As I coaxed the Gerbera on my windowsill into bloom for a second time, I thought I should apply some of the same magic to my writing, and the New Year seemed a good time to think about setting some objectives for 2016. I don’t make resolutions that require any sort of denial – they’d be doomed to failure from the start, so Yes, I will still be eating the chocolate and drinking the wine – I’d much rather give myself goals that will enrich my writing life. Early in 2013 I wrote about using the SMART acronym for personal development. It fits well with this aspirational time of year, so I’ll roll it out again. Continue reading
We’ve all been there, and I don’t mean that rapidly expanding rear end through far too much sitting and writing (and eating snacks, let’s be honest) and not enough exercise. I mean that space between the opening of our novel and its climax, when we run out of steam.
With NaNoWriMo fast approaching I find myself on the horns of a dilemma. Shall I participate or not? If I do, I wave goodbye to my partner and most of my free time for the month of November. If I don’t, I miss out on a potential 50,000 new words that will form the basis of a new novel.
Given that procrastination is my natural inclination, indecision isn’t new to me. So what’s holding me back?
After casting around in the wilderness for a while, tinkering away at the second novel – the one I began during last year’s NaNoWriMo – I have belatedly realised that I don’t want to continue with it. Not at the moment, anyway.
On the premise that you can’t edit a blank page, get something written down. If you’re experiencing the same kind of angst as me – too much to do and not enough time to do it in – consider this piece of advice I read a while ago: if you gave up just one of your soaps every evening and concentrated on writing something instead you would have the best part of a novel by the end of the year. Now, I’m no-one to talk, I’m a sucker for quiz programmes and whodunits myself, but there is some merit in the idea.
I feel a bit lost today. After all the frenetic activity of the past few weeks it’s rather strange not having to snatch some time to sit and write.
But the story still draws me in. I’ve a little way to go before it’s actually finished, and after that, there’s the dreaded rewriting. As the saying goes, write with your heart, rewrite with your head, so I’ll have to look at what I’ve written from a different perspective, checking plot lines and timescales and making sure everything makes sense and that I haven’t made any schoolgirl errors like changing someone’s name halfway through.
Word Count: 49,007
This has been a most productive and exciting day. Over 5,000 words. I’ve tried to make them sensible words – and I hope the story hangs together in a pleasing manner. But where did they come from? I’ve no idea – there’s obviously a well of words inside me and I hope it never dries up.
Tom Clancy once posed the question, The difference between fiction and reality? Fiction has to make sense. There can be no unexplained happenings and certainly no coincidences, because fiction abhors a coincidence, just as nature abhors a vacuum.
Word Count: 43,712
On the final stretch now and the words have to keep coming. Where do I find them?
William Shakespeare knew a thing or two about writing. In Act 2, scene 2 of Hamlet, our eponymous hero utters the immortal phrase, ‘Words, words, words.’ He’s obviously done this challenge, too.
Ray Bradbury said, ‘You fail only if you stop writing.’
With this kind of pressure, I can’t possibly stop until it’s over. Only 5 more days and 6,288 words ….
Word Count: 42,393
I’m creeping forward, word by word. Sometimes it’s like pulling teeth, and just as painful.
‘A woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction,’ said Virginia Woolf. I’ve got the room, what I need now is enough money to give up work and concentrate on writing.
Actually, what I really need is a rich benefactor.
Word Count: 40,459
I was on local radio this evening, reading one of my short stories. Go to the Short Stories tab and read it. It’s titled ‘Leaf Tea’ – I’ll add more in due course. During the interview I talked about the NaNoWriMo challenge and what effect the pressure to produce has had on my writing. There’s no time for finesse, I said, that will come later; and there’s a great temptation to narrate, without developing character.
I’m reminded of Anton Chekov, who said ‘Don’t tell me the moon is shining, show me the glint of light on broken glass.’ At the moment I’ve got no time to show, I’m just telling a story. But this isn’t good writing practice and there’ll be lots of editing at the end.