The Writing Train Has Finally Left The Station

Writing – finally, we have progress again!

Apparently, all I needed was a mental recharge and a visit from my sister to trigger a scene between sisters. 5k later, I’ve managed to write a daily amount which would see me comfortably through NaNoWriMo, which is plenty for a daily average and a good idea to maintain just for practising.

That or it was the genre swap (I’ve been reading Sci-Fi for a week instead of fluff) or the ridiculous amount of alcohol consumed over the weekend.

To be perfectly honest, I don’t care what it was; I feel like I have my mojo back!

It’s also nice to be able to write something I intended on doing… even if there is one (perfectly logical) diversion. It doesn’t even make later scenes change. It’s also allowed me to acknowledge a greater depth in one character. Good stuff, so far. Now to redirect this on time in April for Camp NaNo…

Back to the sci-fi binge – I need to stop being obsessive about things I find interesting. I breeze through everything available rather than pacing myself – though spending a week reading six books is pacing myself – then get a prolonged story hangover when I’m done. I’m just lucky in this case that there’s already a spinoff to get into, though I’m not convinced it’ll have the same impact.

It may freshen up my ‘you might like’ list though – moving it away from fluff.

It’s also, unfortunately, the time when the TV programmes I was watching before Christmas have started airing again. That means less reading time 😦

On Marriage, a Rant

A sad realisation this morning. Even if I were to somehow get a proposal before my 30th birthday (we’ve been together since I was 18; I’m 25 now), I’d probably still say no. You don’t take 12 years to decide to keep someone; a year of living together is plenty.

I know I have an attachment to the concept of marriage. We’re raised with it, with this ideal of sharing your life completely with someone else. What used to be an exchange of paternity and security has become an expression of shared commitment. What used to be the thing everyone aimed for has become optional, at least as far as men are concerned.*

This has a downside. No longer is the assumed future of a relationship a piece of paper stating union; it’s a mortgage and kids without that binding that cements the partnership. I, like many others, have had to resign myself to this. What do you do? For me, it was finding an acceptable alternative. Something that would make me feel as though I had grown up for real, instead of pretending like I do now.

My solution: a name change. When I reach the determined age, I will change my name. I will own a new self, complete with new middle name spelling.** My surname will no longer be my father’s; it will be mine. I’ll always regret not having my son’s name, but I’ve come to terms with never giving him a sibling as much as I have never sharing a name. He’s named for my maternal uncles and grandfather (they had the same name, not three different ones), and that’s good enough.

It makes me wonder, this dream we keep instilling in our children, whether we should. I’m not saying we should teach little girls (and boys; my own is a wee fairy princess) that no-one will choose them for life like in the stories. I’m saying we should maybe change the rules. Rules like ‘you have to have a diamond engagement ring’. Rules like ‘it’s the most important day of your life’. Rules like ‘you can’t call yourself ‘Mrs’ until you’re married’.

That last one is a particular bugbear of mine. I will forever be ‘Miss’ – no ambiguous ‘Ms’ for me – and it irks me that women can’t be addressed as women as a matter of age like we do men. We aren’t in the olden days, when women belonged to their fathers and then their husbands; we’re in an age where women can earn ‘Dr’, ‘Maj’, or ‘Cllr’ just as easily as men. Why, then, do we not start addressing grown women as such as soon as they attain adulthood? My other half (we need a new word that isn’t ‘boyfriend’ or ‘partner’) has been known as ‘Mr’ since he hit 18. My son will do the same (though when post arrives addressed to ‘Master’ it’s pretty fun). Why am I stuck with ‘Miss’? If I started calling myself ‘Mrs’, everyone (no, really) would assume I was married.*** We should really remove marriage as a rite of passage if it’s not going to be done by everyone.

Because a woman is just a girl until she gets a man. That’s what I really object to. Doesn’t stop me craving that piece of paper though.

*as men are concerned and told to perpetuate. It’s not ‘manly’ to want to get married.
** ‘Voira’ is not how my mother spelt it.
*** a lot of people already assume that. It’s really awkward telling people I’m his girlfriend and not his wife, especially sweet older relatives of his uni friends. Especially especially when our son is standing there. Some cultural norms die hard, especially especially especially in my romance-novel-loving head.

Overload

I’ve been busy at work, busy with sorting out my car, busy messing up dinner and then crying about it… Nothing seems to go right lately. I’m more than ready for my upcoming week off *snigger*.

The snigger, of course, is because it isn’t a week off from stress, only from going in to work. I will still have to drive my family around, I will still have to cook dinner (though admittedly we’re spending two nights away from home so I won’t have to do it then), and I will still have to remain on call for my job (which is a whole lot less glamorous than ‘doctor’ or ‘consultant’).

Why am I looking forward to it? I associate not having to go into the office, and even not having to wear office clothing, with relaxation and de-stressing. Probably a holdover from my school days, where non-uniform days were hailed as the pinnacle of any school term.

My writing has, yet again, not been progressing, though I’m edging towards what I think will be some quality writing time – we’ve finally taken on the task of getting the housework finished before we go away.

In the meantime, I’m adding continually to my over-long list of stories to write, largely in the low-intensity area of romance. The sheer number of situations I can envisage is something to be proud of; the main reason I haven’t been upping my fantasy count so much is that the setting has taken up the bulk of my creativity there.

I was pleasantly surprised this week when I was required to write something distinctly non-formal for an expo we’re doing: 100-word limit, no sales jargon, describe the company without being boring. I had loads of fun with that one!

Whoops

I’ve somehow fallen into the position of being tired all the time and extremely busy when I do have the energy to deal with things. I haven’t properly written anything since Christmas, and I feel terrible about that. I seem to be emerging from the other side of a minor episode of SAD, so now is the time to take my life back in my own hands.

All my typical excuses (bar the fatigue, that probably won’t go until I’m drinking again) are now exhausted, so I need to get off my backside, sit down at my laptop, and get to typing. Irony fully intended.

The loose plan for what to write is one of my fantasy projects – not the NaNoWriMo one and not the one earmarked for Camp NaNoWriMo – then in February (of course) knock out some steamy romance, which is always a good fallback when I’m in a low mood.

The Soul Is Willing…

…but the flesh is weak. Addled by caffeine and too much alcohol, the odd burn from cooking and a dependency on sugar. I do go swimming though. Honest.

I haven’t done much writing at all since hitting the 50k mark for NaNoWriMo – on the 18th of November. I rested on my laurels, which was a silly thing to do, and now I’m paying the price. I had thought that the seat-of-the-pants nature of my project for NaNo was the reason I stuttered and stopped a couple of times. In an attempt to prevent this happening in subsequent efforts, I plotted out the novel.

Then I plotted out a few more. Not next-in-the-series, just other stories I haven’t written yet. What I learnt? I have yet to find the method for planning novels which actually suits me. I also have a hard time with the terminology.

‘Conflict’ is one that crops up rather frequently – in my head it still means a war or at least a fight of some magnitude. That novel-plotters mean something more like ‘at cross-purposes’ doesn’t escape me, but it feels rather contrived to insert opposition when in your head there wasn’t any.

I suspect I’m getting the wrong end of the stick, and that I’m also a little too romance-and-fluff-focused. I personally don’t mind, but I have a feeling the point is to get some tension into the story. It’s only a story if something happens which didn’t before, and it’s only interesting if things keep happening. I love a good action scene, though other people’s can bore me (I get that it’s hypocritical, but it’s also reading as a writer, so thbpbpbpbpbpt), but I genuinely don’t like too much in the way of opposition to something.

Perhaps that’s naive and perhaps I should stop thinking that way, but I reserve the right to keep reading things with a happy ending whenever I want.

Another facet of novel-planning which seems designed to scupper me is talking about characters’ motivations. Are they supposed to have deep, driving causes? Can’t someone genuinely be along for the ride, living in the moment? Do we really care about the childhood tragedy which orphaned the hero and sent him on an otherwise predestined path?

I hate that kind of thing. Plenty of people have had perfectly nice childhoods and gone on to do both wonderful and terrible things. Then again, the books I read tend not to be centred on normal families. Why not, I ask you? I would attempt to talk about ‘low fantasy’ (as opposed to high fantasy), but that’s already a thing and it isn’t about the average Joanne. There seems to be a real dearth of main characters forming meaningful relationships with people (especially parents) in my preferred genres. It’s sad.

Despite the little rant above, I actually do like reading fantasy – you get a really experimental take on systems of government, the limits of humanity, and the effects of powerful people throughout history. What I wish I saw more is how all that really cool high-level stuff affects the villager in their cottage, or the bartender at the inn.

I’ve seen it written more than once that if you really want to read a particular story, you should write it. That is what I will do. Starting with the situation closest to my own – young family.

If it turns autobiographical, poke me.

Reminiscing

I stumbled onto my Tumblr blog recently, and was pleased to discover that I was just as coherent when writing about a finicky toddler who wouldn’t sleep in his own bed as I am now writing about him reading and asking intelligent questions. Not that I’ve done much of that in the last month, what with my obsession with novelling.

Another cause for reminiscence, though with less impact, was the discovery that I could now get an app for my [Android] phone which I haven’t used since my six-month foray into iOS back when I had the aforementioned toddler. It’s Path, by the way. I’m poking around what I posted, marvelling at the short hair and how little I did back then. There is an excellent picture of me though:

wpid-wp-1448377864139.jpg[It’s a witch!]

There’s also the looming spectre of my previous company – we’re just tying up the final loose ends of our corporate divorce. It’s depressing how adversarial we are now…

Back to the Schedule

Discipline. That’s clearly going to be the key for December. After my embarrassing lack of discipline in November – spending basically all my money with two weeks to go ’til payday – I’m in need of a bit of cutting back.

Somewhat ironically, I am going to be doing lots of baking and gift-buying – but there’s no need to go overboard. I don’t have a ridiculously large gift list, and most people will be happier with something personal than something kerspensive. Should be a doddle – once I’ve worked out what I’m getting who, anyway.

Then there’s the discipline of sitting down and writing every day. I woke up with my alarm this morning, at five to six. What I ought to have done was get up and do an hour’s writing. What I actually did was have a half-hour lie-in, read for twenty minutes and then got up at almost seven.  Given the house is now clean and tidy, I don’t really have an excuse for not plonking myself in the dining room or on the sofa, and booting up the laptop.

The final thing is discipline with alcohol. I’m well aware that temptation will be lurking around every corner, so I’m going to do my best not to indulge more than the minimum. The easiest way to do this will be not to go out or to remain the designated driver; an easy feat given I’m hardly a social butterfly and we haven’t actually arranged an employee Christmas do.

In summary, discipline for December. There’s always scope for improvement, as well as room for slippage. I don’t expect to be perfect, but building some discipline into my days should help in many areas.