productive for writing.  In fact at times it had been downright disheartening.

I'm not a meticulous planner but I usually have an airy fairy idea of where the story is going with certain actions that will definitely take place at some point along the way.  However, the getting to "some point along the way" has been a bit bothersome.  This is what I call the "in-betweeny bits" and they are proving elusive.  

My favoured method of writing is chronological and methodical - I plod on starting at the beginning and work my way through the middle and on to the end.  Simple?  No.  It's like a dot to dot puzzle - all the pieces need to be joined together to create a whole but getting from one dot to the next is a hazardous journey - one slip of the pen and everything alters.  This I have discovered in a couple of ways.  (1) complete mind blank on what to write next, which is common enough, we've all been there and it's darned frustrating when it happens, and (2) when research knocks your story out of kilter.

Let's deal with the research first.  Thanks to a friend who has a background in science I discovered that my preconceived notion of proving paternity wasn't as straightforward as I had thought.  This put an interesting slant on my story and how I was going to get out of the very tight corner I'd written my characters in to.  I still haven't resolved this problem although I have some ideas, but the worry is that whatever solution I choose may come across as contrived.  However, on a positive note, the lack of a definitive answer to the paternity issue adds to the theme running through the story of betrayal and trust.

The mind blank is the biggest problem at the moment.  The dots are all there just waiting to be connected.  Giving myself permission to write sloppily to get something down on paper hasn't worked, nor has writing random scenes, although these efforts have increased my word count and my novel is sitting at just under 14k.  That gave me a bit of a boost - at least I was getting somewhere even if it felt otherwise.

Matters were not helped by the inner editor heckling from the sidelines, sniggering at the stilted prose and the many, many word repetitions.  With this to contend with it made it difficult to want to read the terrible words that had been committed to paper.  And if the inexcusable assemblage of words across the page was ignored, how was one able to judge whether there was any potential in the work that had been pulled kicking and screaming into existence?  The deed had to be done.  And there they were - the diamonds of the dustheap (to quote Virginia Woolf (1953), A Writer's Diary, London: Harcourt).  And me being my fiercest critic, to be able to recognise the tiny wee gems glittering amongst the dross has got to be a good thing, has it not? Something worth working with?

Despite the problems and the on-going blankness, I'm slowly coming round to thinking that although my writing is far from perfect, it's not all bad.

Thursday, 14 October 2010


... don't come easy to me... <sigh>

Plodding away writing stuff that, hopefully, will become an editable romance novel.  At the moment, however, it seems an impossible dream.  The words are not playing nicely.  I look at the screen, a blank one, and ponder.  And then I ponder some more.  I tell myself, quite forcefully (I can be quite scary you know), to just write!  I wander off and clean the bathroom instead.

Words, stilted and awkward, did eventually assemble themselves in a readable fashion on to the page and the story has moved on a little.  Quite messy and cringeworthy but it's words and words can be edited.  So I keep telling myself.  It is often said that a first draft is messy, but yikes, surely not this messy?

The inner editor has a lot to answer for.  There it sits, on my shoulder, being picky about the words or a phrase that I choose.  Always there, poking its nose in, deflating my confidence and halting the flow.  But wait... come November it's gonna get a jackboot where the sun don't shine.

In fact, why wait until November... <exits stage left cackling hysterically>

Monday, 11 October 2010

Not Quite A Blonde...

Probably not the most auspicious of titles for an aspiring writer.  Let's just say it's more to do with the colour of my hair than a tendency towards dizziness.  Well... for the moment anyway... the six shades of gold and copper are slowly being joined by... <ahem> let's call it white gold and leave it at that.

Now that we've got that little issue (for me anyway) out of the way, I should perhaps say a little about myself and why I've started a Blog.

It seems that anyone who is anyone, and even those who are no-one, are Blogging.  So, why can't this No-one of Any Consequence write one too?

It's been on my mind for a while and I've read a few Blog entries and immediately felt inadequate.  I couldn't possibly have anything of interest that anyone who is anyone and even those who are no-one would want to read.  Besides, if I had anything to say that was worthy of announcing to the world at large would I be able to impart that knowledge in an engaging manner to keep my reader (one of... maybe...) reading?

It's all in the execution - a cleverness with words.  As an aspiring writer, words should be my thing.  Not so.  Writing is incredibly hard.  Many people have read books and thought Pah! I can do that.  If only...  I learnt the lesson the hard way.

I'm very much a day dreamer and spent much of my time creating adventures in my head where they lingered for a while and then would eventually be forgotten.  Day dreaming, I discovered from reading Dorothea Brande's "Becoming a Writer", can be a powerful tool for a writer.  This revelation made me feel a little better about my writing ambitions and the fact that they only surfaced at the age of 17 and not from the moment I could hold a pencil.  Day dreaming, however, has been with me for as long as I can remember.  Perhaps now is the time to put that imagination to work.