What’s new with the novel?

It is rather amusing, to come and look at this blog (which almost no one sees I realise) to see my last post being about my frustration at the lack of progress I was having with my novel. What’s even more grimly ironic is how I start by talking about how my Uncle’s death was still knocking my whole family for six, about a fortnight after I posted that my Grandpa died suddenly which was another blow we could have done without. I have blogged about my feelings on the subject over on Safe Space which is a super cool blog I’m now currently writing for. So this post is going to focus on writing.

IMG_3696April has been a fantastic writing month. Far more so than I ever could have hoped. It was only around mid-month that I started really keeping track of how much I was writing from day-to-day (I have jumped on the method which Victoria Schwab uses to chart her writing with shiny coloured stars on a calendar). Between the 13th-25th April I wrote over 10,000 words – new words on chapters from the middle which have been driving me crazy since November because I just wasn’t filling the void in the manuscript.

Around the end of March while I was on holiday in Florida I got done with drafting Chapter 17 (which I kind of wrote before 16 but whatever), and since I got back I’ve managed to write Chapters 16, 18, 19, 20 and I’m currently working on 21. It’s a hell of a leap forward which I’m super proud of, my Draft 2 ms is now over 60K and the overall Scrivener file which has the rest of the 1st Draft combined with it, is over 110K! Like seriously how have I written that much?

From what I have roughly planned out, I should only need to write three more chapters (after Ch. 21) to finish writing all the scenes from the middle section of the book that I feel need to happen. That will probably come to around 10K all told then I’ll be back with the really old stuff that I drafted way back in early 2014. That’s going to be erm, interesting. At that point I’m going to try and not dwell forever on how shocking some of the writing is (Probably too much of this novel is “telling” but I can’t fucking fix all of that on this pass), and just try to only overhaul bits where I’ve written something in the first half of the book which now contradicts what I wrote in the second half. Was bound to happen when I wrote the end of the book before I wrote all the beginning.

Hopefully *crosses everything* I can get myself to the end of this 2nd Draft by the end of May(?) maybe so then I can do the insane and print off my entire manuscript, ready all the awesome revision resources that I’ve got from the fantabulous Susan Dennard’s website and start working out all the ways I need to crack this book apart and how the hell I’ll put it back together again.

I might do another post soonish on how things are going because in May I will no longer be working (finished yesterday) *BUT* I have my last assignments for my OU module to do so my days will need to become strangely regimented so I do work on the essays as well as the novel. Whether I’ll manage that I don’t know 😄

Anyways I should get back to those things I should be doing.

Speak soon yea?

Ray xx

Here we are again

One day I’d like to write a blog post that isn’t 75% apology and 25% lambasting myself for being useless. Today isn’t one of those days I’m afraid.

I just spent a good chunk of time scrolling back through this blog reading all the inconsistent posts I’ve shared since August last year on writing, studying and as you might have seen by the last thing I posted in June – mental health. I’ve done a very poor job of documenting my studies & my writing journey and I really want to try to make 2016 a better year for this, but I’ll need a bit of a run up so here I am trying to blog again.

I ought to give an update on what has happened since I last posted, I’ll have to try and remember the important events. My memory is pretty shoddy with my own life but I’ll give it a go.

  1.  I passed both my OU modules with a 2:1 – somehow did better on my French EMA than my Creative Writing which is insane since I spent almost no time revising for the French exam. My French luck strikes again.
  2. I submitted a story I wrote for my TMA05 to the British Fantasy Society competition – found out in October that I didn’t make the shortlist which was a pretty depressing end to 4 months of waiting.
  3. I started working on my novel again, this time I decided to go back to the beginning of the book and work linearly through it. Reworking chapters I’d already wrote, writing new ones as I got to gaps. I finished writing Chapter 13 the other day which tells you a lot about how fast I’m progressing (glacially). I nearly have 40K of this “Second” Draft now and thankfully a bit more of a clue as to what needs to happen in the middle 25K that I have yet to draft. I’ll maybe do another post talking about the State of the Novel soonish.
  4. I started  my Children’s Literature OU module. This is the first Level 3 course I’ve done so that’s a nice dollop of pressure to do well with it. I somehow got an excellent mark on my first TMA but it was about Northern Lights so I was pretty invested in it. I’m meant to be working on my 2nd TMA right now actually (why else would I be reviving a comatose blog if not for procrastination?) but I’m struggling to get started. I’ve read the books I need to but I’m in that familiar dichotomy of “Want to get a good mark, scared I’ll fuck it up, too nervous to put words on a page because they’ll be shit, ad. nauseum”. Maybe once this is posted I’ll be in a better frame of mind.
  5. I’ve got an official job! Yes it’s doing exactly what I’ve been doing sporadically since February but I’ve got a contract and legit salary so that’s swanky. It is just a six month contract until my mother found another person to take the Finance Admin job permanently (which she now has) so from January I’ll have the fun task of training up the new lady and handing over my job in March. I kinda secretly hope that she’s not as efficient as me straight away because then it’ll sooth my irrational hurt at being replaced (I never wanted to do this job permanently anyway).
  6. I’m now 25. Which is weird because it means I’m on the slide towards being 30 and I honestly don’t know what to think about that. I don’t feel like someone who is 25, I barely feel 20 with how immaturely I deal with certain things, for fuck’s sake my mother brings me lunch when I’m at work! I am more than capable of making my own damn sandwiches but I let her do it cos it’s easier. Before I turn 26 there is a *lot* of shit I need to sort out about myself because I am far too dependent on others in various aspects of my life and it’s not healthy.
  7. Speaking of what’s healthy, I’m not quite sure I am, in the mental well-being sense anyway. Since my last blog post I have had some rather up-and-down times with how I’m feeling in myself. I had a *very* bad day back in October which involved me loitering round Nottingham Waterstones alone for several hours too crippled with anxiety to go upstairs to where the YA Extravaganza was going on. There are still many questions and doubts I have about what I’m doing swirling in my head that I have barely begun to pick apart and deal with. It’s probably a task for another day when I’m not diligently procrastinating what should be my top priority.

I’m going to leave the list there. I am very fond of 7 of things (probably due to my Potter obsession). Whether there’ll be any sort of follow-up post in the near future I honestly can’t say. I have toyed with the idea of starting up the Cup O’ Thoughts posts again for the days when I’m not at work to see if that will help me create a routine for myself, but we’ll need to see if it’s possible.

Going to head off now in search of some food. I might even switch off my laptop and try to get some work done analogue style. I don’t know why I’m finding so hard to be productive in my office anymore. More questions all the time. *sigh*

Hope your Sunday is going better than mine.

Speak soon perhaps

Ray x

 

 

Writing Ray – Plot, plot, plot

Now that I’ve completely destroyed the meaning of the word “plot” for myself I should say that this post is going to have nothing useful to other writers on the subject of plotting a book or anything else like that – for actual advice and helpfulness y’all need to check out Susan Dennard’s website and her page of links to awesome blog posts For Writers because seriously she rocks and I’ve got the page bookmarked to my main toolbar.

This is more just a way for me to journal my writing process over the year so that maybe in another year or two I can look back and rofl myself into a stupor over my naive writer self and her daft assumptions about writing a book for the first time. For funsies and all.

Anywhoooo today I wanted to talk about the fact that I *think* I have the remaining scenes of my first draft plotted out – vaguely. Over the weekend while I was at my parents (and reliving my childhood by visiting Sudbury for like the 7th time) I busted out a crappy A3 pad I bought ages ago and grabbed some marker pens and mapped out about 8 scenes apiece for my two MCs for the middle section between when they meet for the first time and for the second.

It was a bit daft of me to leave the middle until last as by now it’s been nearly 9 months since I wrote the First meeting scene and at least 3 since I wrote the second meeting so my thoughts about certain things and characters may have shifted slightly in that time – not counting the fact that I can be a fucking idiot and just forget I wrote some things – so getting everything to match up is going to be a challenge. One that will probably have to be sorted in the second draft.

So I now have two A3 sheets with my middle section planned out; some of the scenes on there have already been drafted so I really only have 12 scenes to write rather than 16/17 which is a bonus I guess. How long all those are going to end up being, I have no clue as yet. My original estimate of the book being 85,000 words is starting to fall short, it’s looking like 95-100K will be more like a realistic endpoint for this book.

Setting up all the scene cards in my Scrivener project is delightfully fun and it will be even more enjoyable when I get to change the status of all those cards from “To Do” to first draft or something similar once I’ve written the actual scenes. Then once I’ve got all that done I might be able to say I’ve finished the first draft of my novel! *le gasp*

Now that will be exciting. For now I gotta keep chugging away at it and today’s wordcount of 1113 words  has been rather lovely and helpful for getting me to a current overall wordcount of around 71.5K *holy shitballs that’s a lotta words* So while the end may be in sight it won’t do to give into complacency now.

But that’s all for now folks. Carry on!
Ray x

Writing Ray – The Difference a Year Makes

So yesterday I happened to be pottering about on my Youtube channel and I saw a video I did last July entitled Why is Writing so dang hard? It was about 8 minutes of me grumbling about my difficulties with writing and how although I had several story ideas and many notebooks half-full with scribblings that none of it ever materialised into actual novel-sized pieces of writing.

In that video I showed two notebooks that had both got some notes on the first five pages or so – those are the notebooks for my current WIP that I have been working on this year. The yellow legal pad is now nearly full with plotting notes and scene snippets that I did in pencil (exclusively in that notepad I don’t know why I just preferred it that way). The other notebook is not quite as full but it still has quite a lot of pages that are crammed with snippets, thoughts on characters and story timelines.

So if you think that a year ago, all I had an idea that was bouncing round my head, some scribbled thoughts and little else. Fast forward to now when I have nearly filled a notebook and have written **Monday Edit** nearly 67,000 words on this idea… that is some pretty awesome progress. Just since the start of 2014 I have written more than twice as much as my longest previous piece of writing.

According to Scrivener my book is currently equivalent to 215 pages in a paperback so when I get to my intended word goal it will be around 285 pages. If I overshoot a bit maybe it will end up as a round 300pgs. It will be a very strange thing indeed to have to print over half a ream of paper that will have my words all over them.

That’s not to say that this year has been a cakewalk getting all this writing done. I’ve had to juggle my full-time job, my Open University studies and my home life while trying to write. My boyfriend has been amazingly supportive of me, even when he’s nagging me to actually get my OU work done when I’ve been neglecting it for too long. But I think without the push from him last year to try and write this idea I might not have got started and I’d still be that grumbling non-writer lamenting the inability to get her thoughts out onto paper/pixels.

No gushy post about my writing progress will be complete without me mentioning, once again, the Amazing Alpha Reader/Slave-driver that is my best twinnie Jess. She has been my touchstone throughout this project. Every time I’ve sent her a scene to read I’ve been sat anxiously wondering “will she like it? What bits will she not like?” and when she sends me her feedback it all gets filed in the “Do not forget” part of my brain and when it comes round to editing this book those emails are getting printed out as the starting point.

So again, THANK YOU WITH SPRINKLES ON TOP Jess for keeping me locked in my Writerly Cage and rewarding me with cashews when I done good 😛 I’m pretty sure you’re first in line for a dedication if/when this book gets itself into an actual printed format. You’re the best first reader a girl could wish for.

Twinnie Jess on the left 🙂

A year can change a whole lot, while I’m not 100% confident in my abilities as a writer (heck I don’t like to think what the real percentage might be), I have irrefutable proof that I *can* get my ideas out in a reasonably coherent manner and create a story that at least one person wants to read. Which is a pretty damn good feeling. Who knows where I’ll be next year? Charging ahead with edits on Book 1? Maybe have a first draft of Book 2? Be Plotting Book 3?? All of the above?!

I’m looking forward to finding out. I hope you guys don’t mind me dragging you with me on the adventure.
Later
Ray x

Writing Ray – Mega Milestone

So a very short while ago I finished what is currently the last chapter of my book. And I finally passed 60,000 words. Y’heard right. SIXTY mutha-effing THOUSAND WORDS! :O

Dude I know *I’m* shocked as hell. When I started seriously writing this book back in January I had very little idea that I was going to end up here in June, well on my way to finishing writing my first book. I mean WUT? I have daydreamed ideas for years and excepting my Nanowrimo attempt of 2010, never really started writing any of the story ideas I had. I have several drawers full of notebooks with odd bits of scribblings about various ideas but nothing on the scale of tens of thousands of words.

I ain’t finished yet though. I have at least 25K more that I need to write and that includes the first few chapters after the prologue and some important plot development sections from the middle of the book. So no slacking off for me. If the writing gods are nice to me maybe I can get this first draft complete by the time the summer holidays start so I can spend those sunny days *crosses fingers* in my garden editing and planning rewrites, but more likely plotting for book 2.

So there’s that. Also I have to say a MASSIVE THANK YOU to my twinnie/bestie/Alpha Reader extraordinaire/Primary cheerleader Jess who has been such an awesome part of writing this book so far. Without her reading my scenes when I finish them, pestering me when I’m procrastinating and motivating when I am feeling wobbly, I do not honestly know if I would be at this milestone now. I love you to bits Jess and I can’t express how much I appreciate everything you’ve done for me.

I do also owe thanks to my lovely, lovely boyfriend, Mark who has dealt most admirably with having a slightly crazy writer-girlfriend these past six months. He has given me the chance to write guilt-free on some evenings and then made sure I did my other work on others 😛 He has listened to me rant and ramble about my book even though he hasn’t read all of what I’ve done (eventually once the first draft is done he will *have* to read the whole thing). He’s given me hugs after I dissolved into a sobbing mess  when I wrote the DDS and he has kept me fantastically supplied with cups of tea. Sweetie, you possibly won’t see this (unless you click the link on Twitter out of curiosity), but I love you and thank you for putting up with me through this. I will do my best to get my Spacey-Wacey work done as well as finish this book 😛

Ok now I need to stop faffing about with gifs and do my ironing since I go back to work tomorrow for the start of my last term working as a TA at that school and I have *nothing* to wear. :S

Thank you again and here’s to an exciting June of writing, reading and HOLY SHIT TFIOS!! *prepares all the tissues*
Laters
Ray

Writing Ray – Where I’m at with things

Evenin’ folks! I thought that I’d do a bit of a post Nano update talking about where I’m at currently with my writing shenanigans (God I love that word). I haven’t done much writing since I hit my camp goal, little bits on a couple of scenes that are going to go towards the end of the book and also one which is purely for the repayment of feels to my dearest Alpha reader and Twinnie Jess since she was rather upset with me after she read the dreaded Dramatic Death Scene.

So I’m not going to be allowed to kill any more of my protags for at least one book – which is fine by me since I have already created for myself a musical trigger for tears from writing that death scene. Which is going to be very awkward later this month when Le Boyf and I go to London to see Yoshiki (Former drummer for the band X Japan) play his classical piano music which does include orchestral versions of some of their songs – two of which were playing as I wrote the final bit of the DDS. So it’s very likely that I’m going to burst into tears in the concert hall on hearing either of those songs (One is ironically enough *called* Tears – skip to about 3mins in and then tell me that you wouldn’t well up. The other is Forever Love – this is a shorter version and do excuse wet Yoshiki :P).

The plan for the next few months is going to be to get the end of the book done (only two scenes left I reckon) and start working on the beginning. Due to how I started writing this project I have the first scene I wrote being the first time my two main characters meet which I have got to write up to and then continue with the next section of the story. Originally I thought this scene was going to occur about a third of the way through the book, but now that I’ve written about half of the first draft I think it’s going to have to come earlier than that.

But then will come the question of do I need to re-write that scene when I get to it? How drastically different has my writing become from that first scene to now? I don’t really want to the consider the possibility that I’ve got worse from that point but one should never rule these things out and with me I have found that the more I do something the worse I get at it in certain bizarre occasions (cf. my book reviewing). It’s shit like this that keeps me panicking.

However I gotta keep that neurotic side of my brain crammed in a teeny-tiny box otherwise it’ll just jettison my confidence in this book and I’ll stop completely – which I really don’t want to do. Seriously I am really fucking enjoying writing this book even when it’s mashing my brain or making me cry.

All being well I should hopefully *fingers crossed* have my first draft done by the time I finish work in July so I can spend leisurely days sat outside with a stack of paper (heck knows I will need to buy a efficient printer with affordable ink) and a heap of red pens alongside Jess editing this thing into something that works as whole and not in chunks.

I don’t currently plan to even attempt to publish it, that is just something I don’t have the energy or mental fortitude to put myself through. I want to finish a book, for me, so that I can say that I have *finished* something before I continue writing the second book, which may eventually turn into three depending on how out of control the world-building gets and what plot bunnies spring up from that. If I get to the end of writing this story, however long it turns out to be, and I am happy enough with it that I’d like to start submitting it then maybe I will. But that won’t be for a while yet.

Until then I’m just gonna keep plodding on with it and dragging y’all along with me if you don’t mind.
Current rough count on the manuscript is probably around 57,000 words but that’s with two scenes to write and one to complete that I kind of abandoned. So by the time I hit the “end” of the book I should be at around 60K.

Now this post has got really lengthy and kinda meandering so I’m gonna go back and carry on with this scene that is going to hopefully stop me receiving Howlers 😛
Until next time folks
Ray

 

Writing Ray – Camp Nanowrimo The Final Stretch

I started this post on Sunday but as is often expected I got terribly sidetracked and since I spent most of the weekend worrying about my uncle I didn’t get that much writing done anyway. But now that there is positive progress in that quarter I was able to chill enough to the point that I could write my socks off last night.

If you were on Twitter late last night you may have noticed that I went a little mad and decided to attempt to hit my Camp Nano goal before I went to bed. I only had around 1200 words to do so I thought in the 4 hours I had it would be a piece of piss. Not quite so easy but I did it nevertheless. That’s right folks at around 12:07am this morning I wrote my 15,000th word on my novel and validated it to win my first Camp Nano!

Ironically enough when I copied and pasted my  Camp work in the website’s validator it actually came out saying I had 15,001 words which is enough to make one twitch and write another 99 words to have a round number back.

I do still have two days to write more if I fancy, and I might do some since I reckon I am only one or two scenes from the end of book one. I will still need to go back and do the first 15K of the book and fill in the missing 10-15K from round the middle but that is gonna be the task for between April and July’s Camp.

I’m hoping to maybe have the first full draft finished over the summer so I can have a go at editing it and hell I may try and write some of the second book during November’s Nanowrimo! I’m hoping to start an Open University Creative Writing module in October so I may sneakily use my novel for some of the TMAs if I can. Or simply use what I learn from the module to help my writing in general.

All in all April has been a fairly productive month, in terms of actual numbers maybe not more productive than January through March since I was less stressed about it so didn’t worry about the word count so much. But still 15K is all good stuff and some of these scenes are damn important and I hope that much of it will survive to make the final draft.

Depending on what extra writing I get done over the next two days I may do a last Camp Nano post but otherwise stay tuned for my April reading round-up probably on Friday since on Thursday Jess and I are going to see FREAKING LAINI TAYLOR Y’ALL!! *flails*. That will be a post in itself since I hope to get pics of the lady herself and of all the fun shenanigans we’ll have plus it’s likely there will be a haul of some sort *shrugs* y’know what book bloggers are like when they get together…

But anyways have a good evening
Ray