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.

2016 Predictions

This year has been rife with changes for me; not least that I have stuck at doing several new things and actually succeeded at them.

For next year, there are a number of things I would like to predict will happen, in my life and in others’.

The first prediction is that I will get my son into swimming lessons (at last). He loves the water, always has, and is a wee terror if he doesn’t get the energy release from swimming of a weekend. It makes things interesting when we occasionally have family to visit, as he gets Very Excited when people are in the house (besides his parents, of course; we may as well be furniture).

The second prediction is that we will *not* go on our first family holiday. We’re kind of sort of trying to arrange one, but when my other half goes ‘I should just do this’ historically it hasn’t taken place.

The third prediction is that I will not publish a novel next year. It’s always something to aim for, but realistically I’m not there yet. NaNoWriMo this year helped, but I have a long way to go to 1,000,000 words. Especially with my sparse writing style.

The fourth prediction is that my job will give me at least as much stress as this year, if not considerably more. The promise of a payrise can’t compare to the hassle it’s going to bring as I am pushed into talking to *shudder* people. It’s mostly customers who garner that reaction in me; suppliers are easier to talk to for some reason.

The fifth prediction is that another change will come about in writing and publishing. I don’t know what it is, but the market is ripe for a change to loosen Amazon’s grip on the ebook market, and I fully expect to see it next year. Not that I have anything against Amazon; I just generally like to see people competing for my custom.

What are your predictions? Do you foresee a revolution in the way people read? A family Incident? The overturning of laws like VAT on ebooks? Let me know…

We’ll come back to this at the end of 2016 to see how realistic these predictions were, and hopefully it’ll turn out that some of them were true and others false (especially the stressy work one).

 

Post-NaNo Catchup

Hello there.

I’m writing this in a lull at work during November, and will doubtless post it having written over five or six different days.

I wanted to get down that I feel like I’ve been promoted. Not the you’ve-got-a-payrise kind, more that people are actually talking to me as though I’m in a position of authority. I’m used to being the one to sign things – I’ve worked in finance for years – but now people are calling me. On my work phone. It’s actually a heady feeling. And this week (on the 5th) I went for my first business lunch (as opposed to grabbing lunch on the way to a meeting).

I think it has something to do with acting like I’m in charge of something – perhaps there is something to my boss’ “Take Ownership” spiel after all.

Two weeks later (18th) and I still feel in charge, but of my life rather than work. Or at least my writing. I’ve been off ill for half a day (yes, that *is* a thing) and yesterday decided to actually plot my novel. An hour later, I have a scene list.

I’ve been fairly terrible about writing the last week or so – hitting 50k was a bit of a bad thing for me, I think. I will be submitting my 50k for validation on Friday (20th), but it’s taken away my drive to just pour the words out. I suppose that means I just need to find another motivator.

I have also discovered 4thewords.com, which is a game-type writing interface which sends you ‘questing’ and ‘battling monsters’ to hit word counts within time limits. It’s looking good so far, but they’re currently doing site maintenance, which is slightly annoying when I’m in the mood to write. Nonetheless, it’s promising as I’ve already written around 3k on there.

Happiness

Yesterday, I was happy. For a good few hours, everything was lovely. No drama to follow, merely the realisation that this, just spending time puttering about the house with my family, was happiness. It was wonderful.

Of course, that can’t last, but I’m still utterly content, though there was the obligatory frustration with my work computer taking its sweet time loading up this morning. It looks to be a good week.

That was all I wanted to say for now. Just getting my happiness logged for later in the month when I’m having a meltdown and everything looks grim…

NaNoWriMo and Other Things

I have officially won my first ever NaNoWriMo! Yay!

I also discovered yesterday, quite by accident, that there was a site which had exactly what I need to motivate myself beyond 50k: 4thewords.com. They were sponsoring NaNo and I clicked through… and discovered the exact right thing for me.

I got 2k out on this new thing yesterday – battling monsters with word counts in a set time frame, and points for hitting 444 words per day, and streaks to maintain… it’s brilliant!

That, unfortunately, was the only writing I got done yesterday. My gnat-like attention span has decided I’ve finished Steel Fist for now, but I know (logically, as opposed to practically) that I still have a fair bit to write. My plan, such as it is, involves taking a weekend day and writing the scenes on my list until I hit 200k, then leaving the whole thing alone for seven or eight months.

In that gap, I can be writing other things using this overview-to-scene planning method, such as The Mob Accountant, Quirky Vampire Girl (working title), or even one of the numerous romances stored in my head.

I have a feeling new year’s resolutions for 2016 will include ‘write one whole effing story’.

NaNoWriMo Day 18 – Whoops

So, I – er – completely forgot to update my word count yesterday. There goes that last badge. *sigh*

In other news, I’ve been organising the scenes already written in Scrivener. I like it, but it’s kind of annoying in that I can’t see a word count except in one particular mode.

Last night, my other half gave me a nice long overview of his novel, should he ever get around to writing it. It was rather difficult not to picture how I would write it; I get the sense I wouldn’t be forgiven that one.

Then again, there’s that old saying: good writers borrow ideas from other people; great writers steal them outright… We shall see. It wouldn’t be the first time someone told me an idea and I ran with it (in probably a totally different direction).

I’m also not proud that I was rather critical – there were a few points I felt wouldn’t stand up to scrutiny (and one complete cop-out), but that’s not a reason for him not to write it that way. The only way to get this kind of thing right is to get it wrong a few times. Just like science, I suppose.

Anyway, I may or may not get any additional writing done today, but I know for a fact that next year’s NaNo will be done differently. And my procrastiscarf is coming along nicely 🙂

NaNoWriMo Day 17 – Inspiration!

What if, right, what if I just write the continuation of the story? I have a whole other plot for the youngest child of the main characters – in a different place with different characters. I could write that for the rest of NaNo!

This one, however, will be properly plotted. 50k or bust by 2015-11-30! That’s 12 days (tonight will be plotting) to write it. Assuming I can do 5k per day as early in Steel Fist, I won’t have a problem!

…second-guessing myself here. Why don’t I just plot Steel Fist and write the scenes which haven’t already been done? That way I am both a plotter and a pantser this year…