The State of the Novel

It’s been a loooong while since I did any kind of post talking about my novel-in-progress (currently titled Fire Sworn) but that’s simply because it has been a long-ass time since I even really worked on the novel properly. My motivation to write got thoroughly shot in the face back in early December when my uncle died after battling cancer for 18 months. That loss has obviously devastated my whole family and even now two months later it’s still pretty raw.

That emotional factor plus my extreme frustration at my slow progress in working through this “second” draft has made me deeply dissatisfied with my entire novel. There’s been more than one occasion where I’ve contemplated just abandoning the whole damn thing, bugger the two years I’ve spent on it so far and the 90,000+ words I’ve written for the first book, parts of a prequel novella, and even scenes from the second book.

I don’t have many writing projects that I’ve spent much time on, hell save for my 2010 & 2014 Nano projects this is the only writing project I’ve ever done where I’ve got almost a complete draft written. I have a story idea that I worked on when I was 16 that I wrote a lot of notes on and I’d drafted various random scenes- even the end battle sequence (because I am a nightmare writer who thinks of endings before beginnings) but I never had a cohesive draft plotted out or written. Maybe one day I’ll go back to that idea and actually write it properly.

If I were to consign Fire Sworn to the drawer of abandoned ideas I fear that it would effectively cripple my ability to finish a future writing project. But how do I find my way back to loving my novel and actually finishing this draft?

Stop fannying about with line edit nonsense would be a good first step. I’ve realised that I’ve wasted a lot of time since last July making changes on a sentence level rather than attacking chapters on the higher plot & character levels. If I focused on rewriting the sections of the first draft which are glaringly wrong at this stage and writing the chapters which I still have yet to write then I might get somewhere with the novel.

I wonder if I should be trying to work in speedier passes of going through the whole manuscript working on a specific issue rather than spending weeks picking through a single chapter and then getting angry at my lack of progress. There are chapters of my first draft that I’ve not read since I wrote them in 2014 so how the hell can I have a good idea of what I need to change in my second draft unless I know what I’ve already written? Despite the missing chapters in the middle I have most of the story thought out but I need to figure out what I need to revise & develop in order to make this novel into a cohesive book that I won’t be ashamed to send to critique partners (If I find some) or agents (if I’m brave enough).

It’s going to be a long road back to the happy place I was at with my novel but maybe if I’m lucky I’ll stumble upon a good map to lead me there.

Ray x

Deadlines? Ugh.

I have a French TMA due tomorrow. It is not finished yet and I ran out of fucks to give about 3 weeks ago. This is a rather troubling position to be in as this is only the first of 5 TMAs and while this one is only formative and will not count to my overall grade I really should care more right?

The thought has occurred to me that I just don’t like studying French this way. I love being able to speak the language and have conversations with actual French people – I never did talk about my trip to Paris in detail but I spoke French to every person except my boyfriend which is something I am proud of – but I really dislike studying really arbitrary topics in a French context. I know it might introduce some vocabulary I may not have come across otherwise but really, with how many people am I likely to want to discuss the commercial impact of having shops open on Sundays? Basically zero.

This particular TMA is supposed to be looking at giving advice to fellow forum users about managing their time better and discussing how increased working flexibility affects people’s lifestyles. I find the idea of *me* giving advice on time management fucking laughable since as you might have guessed from my blog, I procrastinate to doctorate levels. I spent most of today sat in my bed watching Youtube videos, knowing full well that this deadline is tomorrow and I had only about 160 words of the 300-350 that I need already written. That is some serious apathy I’m rocking right there.

I mean look, I’m blogging instead of finishing off this assignment now! I’m at around 250 words but I’m procrastinating again! It’s an endless cycle of doing a little, distracted a lot. *dramatic sigh*

Anyone else feeling similar levels of “meh” towards some aspect of their studying? Or is it just me being an apathetic lazy bugger?

Ray

p.s. This post has been the length of my TMA that I should be finishing right now. So easy right?

Writing Ray – The awkward questions from relatives

Afternoon m’lovelies, I wasn’t too sure what post I wanted to do today since I need to do a July Reading round-off post but I also wanted to share the rather awksies situation I found myself in yesterday while on a coach trip to Llandudno with my mother and Gran.

I was a last-minute replacement for my sister who injured herself at work the other week (how she still functions like a human I do not know – I’m sure she ought to be a cyborg by now) to help my mum push my Gran round Llandudno. Since I’m now footloose and fancy-free after finishing work I was like “sure, why not?” I haven’t been to the Welsh seaside in forevs and if it was nice and sunny then it would be lovely albeit kinda sweaty if I was pushing the wheelchair.

Anyway this relates to my writing because rather than taking a book to read on the coach journey there and back I decided to take my notebooks for my current WIP which I’ve got back into writing recently. So there I am on the coach sat by the window angling my notebook away from my mother so she can’t read what I’m working on when my grandmother pipes up asking me what I’m doing.

How do you go about explaining your Fantasy novel to your 74 yr old Grandma in a way that won’t sound mental? How do you explain just the fact that you are writing down the ideas that dribble out of your head? I made some very vague references to it being a story similar to what I like to read and didn’t say much else.

Then she asks the most irritating question that I’m sure most non-published writers get asked – “Are you going to get it published?” As if it’s just a case of taking the handful of pages that fell out of your printer into a publisher, plonking it down onto a desk as is and being given a pretty, bound book straight back. I had to try and explain that not only is my book not finished, it is also going to require a fuck-ton of editing undoubtedly and then that’s not even getting near to the mainstream route of queries, agents and publishers – if I get there at all.

I also found it bizarre how my family seem to have got this idea that I’ve been writing stories solidly since I was a child. Yes when I was younger I probably did (I can’t honestly say I remember) but I have never finished a story in my teens/adult life so far. What do they think I’ve been doing for all this time? It was just so odd to hear my Gran talking about my “stories” as if I’ve done loads and they’re just lying about my house waiting to be published. Dude I wish that was the case!

Another strangely awkward relative situation recently is that my mother is completely fine with the idea of my writing. To the point that she is more than happy for me to be doing a Creative Writing module as part of my Open University degree. I find this so unexpected and bewildering you wouldn’t believe – I expected disapproval and hints to do something more worthwhile not… whatever it is that my mother thinks about it all.

So yea that was yesterday. In terms of actual writing it was a pretty good day – I got three pages hand-written for what is currently going to be my first chapter which has kinda ended up as 6 pages. Now I gotta type all that up into Scrivener and see what the finished first draft version will be. If you’re really lucky maybe I shall post that and the prologue up onto my Wattpad.

If you care to have a read of a little snippet I put up last week which is related to my WIP but not actually part of the novel then take a mosey over here. Any thoughts or comments on that will be muchly appreciated.

Right I’ve spent too long writing this – getting distracted by other interwebby stuff. I may do another post soon on some of the music that has been part of my writing process more recently.

Toodles
Ray x