Saturday, November 13, 2010

On a Roll!

Okay, so another reset, and a modified plot and a new voice and the words suddenly just started flowing. I know it's generally considered bad to hit the big reset button during NaNo, but I'd completely lost my footing, and couldn't get motivated to write.

I started today, in a free moment at work, and the words just poured forth. A new voice for my MC meant a whole new way of talking about the world, and a whole new direction. Everything seemed to click this time around, and I'm actually excited to continue working. Which is something I never managed to do in the last version of this story.

In the end, I suppose only time will tell if I made the right decision.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

When the Work Day Is Over

Last week, while at work, I was able to write. My work location gave me the ability to keep my laptop running on a desk while I worked, and I could write when there was no work to be done. It worked out well, and I got quite a bit done. But now, different tasks, and different working locations means no time to write, and nowhere to keep the laptop. And, because I work long hours and shift work, I'm left with little or no time to write when I get home.

So, my writing is suffering. In years past, I've always compensated for my lack of ability to write while working by writing double on my days off. It's a workable system, at very least, and it's brought me to three wins from four attempts. But now, I'm looking at a target that seems oh so far away, we're approaching the half way point, and I'm not even close to half way through my word count.

I suppose it's all be worsened by the fact that I started over, and left my original story behind to pursue a new and more exciting one. Part of me doesn't even want to do that. Really, I would love to sink my teeth back into a mainstream fiction concept, but if I always write the same thing, then I will never grow as a writer.

With every passing moment, the deadline grows closer and closer. and I want to finish, and I want to win. But it will be a hard push to make it from here. But, all I can do is try...

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

That's a big no no

So, I finally reached a point where my story irritated me so much, and another one tantalised me so much that I just couldn't ignore it anymore. Well, I gave up on my original story... I know, I know, it's the complete wrong thing to be doing, but I just couldn't motivated myself to write anything more on the original story. I imagine I will eventually go back to it, and give it a decent attempt at completion, but right now, my mind is passionate about the second story I had lined up for NaNoWriMo.

So where does that leave me? Well, a long way behind. I've managed to scrape out just shy of 6000 words in the last two days, and if I can maintain this pace, I will be heading for success, but I'm going back to work tonight, and that means that I won't be able to write much for the next six days. So yeah, I think I'm in trouble. I'm in especially deep trouble if I still think I can write 100000 words this november, like to say, finish this story and actually get back to my original one and finish that one too.

I could be underestimating myself here, or I could be overestimating the time sucking effects of the other things in my life. But ultimately, I'm actually starting to get very nervous about finishing NaNo this year. I know that I want to, and I know that I should, but that little part of me that is filled with self doubt has recently gone from a quiet little whisper to shouting at the top of its lungs. Yeah, I think it's going to be a rough month.

Monday, November 8, 2010


So, one of my muses read what I have written so far, and was impressed. Now, she hasn't read anything I've written before, so it did give me sort of a boost. But, ultimately, this post isn't about how various people in my life enable my ego. This is about Editors.

She gave me a few hints as to what I should add, or change, and it got me thinking about the nature of editors. Every time I hear people talk about editors, they don't really have a whole lot of nice things to say. Admittedly I don't have a real editor, but I actually look forward to getting any sort of criticism, it lets me know if I'm on the right track. She only made a few suggestions, and came up with a few tweaks to the styling, but it still makes me wonder how people can get so frazzled at being told the ways in which their novel doesn't make the grade.

The only possible thing that I can think of is maybe the idea that being told that maybe they aren't quite good enough just yet damages their precious ego. But to people who can't take being told that they need to fix something, need to work on their novel some more before it's finished, I have only one thing to say: Get over yourself!

Seriously, every author gets revisions back from their Editors. Every author has to revise, and rewrite. Every author doesn't get it right the first time. I read, a lot, and when I read advice from published author's on how to get published, they all say the same thing. Every piece of work needs revision, and getting help from someone who reviews work for a living is the best way to ensure you aren't wasting your time.

Well, I've had my rant, so, I'm signing off now. Enjoy.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

On the Strange topic of Muses

For those who read my blog regularly, I am very sorry for missing a day, my real life interfered once again, a response to a much appreciated comment from a regular reader contains the details for those interested. But, as I said in my last post, I'm not going to be discussing my challenging times this post, I'm going to be discussing muses.

When I read through the NaNoWriMo forum boards, it seems to me that for most people, their muse is an arbitrary, imaginary figure in their world, either in their head, or something else. But for me, my muse is a real person. Well, no, that's not exactly true, because I have two muses. And both of them are real people. They are both women in my life who have in some way inspired ideas in my mind. They share their thoughts, and their ideas, and although I never actual use their comments directly in my stories, I have on many occasions, discovered a new plot twists that has helped to complete my stories, after listening to the suggestions they have.

Now, if these two women figure out that this is about them (well, one of them knows already) then I'm sorry, but sometimes inspiration is fickle, namely, my muses are fickle. They are both significant in my life in some way, one my wife, and the other someone I would consider a good friend (and I hope that she feels the same way). And when I remain uninspired by the two of them, I'm sure I'm not the easiest person to live with, but when they can't offer some sort of criticism, or comment on my work, it really frustrates me. Especially when they attempt to smooth over the wrinkles in my ego, telling me that my work is good when I know that it's terrible. How is telling me that my work is good ever going to help me get better?

I've gotten off track, and I'm sorry, the reason I wrote this was because I wanted to know how you all feel about muses. Are your muses real or imagined? Are they fickle, harsh, or sometimes downright useless? However you feel about your muse (or any other source of inspiration you care to share), please, share it with us all, and let the discussion that ensues be a fascinating and friendly one.

Friday, November 5, 2010

AHHH, Sombody stole my day!

Okay, so, no one's actually stolen a day off of me, but it certainly feels that way. I had well founded intentions of writing many thousands of words today, and of getting imense amounts of work done, and of writing this post at a reasonable hour so that I could still call it today, and not, at the last minute. But, somewhere along the line, the day disappeared into a sleep deprived haze of work, and volunteer commitments. Now it's late, and I'm without time, and without a word count, and without any evidence of having put effort into my writing today...

In a perfect world, all I would have to do would be maintain some semblence of a social life, and write. But, unfortunately, I have bills to pay, and commitments to keep, etc. etc. etc. Maybe if I could actually manage to get more than four hours sleep a night, or if I had an extra six or so hours in the day to get everything done.

Well, that officially makes it two days in a row without having done much work, leaving me, as I said yesterday, 6668 words behind my two novel target, or in the best case scenario, 3334 words behind a single novel target...

I promise that tomorrow I won't write about how hard I am having it, I even have a topic I find interesting, or at very least, amusing to talk about...

Thursday, November 4, 2010

I Don't Ever Remember There Being A Wall Here Before...

Okay, so, today didn't quite go as planned...

After making the plan to write 3334 words per day and aim for that awe inspiring target of writing two novels this november, I had my first official down day. I didn't get as much sleep as I should have last night, and had to go to work this morning. I spent the day in a daze, and got maybe a few hundred words written if I'm lucky. I'm going to keep going tonight, let me assure you, but it doesn't change the fact that it feels like I've hit the wall already. And it's only day 4! If that wasn't bad enough, my psyche has decided to lock up the rest of my story behind a steel wall, and only tease me with insubstantial details. Needless to say, It hasn't been a good day...

I love writing, I really do, but sometimes, it is the absolute last thing that I want to do when I look at my laptop. I have to keep reminding myself that it's about discipline, and routine, and making an effort to do some work every day. But then every time I even look at my novel, all I can think is how good it felt to take a break last night and re-watch season 1 of Dexter last night with my wife and a friend of ours.

Hopefully I'm over this before tomorrow, or I'll find myself in real trouble, being 6668 words behind doesn't really appeal to me all that much...

Days Remaining: 26
Words Remaining: 38779 / 88779

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

The Great Annual Spreadsheet

So, last night at work, I tackled the annual spreadsheet. I always spreadsheet my NaNo writing. I can't see any other way to hit my targets than to schedule out my words per day, and just write something every day, hoping to hit those targets. I'll post a screen shot of my spreadsheet at some stage, but that's not really what I'm writing about it for.

The reason I've decided to mention it here is because, I still don't like my story. And for some insane reason, I've decided that it's not fair to stop this story and start again just because I've had another idea (I've actually had several now), so I'm going to finish this one. The reason this is insane is because, I've also decided that I want to write another story this month. Another NaNo challenge for myself. Yeah, I know, crazy, as if 50,000 words wasn't enough of a daunting task. So on my spreadsheet, my daily required word count isn't 1667, its 3334. Like I said, crazy.

The good news is that if I can knock off this story in its normal 50,000 words by the 15th, then I should, theoretically have enough time to repeat it and write a second novel. Of course, I assume that I won't have let go of my last shred of sanity, and decided that the world is better off if I burn it to the ground. That last scenario, I reckon I could get at least 50/50 odds on it happening you know...

Well, clearly I've lost my mind, even more so than most NaNoers, but, at least I'm not giving up right?

Days Remaining: 27
Words Remaining: 39678 / 89678 (crap that's a lot of words...)

Monday, November 1, 2010

Why did I even bother

Have you ever been writing along, and realised that your work is absolute crap? I don’t just mean bad, I mean quite possibly the most self indulged, grammatically poor, worst laid out, boring, dull, dreary, characterless story that has every existed? Truly, and utterly crap? Well, I have, several times now.
In my first nano, this wasn’t really that much of a problem. I decided to write a mainstream fiction story, and whenever I would get bogged down in something not so interesting, something that just slowed down the pace of the story, I would cut to the chase, literally. Whatever my next action sequence was, that is what I would cut too. And it was good, or at least so I’m told. I’m told that it was engaging, and exciting, and gripping, and interesting, and most of all, fun. It was everything a good mainstream fiction should be. I even managed to make my wife cry when I killed off a main character, and again in the final scene held in a cemetery. I’m actually quite proud of those two.
My second attempt, wasn’t so successful, and to be honest, I can’t even remember what I was trying to write. I actually didn’t even manage to make my 50,000 words. I suspect that I changed stories multiple times during the month and therefore couldn’t make the word count, despite having on regular occasions pulled out well over 10-15 thousand words in a single day. 
My third attempt was a poor, poor, really really poor, science fiction attempt. It made 50,000 words, but I’ve since dumped it into the bottom of a drawer (metaphorically, its actually in a  zip file hidden somewhere obscure on my hard drive), and haven’t touched it since. I mean, really really bad. But, I had to try it, I loved the idea of writing a science fiction, even if I couldn’t pull it off, or even come up with a decent concept to base my story on.
My fourth attempt was good, or at least, once again, that’s what I’m told, but I never actually finished the story. I was writing a murder mystery, and I had an interesting killer, with an interesting technique, and an interesting plot development that was going to eventually finish with the hero finding out who the killer was, and have one final plot twist at the end, just for good measure. Because I never finished the book, there is no way for me to say whether or not it was worthy of the praise my wife gave me in writing it.
Now I’m on my fifth attempt and I’m going back to science fiction. It’s a good concept, in a good world, with an actual story to tell. The only problem, it’s still horrible. I’m four and a half thousand words into the story, and I’m hating every word I’m putting onto paper. My first fifteen hundred words were excellent, and my wife thoroughly enjoyed the way the scene played out. But ever since then, I’ve not been able to write anything worth reading. 
I know nano is all about turning off your inner editor, and just letting the story you have inside of you out, putting it onto paper, good or bad, and enjoying the challenge. But there is still this part of me that says: “No Ian, this is terrible work, you must give it up and try something better!”
It’s only my second day of NaNo 2010, and already I want to scrap what I’ve got and start again. I’ve even been tempted to become a NaNo Rebel and try rewriting my original story again, but only this time, with more actual story to tell. I don’t think I will do that, but it doesn’t change my extreme desire to scrap everything past my first fifteen hundred words  and try again... I suppose even then, if I did that, what would I put in its place? pudding? I should think not. I’ve got no other idea to put in place of the terrible work I’m putting into the story now. 
Every year I think this is a good idea, and then, as with this year, a day or so in I begin to wonder why I put myself through it. And I want to become a published author? Ha! I clearly don’t have the backbone. Now I just have to figure out what the rest of my story is going to be filled with if it isn’t going to be the tripe that’s coming out of me at the moment... I hope you are all having better luck than I. 

Days Remaining: 28
Words Remaining: 44670