One Third Done

I realise it’s been some time since I last posted – over two weeks. It’s time for a status update.

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Writing outdoors is still one of my favourite things.

I’m now nearly done with the fourth week of my writing sabbatical, which is twelve weeks long. I’m making good progress, or so I believe. I finished the first draft of the first two stories of the series and I’ve begun work on the second draft of story one.

It’s fascinating how much it helps to have written the story once. I did a very extensive outline and it helped a lot in getting the first draft down on paper quickly. The first draft is not nearly in readable shape though. Rather the opposite.

Fortunately I have a much better idea of the story now. I know what it needs, and what I have to add and remove and change. Unfortunately, there’s a lot that needs changing, but I’m making good progress.

2017-10-17 15.17.34Two new chapters at the start, and a complete rewrite of the original first chapter. Many of the other chapters will also require a lot of work – more than I originally hoped for.

That’s a learning experience I guess. It enforces that there’s no need to worry too much about phrasing and grammar/spelling in the first draft. That’s just there to get the content on the page so that I can see what works and what doesn’t.

Perhaps that’s obvious to many writers already, but for me it’s come as a bit of a realisation. Hopefully it’ll help me get down with the first drafts of the coming stories even quicker.

One Third Done

Soundtrack for writing creation myths

I finished the first draft of the first story of my series today. It’s shit. Fortunately, there’s a good story underneath all of the rubbish, but I’m going to let it sit for a while before I try to dig it out. Tomorrow, I will start on the second story in the series.

Today, I took a little break from that part of my writing.

I have another story that’s already done, and which is just waiting for its cover before I can go ahead and release it. To be precise, the story itself is done, but there are a few details I’d like to add to it before I publish it.

One thing I noticed is that my beta readers had slightly different ideas about how the anfylk of my story look. The story works for them anyway, so I don’t consider it a major issue. I’ve also not found a good way to include a detailed description of the anfylk in the story proper.

Instead, what I’ve decided to do is add a section about the anfylk at the start of the story.

I know a lot of people have their reservations about prologues, so I’m keeping it brief, and I won’t be calling it a prologue as it’s not really part of the story itself. It’s also not required for understanding the plot.

Earlier this evening I sat down to write this not-quite-prologue, and while I wrote the song Now We Are Free, by Lisa Gerrard (from the soundtrack to the film Gladiator) came on the headphones. As it ended, I had to listen to it again, and again. No other song would do. It was the only piece of music in the playlist that fit with what I was writing.

What I was writing was essentially the creation myth of the anfylk people, albeit very brief, and the idea struck me to compile a playlist for writing creation myths. I already knew I wanted to have Vangelis’ Conquest of Paradise in it, but I had to find three more tracks in the same vein.

I didn’t find them at the time, but now, at home, a few hours later I’ve got a short list ready:

Five songs in total. It’s not much, but it’s what I do when I try a thematic playlist like this. I will occasionally make playlist like this for the main characters of my stories. I start out with a very large number of songs, and then I pick out the five songs that best represent the character.

These songs do not necessarily best represent the creation myth of the anfylk people, but they will have to represent the feeling of trying to write a creation myth for a made-up people in a fantasy story.

Soundtrack for writing creation myths

First Week Nearly Done

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View from my writing spot at home.

Today it’s one week since I last went to work. The first of my 12-week sabbatical is nearly over, but it feels like a lot less. I’ve done a decent bit of writing, but not as much as I could have.

Technically, I’m ahead of my initial target and I expect to finish the first draft of my first story within the next three days – probably tomorrow. Most likely my targets were overly generous and will need to be adjusted. Then again, I need to factor in editing and writing the second draft and so on.

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LED string in an old cognac bottle.

In the past I’ve usually been fairly happy with how my first drafts have turned out. I’ve taken my time on them and polished the text while writing it. I’ve tried to cut back on that this time in order to get on with the story instead. I believe this is the way to go, as it gives me a better idea of what the story really needs, but boy does this first draft suck.

“The first draft of anything is garbage” is a saying attributed to Hemingway. I’ve decided to embrace that fully and not worry that my story is a bit rubbish at the moment. There’s a good story hiding underneath all the crap and I’m pretty sure I can bring that out in one or two rewrites.

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I sometimes go up to the Lough Park nearby to write.

I’d like to finish the first draft before I get on with the rewriting though. That way I’ll have a better grasp of the story in its entirety and I’ll know better what to add and change and remove.

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“Mobile office”

I’ve also decided to let the story sit for a bit when I’m done with the first draft. Instead of going straight back into editing I’ll begin on the second story instead and once that’s done I’ll go back and edit the first one. Then I’ll write the third, edit the second, and so on. Hopefully it’ll give me some time to detach from the stories so it won’t be too difficult cutting things out.

First Week Nearly Done

It’s Begun

Yesterday was my last day at work for quite a while. I’m taking an extended leave to focus on my writing. Twelve weeks. Starting today.2017-10-01 12.18.33

It’s scary. I’m nervous.

Actually, I’m feeling kind of fine right now, but if I sit around and think about it for too long I get anxious and nervous and worried. I’ll try not to do that and instead get on with the writing.

I’ve got a pretty good plan and I believe I can stick with it. I’ll strive to beat it, but it won’t be by much. Write the first three novellas in my series, and publish an older one that’s already written – that’s the plan.

Originally I’d planned on starting to publish the series as well, but then someone pointed out that Christmas is coming up. Supposedly, launching as a new and unknown author during that period is difficult and expensive. I don’t recall the exact details, but it made sense at the time, so I’ve decided to put publishing off until January.

This gives me more time to write, which can only be a good thing, right?

To celebrate my last day at work I went to an arts/poetry event/party last night. I’d written some words of my own for the open mic part of the event and that’s what’s in the picture here in this post. I tried to sum up what I’m feeling and how nervous I am about this whole thing.

Hopefully it’ll be fine. First though, breakfast.

It’s Begun

Start, and Start Over – Always

I’m done with the outlines. Twenty novellas prepared and ready to be dressed in prose. It’s a bit scary.

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Last night’s sunset, as I was walking about contemplating getting started on my new story.

I started yesterday. I wrote the introduction words, and I began writing on the first scene/chapter. This morning I continued on the same scene, and this afternoon I scrapped it and started over.

That always seem to happen to me for some reason. I start working on a scene, and I get to a point where it just doesn’t work and I have to scrap it and start over. It’s an awkward and inefficient way of figuring out what the scene is not supposed to be about.

Okay, to say it always happens like that may be a bit of an exaggeration, but it’s often enough it’s familiar to me. Part of the process – if unwanted.

Either way, it’s done now, and the first scene is now taking shape for real, and it’s much better than the initial version.

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This may be my new favourite writing spot. A cafe in an old church with a little back yard with a big tree you can sit under. The canopy is dense enough to keep a light rain at bay.
Start, and Start Over – Always

Eighteen. Two more.

It’s getting close now. Almost done.

The last few weeks have been slow. I think I’m still on schedule, sort of, but it’s getting tight. I need to finish the outline for two more stories and then I’m done and ready to actually start writing. I’m looking forward to it with both dread and anticipation.

It’s getting serious now.

I’m having doubts about my first story. Will it be good enough to get readers to check out the next one, and the ones after. Will it work? I think I can write a good story about an interesting character that people will want to get to know better. I know I can. What I don’t know is if I can hook a reader for long enough to get them stuck in the story. That’s the challenge.

I think the first story will work. I think. I don’t know.

That’s the scary part. The uncertainty. I’ll just have to live with that I guess. I’ve got to finish the outlines, and then sit down and have a serious think about what I’m doing with the first story.

Is it good enough?

Where is there room for improvement?

We’ll see. I might just have to trust in that the story is good enough and that I’m a good enough writer to pull it off. The time to faff around and fiddle with details is almost up. It’s almost time to hunker down and actually get things done.

It’s almost time to get the ball rolling.

Eighteen. Two more.

Troublesome Eleventh

Last week I wrote about how I’d completed the outlines for half the stories in my series. I wrote that I was making good progress. I jinxed it.

The eleventh story didn’t want to cooperate at all. I’d had doubts about it before, and now when I got to it I realised it just didn’t perform well enough at what it was meant to do. I tried to go with it anyway, but eventually I decided to scrap all but the first few scenes and start over from the beginning.

I then scrapped the first few scenes as well.

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Making some tea

Overall, the story is the same. It begins in the same way as the previous version, and it ends in the same way. It’s how it gets there that’s changed. I came up with a new conflict for the story which makes it a lot more interesting but doesn’t massively change the plot.

The story is different but it still fits into the series in the same way the earlier version did.

Maybe you could think of it like a piece of a puzzle? The original piece was blank, and didn’t have an image on it. It fit into the puzzle, but it didn’t add anything to the picture. What I’ve done with redoing the story is I’ve painted the piece in a way that makes the piece contribute to the image rather than just filling out a hole.

It took nearly a week.

I’m a bit behind target, but I’m done with it now and I’ve moved on to the twelfth story. That too threatened to act up much in the same way as the eleventh, but I managed to work that out in a better way and didn’t have to redo the entire thing. I even came up with something that’ll be a good addition to one of the earlier stories.

Troublesome Eleventh