Thursday, November 30, 2006
Success at NaNoWriMo
Made a nice and early start with writing commencing at 05:45 this morning. The desire to drift and take the characters off on a tangent is strong, so I'm having to be strong and keep in mind the direction and strands of thread that must now be intertwined. It's fucking thrilling stuff to be doing. Imagine getting this much satisfaction from picking out words and then writing them down in a certain order. If only the day job was half as good.
For those wishing to keep on writing their novels, I noticed that NaNoFiMo has been set up. National Novel Finishing Month aims to keep writers going who made it but want more, or who never quite managed the 50k in November. I've had my fair share of all things starting with NaNo this year, and will rely on my own motivation and craft to complete the book from here on in.
The Bad Sex in Fiction Award 2006winner was announced yesterday. Iain Hollingshead has won with the "most crude, tasteless, often perfunctory use of redundant passages of sexual description in the modern novel", in his first novel, Twenty Something.
After I've finished Slick, I think I may be in with a chance for next year's competition!
Over lunch I worked on the novel, and found myself ridiculously following my word count after each paragraph. Just as Lennox discovered "someones" body in Claremont Road, Leith, I checked the count and it sat proudly at 70,001 words. Awesome! I kept on writing to the end of that chapter and finished for the day.
I'm delighted to have gotten this far in only a month. 50k was hard, particularly because I tried NaNo once before and failed, but with some good preparation and commitment to write the set quota each day, I ended up writing 70k words in only 30 days.
When I got home I uploaded the manuscript and collected my winners icon (see left) and certificate.
NaNo words today: 3089
* NANOWRIMO - Slick - 50,000 completed on the 20th, 70,000 on the 30th - done
* Publish Poolside Poetry - still to finalise book cover and font - postponed.
* Begin work on Scotland's Treasure for January column - Spotlight on Aberfoyle. Locality,
history, what it offers, getting to etc. Might include the Blockheads gig review too. - Started planning
* Carry out interview with Scottish poet - still to arrange
Marketing and Promotion
* Prepare and submit press release for Poolside Poetry - postponed.
* Complete cross-promotion with Fife B&B for Fringe Fantastic - not done
* Follow up meeting with owner of Elvis Shakespeare bookshop - not done
* Keep website up to date - done
Reading and Research
* Finish reading The Flood and Knots and Crosses by Ian Rankin - Complete. Long reading but enjoyed the ride.
* Start reading The Brooklyn Follies by Paul Auster - Postponed. Wanted to read Harvey instead.
* Start reading Flesh and Blood by John Harvey novel - WIP
* Stay on top of editorial work for TSDR - done
Things That Turned Up
* 1 poem written (I Kissed You)
* Wrote 70,000 words of Slick during the 30 days of Novermber
* Amanda and Joe rejected by One Story 18/11
Fiction - 70,000
Non-Fiction - 13700
Poetry - 70
3am Magazine 1
Barcelona Review 1
The Portable Muse 2
Crimespree Magazine 1
Interactive Dad 2
As far as fiction goes this month has been spectacular. I have written 70k in one month, over 80% of a novel, and enjoyed the ride. It was hard work, took a lot out of me but there have been too many benefits to mention. Slick has a lot of potential and I'm happy with the way it panned out.
As far as everything else goes, apart from a few preparatory notes and website updates, I didn't do much of anything else. I didn't think I would. I wiped the slate clear for the month so I could put my all into it and it paid off.
I now have to focus on completing the novel and then putting it away for a wee while. I'll work on other things next month, enjoy my Christmas holidays and be ready and refreshed to face new challenges next year.
Wednesday, November 29, 2006
Twists and Turns
The worst thing about daughters is the indignity of having to purchase concert tickets for bands such as Girls Aloud. Just when I thought that taking her to see Madness in Glasgow next month as a core part of her musical training would finally turned her, I still find myself clicking on the BUY button next to bands like this. What's the world coming to?
Speaking of this years Madness Christmas tour, I see that Birmingham, Bournemouth and Brighton are all sold out, and that Glasgow, Newcastle and Manchester have all had their capacity's increased to cope with the demand for tickets. The boys are still the best and still as popular as ever among the nation's hearts through all generations. Great to see!
I was approaching the 66k mark with Slick when I hit a major problem. My original plan for the ending has somewhat fallen by the wayside, but I had a general idea of where the story was going to go. This, I was using to gently steer the plot towards its final goal.
I realised that where I was could actually provide the story with an amazing twist - one that I never even saw coming until now - but by doing so it would cut the story short by about 20-30k. Even taking Devon's excellent comments in from yesterday's post into account, I still think it would be a problem with regards to the overall quality of the story.
What I mean is, I'm not worried about being short of words after the advice, but I am worried that being that far short and diverted from the original idea, might harm what I'm trying to do. I dropped the final estimated word count by 10k on my Zukoto meter to reflect this.
So I began writing about it here in my blog to try and clear my mind and see the real issue as it might be. And as I typed these very words, it came to me. Use the twist you just thought of, but alter it to encompass your original ending and make it much more exciting. You dick!.
So that's what I did. And it's waaay better than I planned. Once I began following the idea, I had to force myself to stop writing. A lot of people have uploaded their manuscripts already to avoid the final day rush, but I just can't resist going for the 70k. I hope it doesn't backfire on me and the servers don't crash.
I also realised that the reason I want this story to go on, is that I'm enjoying writing it so much. I'm enjoying the exploration and the twists, the discoveries and characters. I don't want it to end. But it has to. I can feel the pinch of the great void that comes after a major piece of work coming already. The addiction has to be fed, but there has to be reflection as well. I have to keep learning and growing.
NaNo words today: 2982
Tuesday, November 28, 2006
Pot Holes and Passion
On the plot side of things, the flower bed doesn't look quite so rosy. I'm discovering lots of loose ends, holes in the main and sub-plots and discrepancies between foundations I laid earlier on in the manuscript to what is happening now.
It's nothing I can't fix, and indeed when I go back to edit, these are the details I will have to double and triple check anyway, but it's annoying nevertheless. There are some glaring holes with police procedures and forensic stuff, all of which are building into long lists with which to approach the Police service with, and there is still the worry that I am going to run to the end of the story before I reach the 100k point.
It's all part of the novel writing process, so worry doesn't come into it. I'm looking forward to finishing the first draft and then after the new year, starting the first redraft with all these 'problems' incuded.
Later in the evening I felt able to finally get back to some of the other stuff I planned for myself this month. I'm glad I cleared my plate for the month otherwise this NaNo thing could have been an even tougher ride, but there are still some must-do's that can't escape my attention.
I updated my website - nothing major just a few wee changes - and then I went on search for a new font to be used in Poolside Poetry. Remember that? It's my new book due out shortly but I have still to choose the final front cover and font! The font change was a late decision - but the right one. I just didn't like the one I had picked originally. It has to be right otherwise what's the point?
Then I listened to some Blockheads and ordered some Chrimbo presents online. December is almost here, after all, and time waits for noone.
NaNo words today: 4019
Monday, November 27, 2006
Working Through The Noise
I used my time wisely, doing some tidying and cleaning before picking up Laura later from school. I began work on my GDR for next year. I think there are going to be some heavy accents on particular areas of my writing next year, and a more obvious move to making fiction writing the main focus.
Working in the evening didn't come as easily as planned. All my thinking throughout the day had led to a swell of ideas as to how I was going to take the next stage of the manuscript forward. I began writing and it all came rushing out. I had the first 1k down within half an hour. Then the banging started, and the scraping and the glorious noise of slamming doors alongside the fun of seeing expensive heat rushing out of the wide open door to be replaced by its freezing cousin rushing in to replace it.
The noise was still going at 10pm. God knows how Laura got to sleep. Will it ever end? Who knows. Sometimes it seems like it has always been there.
Regardless of the headache I managed to pass the 60k mark, so the train rumbles on.
NaNo words today: 2177
Sunday, November 26, 2006
We went to a couple of bars in the town and down by the coast during the day, but it wasn't a heavy session. It was a late one though, but it was just good to relax and talk, take in the slower pace and enjoy my bro's company.
Slick was always in the back of my mind, but not as much as it has been over the past coupe of months. There were delays coming back on the train, which didn't amuse me, and when I got back the tiredeness caught up with me and I thought I wasn't going to get anything written as planned.
I fought through it though and managed to write into the next chapter - not as much as planned, but enough to get back into the flow and enough to keep me on track for 70k.
NaNo words today: 692
Friday, November 24, 2006
Back on Track
It can be done!
Only problem is I'm running out of story again. I may have to write to the end then go back and add some new scenes. It's actually got quite complicated when I look back. It switches between the protagonist and the police quite a bit, and as I reach the excitement of the revelations, there seems to be more of them. It feels like it is adding to the suspense of the plot though, which may also explain the ease at which the words are coming, but only time will tell.
I've already had a couple of offers for beta readers, so it looks like the excitement is spreading.
Check out this guy. He gets jailed and escapes because his girlfriend hasn't contacted him. When he turns up at her house he finds she's four months pregnant to another bloke! Had to laugh.
For an interesting wee video animation using album covers (two Madness), click here.
NaNo words today: 4075
Thursday, November 23, 2006
I was in such a mad rush to get to work this morning that I made a couple of major boobs. First, I turned up for my 9.30am meeting - just as everyone was coming out. The meeting, I found out, was actually at 9am, and I had missed it.
Then as I was apologising profusely for my poor time keeping, I realised I had neglected to put on my tie as I rushed out the door that morning. Age, and the effects of it, escapes nobody.
Work was hectic. We have some major problems in all sectors that are piling up and we do not have the time or resource to handle them all. So we're prioritising, but it all means that I'm losing lunch break time to write.
It was late in the evening before I could even do what work I could manage on Slick. I had to attend a quiz night at Laura's school. The highlight was the pre-advertised "free refreshments" that was shown in the ticket we had to buy. I was expecting a choice of tea or coffee and maybe some sausage rolls. What did we get? Cartons of fresh orange juice (strictly one per person) and a choice of Chocolate Bourbons or Custard Creams (strictly one per person). I had a Custard Cream. Then waited till it was over.
I got home about 9pm with my back sore from having to sit on wee plastic seats for the duration, so I tried to write what I could on the next chapter. I struggled mentally to get into the flow and gave up after half an hour, deciding to get out a book and do some reading instead. An early night means i can get up early tomorrow and steam ahead with the novel.
I have now fallen behind and am glad I've completed NaNo. But I am in danger of letting it all fall by the wayside if I don't get sharp about this. I won't get anything done this weekend as I am going away, so I need to write 5,300 words tomorrow to make up for it. All I need is a good start of about 2k before 9am.
It's been done before!
NaNo words today: 705
Wednesday, November 22, 2006
Then I saw it. On the top of a garage roof to my right, there appeared to be the figure of a small dark man. Not just any small man, more than that. I double-took as I approached and yes, it was the Grim Reaper himself. He was standing with his black cloak on, his scythe in his hand with the staff resting on the ground where he stood. He was watching me as I made my along the misty Leith street. I thought my time was nigh.
Fear gripped me. I walked steadily and quietly, tried to control my breathing, but couldn't hide for the small nervous bursts of condensation leaving my mouth. I drew level with the Reaper, and then saw what was happening. I was looking at a Sky satellite dish. The angle I had been approaching made it appear like Death's servant standing on the roof.
But as my heart settled down to a gentle canter, I came to the conclusion that regardless of the dish's form in my over-fertile imagination, I should take care with everything I do today. Just in case.
Onto less heart stopping matters. I wrote a diabolically low amount of words today and was unable to catch up due to distractions such as being ill-prepared in the morning for a quick getting ready routine, a busy lunch time, and then snooker in the evening. What I did write - and am about to write in that particular chapter - will need verification and research after the manuscript is down on paper. I have a lot of questions to ask both the Metropolitan and Lothian and Borders Police Forces come the start of next year.
NaNo words today: 20
Tuesday, November 21, 2006
I felt quite sprightly and fresh today after a slightly longer kip though. I say long; long compared to my recent starts but not to 'normal' people. Last night I finished Rankin's The Flood but I had to force myself to the end I was so tired. Such an exciting and alarming twist to the book's finale though, which I never saw coming. To be honest, as a Dad of a wee girl myself, it made my skin crawl and I felt quite uncomfortable with it from that point of view. That said, it was fabulously written and a good lesson in plot and character development and how to trick the reader then hit them between the eyes.
Looking at my stats for NaNo so far, I've done an average of 2507 words per day, 500 more than I aimed for. Obviously that's including the lows and highs, but still pleasing as an overall average. It also highlights the main thing I reckon I will take from this experience, and that is that I have absolutely no excuses for not attaining this level of writing every day. Mix that in with everything else; research, promotion, web work and the imagery side, and it will obviously have an impact, but I should be writing more per month than I have been. It's been an eye opener and proof that I have it in me to stretch to such limits, even with a family and child - and rabbits and guinea pigs and fish and so on.
The good thing is I can relax with the manuscript now. There's no pressure to get to 50k anymore so it should, theoretically, get easier. The trouble I have when writing is that I want to see it down on paper sooner rather than later. Even if I end up sacrificing some amount of quality I can always go back and edit. Getting it down is a huge first step and allows you to then step back and look away for a minute before analysing. It's the old lump of clay analogy. You can't really begin until you have constructed that initial lump of clay. That's how I see it, anyway.
I'm approaching the traditional sticky area for me in the novel - that bit where you begin to head towards the conclusion and tie everything up. I'm through any form of middle-sag - NaNoWriMo saw to that - but I always get the "am I doing the right thing here?" syndrome. We'll see how it transpires. I believe I may have done enough preparation and I know I am a more experienced writer since I was last at this stage with a novel, so you never know.
Got nothing written until after work, but I sat down with the laptop and got stuck in to make my daily target. It wasn't my best. I was writing a vital scene between two vital characters with some major issues, and t came out as almost all dialogue. The main thing was to progress the story and explain some history through their voices so I achieved that. I can, and will, go back and pad it out with the rest later on, probably a morning when it will come out easier.
NaNo words today: 2148
Monday, November 20, 2006
NaNoWriMo Is A Done Deal
I had an excellent morning, managing to get down over three thousand easy flowing words before it even hit the afternoon. This left me with only about 1500 to go to reach the NaNoWriMo finishing line. The flow was so good I had to stop myself from writing just to get the bus into work. It was then I thought today might be the day.
But then I hit a snag. I uncovered a loose thread in the plot, pulled it and unravelled a chunk out of the finely patterned fabric. So close to the target and I had a problem! I had to think about it and it meant going through the plot, using my imagination and logic circuits to the max.
I needed a link between the body found at the foot of Arthur's Seat, Ronnie Glover, and DI Lennox still down in London. I needed to get Lennox up the road to join the murder investigation running in Edinburgh. So I wrote this blog entry in the hope of sparking a thought. Nope. Nothing.
It hit me later on I the day. Of course! It all made sense later on after a break. I couldn't wait to get home and get typing. I thought about it some more to make sure no silly threads were left dangling in the breeze and it seems water tight. I'll recheck it when it comes round to the next draft though, but in the meantime it works and seems to fit like a glove so I'm happy.
I got totally drenched on the way home. Horizontal rain and gale force winds made it a nightmare hourney back to Chez Galbraith. I started writing when I got in and before long, the magic 50,000 mark was almost upon me. The atmosphere was electric as I approached the line, and then crossed it be by a mere 3 words at the end of a sentence.
On the 25th of the month we get to upload our final manuscripts for confirmation and get our winners badges for the websites. I'll keep writing to the 30th and see what I end up with after a full month. According to my planner, at my budget of 2k per day, I should reach about 67,000.
But for now I must take stock and start thinking about the next 50,000, which I have estimated is required in order to finish the novel. So I have to keep going. Maybe not at the same pace as NaNo, but who knows. If I can get this manuscript drafted for the end of the year I'll be well chuffed.
NaNo words today: 4941
Sunday, November 19, 2006
Sunday In The Park
CD in hand I walked excitedly back to the house to listen to the tunes. It's an excellent recording of a range of Madness concerts. Well worth the £1.20 the newspaper cost. The paper pitched it as; buy our Sunday newspaper and get a free CD on the cheap of an ageing 1980's pop band.
I saw it as; buy a cheap CD containing nostalgic, footstomping music of one of Britain's greatest treasures, and get a crappy Sunday paper for free.
After a read of the paper and some interesting short story ideas circled, we had bacon sandwiches and tea then headed off for the day to Inverkeith Park and the Botanical Gardens on the northern side of the city.
We were out for most of the day and covered a fair chunk of the place. We fed ducks and swans, watched the old geezers playing with their remote controlled boats on a pond. Some of them were quite good actually. They had working versions of home made replicas of an aircraft carrier and a steam boat, complete with tiny people on deck having a party and a small radio tucked inside the boat so it played music as it sailed.
We bought seeds and fed lots of grey squirrels, saw the first Robin Red Breast I've seen in many years, and spent a while in the tropical centre looking at their palm trees and chilli plants.
So I never got started writing until much later than intended. I had a good evening writing. I hit a sticky patch with Ronnie's current situation, but forced it through to get to the next section. I'm now back with Lennox, still in London, but he's got a lead. Lennox is exciting me. He's smart but not infallible, and he knows it. He has the Glaswegian humour which he uses to good effect on his Cockney colleagues. But he's shady in a good way, like there is so much to know about him that he could never tell. Only actions can bring that out. His working partner, DS Clare Mulholland, is cool, and as sharp as a tack. They work well together, bouncing ideas and strategies about. There's a lot of respect and I'm really enjoying writing about them.
I wrote almost 6k on day 1 of Nano. 5k more and I've done it so if I can finish on an equal high, tomorrow could be the day. Failing that, Tuesday.
Finally, I'd like to say a big congratulations to Devon for completing NaNoWriMo this year. She's the first person I know who is doing that and has completed it. As they say where I come from, "Gaun' yersel' hen!"
NaNo words today: 2474
Saturday, November 18, 2006
Rest Day 1
It was cold outside, the overnight frost melting and leaving slippery conditions underfoot, which I managed to make full use of when I slipped on my arse as I strolled confidently past a full bus stop of Saturday morning shoppers. I swore at the pavement and pointed at the ground, then sheepishly wandered off trying to reclaim my confidence but it never quite happened.
I got a rejection in from One Story. "Dear Writer.... [insert standard one line rejection text here]." The magazine is moving further away from my own direction and I think I'll be removing them from my list. They do have the worst laid out rejection slips I've ever been sent - and I'm an expert on those.
Spent the afternoon doing some crazy things, not NaNo related. Laura wanted a make over but none of her pals were out playing. So I bravely volunteered to slap on some blusher, eyeliner, lipstick, eye shadow and nail varnish. By the end of it she looked like a clown escaped from the local circus. Here she is for your entertainment.
I spent the rest of the afternoon playing with Laura and the animals, cleaning them out and making sure all is ok in the Galbraith Zoo. Darkness fell as we were finishing so the evening was settled in a family fashion in front of the telly and with a home-delivery courtesy of Pizza Hut.
Sad to report that I had my first day with absolutely NO words written towards my novel. I went against all my instincts and aims and decided on a restful day. Although I'm a tad disappointed, it's not going to last for two reasons. First, I needed a break. I was getting into a rut with the manuscript which felt like I had lost some direction and I needed to take stock. Second, I did promise myself I would have a couple of rest days and this is the first I have taken. It's only annoying because I am so close to completing, but I have the full 100k novel to consider in this as well.
NaNo is a cert now. Getting this published is anything but.
NaNo words today: 0
Friday, November 17, 2006
And why are these two old ladies walking about robbing people? What on earth is the world coming to?
My worries about a new temporary place to drink when my office is shifted to the west end were put in their place this morning, when it came to my attention I will be working within a short distance of the Oxford Bar. It's not as close as Clark's is to my current location, but at least I'll have a good bar that I can drink in until I return. No doubt there will be Fridays where I do make the journey back down the road to Clark's to partake in a Friday afternoon sesh, because needs must and old habits die hard.
Today was an extremely long day. Up at 5am and wrote just over 2k before daylight, but by lunchtime I was lagging severely. The afternoon dragged and dragged and I was downing strong coffee just to stay awake. It didn't help that I was the only person in from my team today so I was covering the lot - and there turned out to be a lot to cover. By mid-afternoon the headache had arrived of course and I had to lie down for a bit when I got home. Coffee lesson learnt.
I brought the rabbits and the Guinea pig in for the first time this winter. It was so cold outside I couldn't have left them outside and not worry about them all night. So I stuck Mopsy and Pippin in their original indoor run for the night and constructed a makeshift den for Millie out of a large cardboard box.
Only then could I relax and hit that sack that had been waiting for me all afternoon.
NaNo words today: 2376
Thursday, November 16, 2006
Silly Poems Strikes A Chord
Got some lovely feedback about one of my free ebooks today. I had got into conversation last week with one of the women I work with and we got talking about my writing. She checked out my website from home and came across Silly Poems for Wee People Vol.1 (download it over there <----- ), which she asked for a printed copy of for her daughter. I printed it off yesterday and signed a wee note for her.
This morning her Mum told me that she thought it was "Really good" and that she was "cheesing" about it. Whatever that means.
It doesn't matter who it's from, when someone likes your work you feel awesome. Especially when it's children - the hardest to please and the toughest critics in the world!
I never got much done until the evening. It was a battle to get started, but it was an upward curving slope as I got into it. Some of the prose was just downright awful but that can be changed later. I wanted to break 40k before the weekend and I did. Didn't want to stop by the end of it but had to call it a night eventually.
NaNo words today: 3339
Wednesday, November 15, 2006
No Rights For Criminals
It's a terrible card been dealt for him but it's probably for the best. It's a poetically just way of making him see through the shit to who he is. Only problem is he's still a wanted man, and those people aren't going to change their minds as quickly as Ronnie has changed his.
Work was busy. Still got lots of problems with people who have foreheads made of Teflon. It makes for interesting and frustrating conversations. So then I end up sticking on a Teflon mask and walking away from. Some folk just can't see when you are trying to help them.
The rain tumbled down all day. Heavy, saturating rain that only takes seconds to penetrate your outer defences and get to your skin. Walking home I was amazed to see the rivers that had formed running down Restalrig Road. If only it were salmon season.
Quick question: why do British taxpayers have to foot the bill to pay compensation to drug addicts, who took the Home Office to court for making them go Cold Turkey when they were jailed? What kind of fucked up country are we living in? Read the full story
If I was put in jail would I be able to claim for compensation for missing out on my Wednesday night game of snooker? Or perhaps I should be owed money because I won't be able to go to MacDonalds ever again?
Sorry, but you were put in prison for a reason. You lost your rights when you committed your crime - that's meant to be the punishment. It is not meant to be the beginning of your process of whinging because you can't get your heroin injections or anything else you feel you are owed.
NaNo words today: 1957
Tuesday, November 14, 2006
Managed 800 words before work and 1400 in the evening. Never got anything done during lunch - there was been too much going on today after an overnight drama on one of the systems.
It's funny though while writing the 800 in the morning I didn't really feel like it was going anywhere. In the evening I say for about an hour staring at the last paragraph written, wondering where I was going to take it. I was stuck.
I decided to take my character on a walk through Leith, just to see what would happen and if I could link up to where I knew I needed to be. It was as simple as that. A couple of new characters crossed paths with him and before I knew it the most dramatic and violently upsetting scene was unfolding on the page.
It caught me quite by surprise, but on reflection I think will provide an important catalyst in my MC's development as a person. It will be the definitive point where his fall from grace becomes complete and the only way forward is to analyse what a bastard he has been. In short, my main concern about how I was going to handle the character from start to end was handed to me on a plate, and not in a fashion I would have sat down with an intention to write.
When I was writing Hunting Jack I was upset by some of the things I had to put Jackie through. I felt guilty but knew it had to be. Same here, though what I put Ronnie Glover through last night pales into insignificance against Jackie McCann sleeping rough on the streets.
Finished Knots and Crosses. I'll complete The Flood and make a start on my next Auster novel. I've got that exciting feeling in me at the thought of another one of his books about to enter my head. Can't wait to read it.
Gail made Chicken Tikka Masala for dinner. Yum!
NaNo words today: 2201
Monday, November 13, 2006
Never dreamt anything more about Abi Titmuss last night. Shame. Here's another picture instead.
Work was a nightmare. Dealt with more than the usual number of idiots and twisted procedures. Sometimes I think it would easier to do a back flip with triple pike somersault off of the Forth Bridge and land on my feet, than get things done in that place.
Got another 600 words written over lunch. Would have been more if it weren't for the stupidity highlighted in the last paragraph. So today's tally was less than 2k, but then I am 10k or so above the minimum expected.
NaNo words today: 1396
Sunday, November 12, 2006
Chicken Bhuna = Abi Titmuss
I have no idea why, nor do I care why I dreamt about the magnificent Abi Titmuss last night. It was one of those dreams you wish you could have at will, any night of the year, but if that's what Chicken Bhuna does for me on a Saturday night I'm definitely having more of them.
Rose slightly later this morning, my batteries and life energy getting an excellent recharging this weekend before the early starts for NaNo next week. Half way through week two and progress is still above the target.
Couldn't seem to get warm today at all. When I finally did my hands stayed cold and it was difficult to type. Even with the radiator on full next to my desk I still couldn't get warmed up.
One of my Khoolie Loaches met with a grizzly death. The wee critters resemble eels as they are long and slithery, but they have fins and gils so they are actually fish. They have a natural tendency to burrow, which is good for the gravel in the tank as they turn it over, but they can disappear for days even months on end without being seen, happy to live under the wee stones and rocks.
It was Laura who spotted it, lying inside my lump of lava rock, colourless and still. I tried to nudge it with the net but it wouldn't move, and even other fish swimming over it couldn't disturb it. Eventually I put my hand in and stroked it. Nothing. So I tugged at its tail. It still wouldn't budge. After quite a lot of pulling and tugging it finally came free. Dead.
The poor wee thing had burrowed into one of the holes in the lava rock and got its head stuck. Unable to free itself and probably in some amount of distress, it died where it was. The lava rock is not only a home to several of the fish, it has also become a monument, commemorating the life and death of one of my Khoollies.
Started work on Slick before lunch. I looked at my chapter synopsis and realised I am racing through it again. With just under half way to go, I am once again running out of story. But I'm also on an easier roll so I wasn't sure whether to go back and pad out or to carry on blind.
I carried on, because I feel the padding required may involve larger new sections of the story being added, not just a few descriptive passages or sections of dialogue. I also have developed a habit of moving the story on by missing chunks out that seem irrelevant in order to keep up the tension and drama. For instance, instead of going round several flats to look for a place to rent, we join the MC as he finds the best one and has settled in. Things like this need thought more about.
I came to one particular section of the story as detailed above, where the time between the two chapters is at least a couple of weeks. In my original plan I intended to skip straight over, but now I've given myself license to go where I want with it. I'm not going to plan what happens in the two week period to my MC, so I know I'm taking a risk. I have to get back on the path before the end, but by doing this I may end up so much off course I could end up re-writing the end of the book!
Who said this NaNo wasn't a challenge or an experiment. Might as well go where the words take me!
NaNo words today: 3826 (a 6K weekend!)
Saturday, November 11, 2006
Armistice Day. A day for us to remember all those men and women who bravely fought and gave their lives for our freedom in the First World War. A day to remember all those who sacrificed in any war in our country's name. And a thought kept back for those still serving in hostile locations around the word today, least not Iraq and Afghanistan.
Gail did the honours with Laura this morning so no coffee, pastry, bookshops, research or aquarium centre. So I got caught up with some sleep. I rose mid-morning and had some coffee to get my heart started, then settled down to the computer to begin the second half of the NaNo challenge.
Then the door burst open. My FIL had arrived. End of peace. End of house not filled with cigar smoke. Oh happy day, oh glory be.
Managed to write over my daily goal so I was well pleased and in between cleaned out the hutches and gave all the animals a run in the garden. Finished up and got ready for beer and curry in the evening over in Musselborough. A nice end to a productive day, despite only getting a couple of hours actual writing time overall. On target for another 5k weekend though.
NaNo words today: 2246
Friday, November 10, 2006
Picking Up The Pace Again
By lunchtime things had improved, thanks to Clark's Bar no less. Two pints of Guinness with Dave went down a treat before heading back into the myre.
Poured with rain and blew a gale all afternoon so I was delighted to get home - soaking, but home. Made some spicy rice for dinner and played with Laura. Spent the evening working on Slick. It's coming easier again. I broke the half way mark with the novel, (NaNo numbers only), so I'm now over 25,000 words.
Ten days to get to 50% and a quarter of the way through the novel as a whole. I'm pleased. 2000 words a day from now on in will see me crossing the finishing post on the 24th.
Finished the night off watching a Jamiroquai live performance from the Camden Jazz Cafe, a place of several wonderful drunken memories over the years.
NaNo words today: 2113
Thursday, November 09, 2006
Digging Up The Words
I'm sure that was my body crying out to get some rest before I make myself ill. It worked, though last night at snooker my right wrist was in agony. It's only a dull pain most of the time, but if I catch it the right way (like when holding a snooker cue) the pain shoots through my wrists, up my forearm and I lose all power in the muscles. It's almost like a cramp but more acute. I tried shaking it off, but I just looked like P Diddy in one of his music videos.
Updated my NaNo chart this morning. I never realised it would skip a day so it now looks like I went yesterday without doing anything! Not happy. Not happy at all.
Work was hectic but managed to get a few words written over lunch. Decided when I got home I would try and get to the 25k mark by the end of the night. Never happened but I managed to get to over 23k.
For some reason the chapter I was working on was proving problematic. It needs research into a subject I know little about and that I never foresaw happening in the original concept. Now it has to happen and I tried to do write through it - but it still wouldn't happen So I decided I would do the research afterwards, foregoing quality in place of quality. I have a fear that something I write will impact what happens after, despite me trying to convince myself this is a stand-alone chapter.
What's the subject matter? The exhumation of human remains.
I wrapped up what I could of the chapter, leaving holes galore, which I will go back and fill out at a later date when I have the information.
NaNo words today: 1488
Wednesday, November 08, 2006
A Slower Day
Week 1 of NaNoWriMo is now behind me so I think I should take time to take a look back and reflect on what has been.
My daily target before all this began was 2k per day. I met that every days except one (I was 30 words short so I ain't going to cry). My total for the week is 21,155 words, 7155 over the weekly target, achieved by both an explosive start on day one and over 5k over the weekend. If I stick to this, I should reach the 50k by day 18.
* Worrying that the plot was unfolding too quick.
* Very tired by the time it gets to the evening.
* Wrist and back starting to hurt.
* Not as much connection in the local lounge of the forum.
* I'm enjoying writing the story I prepared.
* My word count is way ahead of my target.
* I'm proving to myself I can meet a heavy "deadline".
* My wpm on the keyboard has gone through the roof.
* My overall feeling of "life happiness" is spilling over.
To Take Into Week 2
* The 5am starts are working. Creativity is more positive in the morning, even if it has to be kick started on the harder days. Need to schedule in slower days to balance it out.
* Not being afraid to go back and edit/pad out is keeping the plot strong and thus giving me the motivation to keep going. It seems to be the story that's driving me now, not so much the NaNo challenge (60-40%).
* Keep aiming for 2k per day, but if it goes over just keep going as long as the drive is there and I want to.
* Don't push it over the 2k if it's not going well. Keep poor sections of prose to a minimum.
* Do not go a day without writing anything. Could be fatal.
One of the minor characters from earlier in the story is nipping slowly at my muse. I think he may have a larger part to play in the outcome of this novel before the end is reached.
Work was unusually busy so I never got anything written over lunch. Got home early from work and was so tired I went to bed for an hour before snooker. Won 5-3 and had a few pints of Guinness, which went straight for me since I was so tired. So there was a lot of thinking done about Slick today, but not a lot got written.
NaNo words today: 624
Tuesday, November 07, 2006
On The Radio
There is one thing that has annoyed me about getting up at 5am to write. The radio is full of pish DJ's. I imagine most people (me anyway) would rather listen to music than a couple of boring unintelligent morons prattling on and on and on about how wonderful their lives are because they got a backstage pass at the X-Factor Live gig. What's wrong with playing music? I was sure DJ stood for Disc Jockey - not Deranged Conversationalist.
Normally I listen to Terry Wogan on BBC Radio 2, but occasionally I'll tune over to Chris Moyles on BBC Radio 1. Wogan is the undisputed king of radio, but at least Moyles is funny, unlike the boring Scottish morning DJ's from independent stations who have nothing to say at all. The inane laughing that comes over is enough to make you put your head through the bus stop window.
The problem is, Wogan and Moyles don't begin until 7am, which is when I arrive into the office. So I spend most of my journey with the radio off or scanning channels just to find anything remotely interesting. This morning it was Classic FM. Relaxing and not in anyway annoying.
Got circa 2k written early doors over breakfast and during my lunch break. Well pleased with that. It set me up for writing the evening so that anything I did after that would be a bonus towards the daily goal.
Priorities and perspectives is something talked about a lot during NaNo, whether between writing and external factors, or between different areas within the writing sphere. NaNo has helped me look at some things differently. For example, I am writing early morning, midday and in the evening every day just now and my word count is through the roof. Does that mean I am more productive? Or is the NaNo Factor coming into play and making me prioritise everything to suit the novel?
I think it's a bit of both. I'm making the time and doing it no matter what, and as a result I am very productive. This is not to say I am less productive in other months, I just have other things to work on. I have cleared the deck for November to do this, but I also have other things I do throughout the year, which just because they do not contribute to a word count, does not mean I am any less productive.
So what to take from this thought? I think I need to prioritise more early mornings, put more time aside then even when NaNo is not on. I also need to understand and not beat myself up over the fact last month's output was crap, and remember I spent a lot of time promoting my work and doing research.
It can't all be about sitting writing. There has to be a balance.
NaNo words today: 2658
Monday, November 06, 2006
Good Bad Good Bad And So It Goes
Slightly warmer climate over the east of the country today. Perhaps it's due to all the bonfires still smoking away in the streets. Arthur's Seat caught fire after a firework went astray last night and set fire to it, causing 1500 revellers to be evacuated off the top. Arthur's Seat (real name Salisbury Crags), is an extinct volcano - I thought it would have been able to handle a bit of heat?!
Zukoto is back. They must have renewed their domain or something. All my WIP graphics are now back up and running, I'm please to say.
I ran through the entire manuscript today as planned and did a lot of padding. There is stuff I will probably edit out by the end but for the time being it's all staying in. I've got more consistency with the characters, though most of that doubt turned out only to be in my own head and not on the paper. I think i was just losing the trail a wee bit.
I'm noticing a trend with NaNo. Although my word count is good - better than I was budgeting for, in fact - I seem to experience a good day followed by a harder day followed by a good day and so on. I seem to have to fight to get into it on the odd days, and it flows so much easier the next. I've not figured out why that is, tiredness, or perhaps a natural rhythm my body/mind has settled into. If I have a bad day I want to try harder the next to make up for it. Next day I maybe relax a little more because the previous was so good. Or maybe I'm just thinking about it too much because overall I feel I am doing not bad at keeping it all going.
I've always had a tendency to analyse things. Maybe this is just an extension of that and I shouldn't read too much into. One thing is for sure, I'm enjoying the challenge.
NaNo words today: 2469
Sunday, November 05, 2006
Guy Fawkes Is Dead
I dreamt some weird stuff. I was on a golf course with a stag party and they were all very dull people. It was the golf course you could see from my bedroom window when I was growing up - I told you about it a few days ago. Then we were in London, down at the Docklands, and I was in an elevator with the stag party going somewhere. They were so boring by this point I jumped out and locked them in. Then I ran off laughing.
I don't know what it means but I know the source. Golf course - after talking about my home town and the views from my window last week, I printed off the winter image and stuck it up on my desk here and at work. I listened to The Wall and Stella as well, so I think my mind was just in the zone for it.
Stag party? Probably down to me badly needing a night out with my mates.
London Docklands; that's where Ronnie lives - I've been writing about it and other parts of London since I began work on Slick.
Elevator? My mind is telling me to jump off at the next floor and take some time to relax. So I did - I relaxed in bed until 10am.
After coffee and eggs with toast, I got back to work. I wrote some new stuff but it was coming slow. Again I had some research to do which accounted for some of the time, but I also started to feel I was losing my way. I feel as if the plot is moving just that little bit too quick.
The way things stand, I am on target to write somewhere just over 90,000 words by November 30th. Which is excellent, though it won't happen in reality. Two reasons: first, it will be impossible to keep up this level of energy, and second I get the feeling I'm going top run out of story!
I'm approaching the half way point of the story, and I've not even hit the 20k mark yet. Worrying, both for the NaNo challenge as well as the novel itself.
So I went back and began reading objectively. I know the purpose of NaNo is quantity over quality, but I don't want to work that way. Not even sure I can. I know I can reach the 50k, the last few days have proved that, but I need to make sure the story is coming out the way I need it to if I am to be able to concentrate fully and remain involved with it 100 per cent. I need to make sure everything is explained (or not explained), and I need to be sure that the characters are not getting lost within it.
Therefore, I think some padding is required. Tomorrow I shall devote one day to reading the story afresh with all these objectives in mind. There is padding needed, so it will be interesting to see how many words come out of it by doing this. But I think it needs to be done before I move forward.
I'm really getting sick of fireworks. All week we have had missiles and bombs raining down from us from all sides, which is not only a pain in the arse at 11.30pm when you're getting up at 5am, but it's scaring the bejeezus out of all our animals.
Things took a turn for the worse tonight when the fire service were called out three times to a street over the other side of the walkway to us. I could see if from our landing window. Wee neds continually set fire to the bracken and let off fireworks - damn loud ones - because they are hidden from sight. That's where they go drinking, drive their motorbikes and do all their drugs as well. Like we don't know you are there assholes!
They are causing a major nuisance to everyone in the neighbourhood. In the blustery wind the fires could easily have spread taken hold and blown over to our property, so I'm not just being a cantankerous bugger by going on like this. It's a danger.
Tonight Leith sounded like a war zone for about five hours. Constant thundering cracking noises well after the legal time limit. And no doubt it will go on still for the next few nights until all the discount firework shops (only open this time of year) have sold out to these wee fuds.
Happy Guy Fawkes!
NaNo words today: 1970
Saturday, November 04, 2006
Progress Is Inevitable
I've reached the point in Slick where Ronnie has his flashback nightmare. I thought about it in bed last night but couldn't really concentrate or come up with anything suitable, what with the blinding headache. I tried to let my head empty and swear once I did, I could feel the headache lessen. Maybe my body is trying to tell me something.
Thankfully I remembered to buy coffee on the way home last night so this morning got off to a great start. I wrote for about an hour before heading to the coffee shop and scribbling out the dream sequence longhand. I got a full chapter down on it. Much, much better.
I was thinking about why my word count and motivation might be higher for this NaNoWriMo thing than other times in the year when I have lots of other writing to work on. I came to the conclusion it's all about deadlines. The 30th November deadline to write 50k is a tough one, but if it weren't there, would I really be getting up at 5am to write?
Last year when I was having trouble finalising the manuscript for Fringe Fantastic, Devon said I should place a deadline on it. I did - December 2nd - and suddenly everything started moving. If left to just get on with things, I get through them, but without the added pressure so they seem to happen slower, and perhaps, I suffer creatively from the lack of stimulation.
So there are two outcomes from this. First, I'm placing deadlines on everything I do from now on (if applicable). My 2007 GDR will contain more deadlines. Secondly, I intend to use the NaNo experience and develop it into my every day writing routine. In other words, the early starts will probably become more regular than not.
I was ordered - yes ordered - out of the ground floor of the house so Gail could tidy the house after lunch. Not being one to want to get in the way of my wife's domesticated desires I obliged and did a few of things.
First I introduced the new fish I got for my aquarium this morning to the rest of my wee fishy community. Two Khoolie Loaches and two Krebensis, the latter beautiful wee fish, the former, funny eel-like things. I watched them for a while and fed them then got on with cleaning out the hutches. The rabbits were stinking, and I mean stinking as in the most severe use of the word imagineable. I think they were happy to get the run around but there must have been a tonne of jobbies in their home.
Then I got down to some more writing. The dream sequence was typed up and the following chapter put to rest as well. There was a fair bit of research involved, mostly map and location searching through London, but my A to Z and www.yell.co.uk soon had me noting down the information I required. Progress is inevitable. But it's hard going.
NaNo words today: 3103
Friday, November 03, 2006
I wonder if it is wise to try to manage the creative flame?
I'm really enjoying getting up early. 5:15am this morning and I was writing by 5:35 (with tea and toast - forgot the damn coffee again!). When I come home I'm tired at night, but still charged, some nights I'll manage a few thousand words, other nights little or none. I know if I carry on like this during NaNo I may risk burning out and grinding to a halt, so how do I manage the creative flame?
The way I feel today, I'll get up at 5am, tomorrow, write until about 8am, get Laura up and take her to dancing. Then I'll sit in the coffee shop and write some more. Maybe in the afternoon I will manage a few words and in the evening I know I'll get time since I have no social plans. But is this wise? Should I not put aside some rest time, because I wonder if by doing this I will be contributing to my downfall later on, and that maybe I should chill after working hard during the week, maybe watch some TV and get a pizza.
But when the urge is there, I believe it has to be acted upon. The urge to write is more powerful than many things on this earth - for me anyway - and when it comes, it must be listened to and nurtured. So while I'm in the seam of high motivation, I should make the best of it.
I feel so charged at the moment, relishing the early starts, the writing that comes with it and the feeling of brain-bursting creativity before dawn, I'm just going to keep going no matter what happens. In the first three days of this month, I've already written more words of fiction than I have done in any other month this year. It puts what I've been doing into some kind of perspective. But even when the hard times come, which I know they will, I must keep going. To quote one of Britain's finest men, Sir Winston Churchill; "If you're going through Hell, keep going."
The Zukuto Wordmeter I use to track my word progress seems to have gone down overnight. "Account suspended" according to the domain host. So I have no graphics to display my Work In Progress. If you spot any free word meter utilities anywhere can you drop me a line so I can put it back up?
Moira Allen at Writing World asked these questions in her newsletter today, aimed at questioning if your writing dreams are different from the path you have taken.
1) Am I having fun, or am I bored? Are my tasks challenging and rewarding, or do I constantly have that "been there, done that" feeling?
Oh I'm having fun alright! I'm enjoying my fiction, poetry and doing NaNo. I've been getting published and have a new book coming out. I've not experienced the "been there, done it" feeling, yet. I like to keep things fresh and new, but how long that lasts is anyone's guess.
2) Am I benefiting from this path or getting less from it than I hoped? Is it providing something useful in terms of skill, reputation, or income - or am I stuck in tasks that aren't helping me grow much as a writer?
I'll let my GDR summary of the year sum it up when it arrives. I know I am not stuck and I know I am getting a lot from my work, particularly this year when I have really pushed myself these last few months. I've made myself step out the comfort zone and benefited greatly.
3) Is this path contributing to my ultimate ability to follow my dream path, or leading me farther from my dreams?
Undoubtedly. I'm going in the right direction, learning, evolving and progressing every day.
4) Has my dream path changed? Do I still want to follow the dream I originally had, or have I discovered a new dream?
Unchanged. I'm pretty single-minded when t comes to what I want to do. How I get there is the variable.
5) How long do I want to follow this path? What do I still hope to achieve on this path, and how will I know if and when it may be time to change directions?
Until I die. I want to achieve success in what I love doing - writing. I'll know I'm there when I look back and not before.
6) If I want to change paths in the future - whether to return to my original dream or to follow a new dream - what is my exit strategy? What steps will I need to take, and what might I need to change or give up?
I don't forsee changing paths in the near future, but if I have to for some unforeseen circumstance, I guess I'll rearrange things to suit my life, what's happening in it and with my goals in mind.
I was shattered when I got home and after spending the day in front of a computer screen for the best part of ten hours, I took a couple of hours off to have dinner and watch some TV. A massive headache came on, so I never managed to wrote anything else. Good day though.
NaNoWriMo words today: 2931
Daily NaNoWriMo Progress
Thursday, November 02, 2006
I had tea instead, with my usual two slices of wholemeal toast then started reading through yesterday's output. Some of it isn't bad. In fact it improves as the prose progresses during the day. There'll be a lot of editing to be done when all this is done and dusted, a lot of padding and cutting, but what I have so far I'm pleased with. I don't want to rattle words out for the sake of it. I want to produce the story through decent prose, in line with the plan, thinking what I'm doing and hopefully that way I can achieve a half-decent first draft as well as completing the NaNo challenge.
The novel is budgeted for circa 100,000 words. NaNo is (only?) for 50,000 so by the end of November, if I've completed NaNo, I will have half a manuscript. I'm wondering if I can get the full manuscript completed by the end of December? Hmmm, doubtful with it being the season to be jolly etc. but hopefully by the end of the year I'll have an almost completed manuscript.
Day 2 total = 2138 words. Over my budget, so well on target. In fact, I'm twice as far ahead as where I expected to be.
Devon Ellington tagged me for five interesting things you never knew about me. I've done this one before so I had to dig deep into my memory and decide what to reveal and what not to. So here they are. Whether you find them interesting is another matter -
1- When I had hair, it was ginger.
2- I once tried to sneeze while under the water in the bath, and nearly drowned myself.
3- A police horse once attacked me at Hampden Park before a Scotland football international match. It ruined my suede jacket that at the time, I thought was very cool.
4- I once fell out of a first floor window while attending a student party in a flat just off Charing Cross in Glasgow. I landed on two passing policeman who were attending a complaint about the noise at the same party.
5- I once caught a friend of mine urinating in my kitchen sink while it was full of dishes. In revenge, I stole his spare house key, took the day off work, entered his house, ate all his cheese, bread and crisps, watched a few DVD's, sliced his tub of Flora margarine in half horizontally, scooped out an oval hole, defecated in said hole, replaced the top, sellotaped it together and put it back in his fridge. He phone me to "complain" two days later.
Daily NaNoWriMo Progress
Wednesday, November 01, 2006
A Flying Start
Got up at 5.30am (the alarm went off at 5am but I was still dead). I showered, dressed and made the coffee so that by 6am on the dot I was turning on the laptop and opening the blank manuscript for Slick. It felt magic to be finally sitting down and getting the project onto paper.
The first sentence came easily: "The man slurped from a cup of strong coffee." (That's all yer getting). But maybe that's because I've had the first couple of chapters pre-written inside my head for a while now.
I wrote 11 pages before work and during lunch (3140 words), so not a bad start! I'm aiming for an average of 2000 words per day. That would work out as 60,000 words be November 30th if I kept to it. Taking into account the bad days I'm bound to have, I'll need to get ahead of the game if I'm to do it. That means more good days as well as a good start.
Using my chapter synopsis is helping me stay on track with the story, but already I've found myself swaying off course. There is ALREADY a new character involved, who I just know is going to have a say in the final outcome. I knew it would happen, but there's nothing I can do to stop it. Once they are in my head they have a life force. Once on the page, they have a presence and a human quality. Unless I kill them off - muwah, muwah!
I left work early and nipped home for an hours kip to revive myself after a hard day before I went out to snooker. I had set my alarm for 6pm, but at 5.45pm Gail called - Ian had done his back in. While I hate to see the old bugger in pain and hear of his discomfort, the silver lining of this particular dark cloud was I could have a non-rushed dinner then resume Slick in the evening.
I turned out another couple of thousand words before I knew it. I was totally engrossed in it, carried away without disturbance and able to concentrate fully. By ten o'clock I had brought my final first day total to 5886, an equivalent of almost three days average word count I had been aiming for. When the bad days come, I'll have a nice wee cushion to fall back on.
A website of note that was launched yesterday, and worth checking out is : City of Literature
Now here's the autumnal work plan!
This month obviously only has one theme taking over everything else - NANO!!
* NANOWRIMO - Slick - 50,000 words before midnight on 31st
* Publish Poolside Poetry
* Begin work on Scotland's Treasure for January column - Spotlight on Aberfoyle. Locality, history, what it offers, getting to etc. Might include the Blockheads gig review
* Carry out interview with Scottish poet
Marketing and Promotion
* Prepare and submit press release for Poolside Poetry
* Complete cross-promotion with Fife B&B for Fringe Fantastic
* Follow up meeting with owner of Elves Shakespeare bookshop
* Keep website up to date
Reading and Research
* Finish reading The Flood and Knots and Crosses by Ian Rankin
* Start reading The Brooklyn Follies by Paul Auster
* Start reading John Harvey novel
* Stay on top of editorial work for TSDR
Daily NaNoWriMo Progress