None Down, Nineteen To Go

Recently I decided to split my big massive novel into shorter stories and try and tell the same tale as a series of stories rather than as a single long one. I expected to have twelve stories for the main tale and then a few extra as flashbacks and fillers.

I’m now done with the first preliminary outline and I’m up to nineteen stories – including one flashback that I believe is necessary to explain what drives one of the main characters.

That’s a lot of stories to write, and I should get started. Today. Now.

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That was yesterday, or the day before.

It’s really big though. Starting is difficult. Always is.

So I’m writing this blog post instead. A little update on where I am and what I’m doing.

The plan for now is to start doing detailed outlines of the stories. I’ve got rough outlines for what’s happening in all of them. I need to start making decisions about details. Instead of my outline saying something like “Roy and Alene have an argument and get very upset with each other” I need to define what the argument is about, what positions Roy and Alene have, and why they get upset with each other.

At least I think that’s what I need to do. It makes sense to me to do it like that. Then once I’ve done that, I’ll move on to the next story and once I’m done with all of them I’ll start writing actual prose.

But right now, maybe I’ll just sit here for a little longer. It’s warmer than I’m used to. I’m tired and a little bit hungry. I’m low on energy. I miss winter, and autumn, and early spring. Once they come around, I’ll miss summer again.

I guess I’ll read the outline of the first story and see what I need to consider for it. I’ve gotta start sometime.

None Down, Nineteen To Go

Me, On A Stage

Today, for the first time ever, I stood in front of an audience and read a poem I’d written. It was also the first poem I’d written.

And by “first poem I’d written” I mean the first one I’d written on my own initiative, for myself, with the intention of trying to say something. I’ve written poetry in the past, back in school, and once or twice for a song-book while at uni, but not like this.

This was, for want of a better expression, for real.

It was really good fun. I’d do it again. I was nervous as a really nervous thing, and afterwards I had to sit down, take a few deep breaths, and drink real deep from my pint – and even then it took me a while to calm down.

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I’ve thought about poetry for quite some time. Thought it’d be fun to try. Thought I’d enjoy it. But until now I’ve not done more than thought about it. I did that book, and it’s in the poetry category, but it’s not quite the same. It doesn’t work off the page. The small black words and the big white paper is a part of the experience. It doesn’t work when read out loud – other than as a series of silly puns.

This was different.

This was me standing in front of a group of people, most of whom I’ve never met before, and reading a poem I’d written. I really really enjoyed it.

And what about the poem?

I didn’t have much time, and I didn’t quite know what to do, so it’s a poem about me standing in front of an audience and being nervous about it – which is what it was. It worked really well, but I don’t think I can ever do this one again.

I’ll write another one for next time. I’m so looking forward to there being a next time.

Me, On A Stage

I Ran Very Far

It’s almost a week ago, and my legs are still a little bit sore. Not nearly as much as they were, but I can still feel they’re tired.

Last Sunday I took part in Cork Marathon.

I only did the half marathon, but it’s still the longest race I’ve been a part of – ever. I’m a little bit proud. I still feel like I could, or ought to, have done better, but if I’m to be honest I was spent when I crossed the finishing line.

It’s not realistic of me to think I could have done better than I did considering how exhausted I was towards the end. The last two kilometers went purely on will power. The brass band playing at the last bend before the end perked me up a bit and pushed my strides a little longer, but that took the last ounces of energy I had.

The walk home was slow and dull. It’s a good thing I live only a few hundred meters from where the race ended or I’m not sure how I would get home. I got there though. I did my stretching, showered, ate, and then slept for two hours.

The rest of the day I didn’t do much at all.

It was tough, and the last quarter was really boring with all the flat straight roads, but knowing me I’ll do it again next year anyway.

I Ran Very Far

A Few First Sentences

You’ve probably heard that when writing a story it is important to hook the reader from the start. The first page, the first paragraph, the first sentence, are all extremely important. Books have been written about that alone – or so I’ve heard, I haven’t actually read any of them.

Anyway, the beginning is important.

At the moment I’m drawing up outlines for a number of short stories, and while they’re not all done yet, it’s going pretty well (except I’m currently stuck, but I’ll sort that out). The stories are coming along, and they look like they’ll be able to fit what I had in mind for them – short, simple, and straight forward. Nothing fancy.

As I’m doing this I’m entertaining myself with coming up with potential options for the first sentence of each story, and I figured I’d share some of what I’ve come up with so far. So, here goes:

  1. “Yes Mr. van Waldenberger, the syndicate believes it would be in everyone’s best interest if you lost this match,” said the man in the dark suit.
  2. Roy stared at the phone, and the world spun around him. This changed everything.
  3. “I’m sorry miss. You know what the regulations say. I can’t give you any new shifts this close to the full moon.”
  4. Alene was out of the woods, technically. In practice she was still lost in the jungle with no idea how to get back, but at least no one was trying to kill her anymore.
  5. Paivi woke up with a raging hangover, groaned, and remembered that her sister had come back from the dead.

It’s more than one sentence in most of the cases, but I can live with that. It gives a wee bit more context, even if it may just be me seeing it.

Now, I can’t claim to be an expert on first sentences, but I feel these show some promise. They’re not final versions, but it’s what I have in mind, and hopefully it’s the kind of thing that’ll pull the reader in and make them want to read on the rest of the first paragraph.

Progress Update

I was originally planning on splitting my novel into twelve short stories. So far I’ve done outlines for seven of those. The eighth one that I’m working on at the moment will have to be split into three or four shorts – of which I’m done with two and working on the third.

From the list of stories I wanted to outline I have eight left that I still haven’t started on yet.

As expected, the project grows. I’m not too fussed with it. Setting up these shorts is turning out to be quite interesting and I feel like I’m unearthing little nuggets of knowledge here and there as I go. All things considered, I’m happy with my progress.

A Few First Sentences

Needless Worry

In my previous post, I went on a bit of a nervous rant about my upcoming article on Mythic Scribes. It’s live now, and you can read it here.

Turns out I needn’t have worried. The response so far has been much more positive than I expected. I’ve had a lot of comments and they’ve been both encouraging and grateful. It’s getting to be difficult to come up with individual and personalised responses for everyone.

Okay, sure, there’s only been eight of them so far. But that’s a lot more than most of my other articles, and in only a few days at that.

Overwhelmed is a word that gets thrown around a lot when it comes to gratitude and positive feedback, and while it’d be a bit of an exaggeration, I really am positively surprised. It feels great, and I’m really happy that others are able to relate to and identify with what I’m writing – even more so that they find it encouraging.

Thank you everyone.

Needless Worry

Room For Misinterpretation

I’m a little bit nervous.

For a few years I’ve been part of the article team on Mythic Scribes. It’s been good fun and I’ve learned a whole lot writing for the site. At first I was a bit nervous about people not liking what I wrote, or that they’d think it was stupid, or that I’d turn out to be wrong about something. That’s probably natural, and with time I got over it.

This time it’s different.

Previously, I’ve been writing articles about how I believe things work, and about how I do things when it comes to writing. It’s been quite factual, even if at a basic level. What I’m doing this time is much more personal. I’m writing about myself, and my goals and ambitions as a writer.

EDIT: The article in question is now live here.

When the topic comes up on the forums it always causes a bit of discussion – sometimes heated. The reasons people write are probably as many as there are writers, just as the way they do it. That doesn’t prevent people from having opinions about what ought to motivate others, and what oughtn’t.

It’s the art thing.

Why do you make art? What’s your reason? Who do you make art for? What do you want to say?

My concern with this article, and what I’m nervous about is that it’ll set off a discussion along those lines. Someone’s going to get the notion that my priority is to sell books, or that I think I’m not good enough, or that I should just follow my heart and write any way I damn well please.

So, to set things straight…

  1. My priority isn’t to sell books. My priority is to learn to write stories that people will enjoy reading. This goes hand in hand with a desire to sell books, but it’s not the same thing.
  2. I don’t think that I’m not good enough. I think that I’m not as good as I could be if I knew what I was doing.
  3. I am following my heart. This is what I want to do, and that is why I’m doing it.

That’s it really. I don’t feel like I’m flailing about blindly grasping at straws. I feel like I’ve set out to do something that I want to do, and like I understand the consequences and implications. I have a goal, I want to reach it, and I will.

And, well, that’s really all there is to it.

…it’ll probably take a lot longer than I want to though, but that’s another story.



Room For Misinterpretation

The Right Place and the Right Time

I mentioned in a previous post that I started shooting time lapse videos again.

Take a look at this. It’s just over 90 seconds. You won’t regret it.

This is from a few days ago, with the camera mounted just outside my kitchen window. It had been a fairly dull day, with rain hanging in the air and clouds covering the sky. I had my doubts about whether to put out the camera at all. It’s a bit of a hassle.

I’m glad I did though. Sometimes the clouds break up just at around the same time the sun sets, and when it does it’s often very pretty. This turned out to be one of those times.

On top of that a drop of rain hits the camera just as the sun peeks through the clouds, and the effect is just amazing. I’m so happy I managed to catch something like this on camera.

The Right Place and the Right Time