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Infinite homework report

March 14, 2017
my desk, where the infinite homework happens

It’s been *coughcoughmumble* since I did one of these updates. Luckily these things aren’t graded, huh.

Although honestly, there isn’t much to say about my infinite homework except: toiling ever onwards. Neil Gaiman said: “This is how you do it: you sit down at the keyboard and you put one word after another until it’s done. It’s that easy and that hard.”

So bloody true.

However, I am now practically finished with Silver & Iron. I know, I know. I’ve been saying that for a while. This time I really truly am. For reals. Honestly. Well… as finished as I think I can be. At some point, you have to stick a fork in it, right? And we’ve passed a lot of points by now. I wrote a first draft, then completely rewrote a third of it (30k words trunked, ouch), then I did a substantive edit (meaty stuff) followed by continuity corrections and then a line edit (wordy stuff)… I changed a few names, and did a few spellchecks. And here I am. I want to do one more pass — because I haven’t read it yet, from start to finish, like a reader — but I’m feeling ready to push this little sucker out of the nest and start hatching something new. Of course I could just keep rewriting, and rewriting. And rewriting. But for the sake of my sanity, I need to take what I’ve learned and apply it. Forward motion. Good luck, little book.

Future WIPs

Contenders… in their corners:

Space opera triology – a planetary civil war generations in the waging. Spies, mercenaries, phaser fights, human-AI hybrids, a hidden queen. But also buddy fiction. in space. With themes of motherhood, and autonomy, and choosing your own fate. I’ve been doodling on this idea for years now and think The Time Has Come.

Multiverse love story – two people meant for each other meet in a place where the the gap between worlds is stretched thin. In another world, they’ve already met. Lives that intersect, reflect, parallel. It’s like my Time Travellers Wife story. It’s percolating. I don’t think I’m ready to write this yet, not the way I want it to be told.

Some kind of post apocalyptic tale – just not sure what my spin is yet.

Sequel(s) to Silver & Iron – because I’ve left it open, and I have an outline of where Rukan goes next. My mood board includes: immortality, sacrificing for love, carrion eating slugs, thermal hot pools surrounded by snow, fur, bearded dudes, perfume, canals, fungi grown in hinterland caves. However aforementioned sanity requires me to take a break from her world for the time being.

Shortie shorts

I do really want to finish “A Swim with Bede”… maybe I’ll be able to, once the book is out of my hair. I still like it, even after all this time… it still makes me smile!

writing

More forks

November 17, 2015

Rukan – currently titled Silver & Iron and that’s totally the best I can come up with considering my utter inability to find titles for shit – has crept even closer to finishdom. This draftski is doneski as of yesterday. 106,000-odd words, start to finish, only one tiny (teeny! itty bitty! I swear!) bit that needs filling in.

But enough! for now.

I’ve never got so far in completing a book before – so I don’t know if this will happen every time – but by gum*, I hate working on this story. Literally have been forcing myself. Every single minute. We are too close. I want to punch it in the guts and tell it to get out of my face. It’s mouth breathing all over me. Gah.

So as per my latest plan, I’m going to print this sucker out, stick it in a folder with a new red pen, and set it aside for a couple of months. Let it slip out of my brain a little bit… let my brain focus on a totally new and different story instead. Refreshing! I’m so excited! New story! Eeeee.

Give me and Rukan some space, some distance.

Then come (February?) I shall uncap that red pen, get work on a bit of spit & polish, and finish this story up for good. With fresher hopefully-not-so-hateful eyes. Oh, and the accompanying query letter (which is drafted – still a bit long I think – christ these things are hard to write). And then we will see what the world makes of it.

I sort of feel accomplished and excited at this point but not as satisfied as I guess I’d hoped. Writing this story has taken me too long. It’s lost all its shine. I don’t even know how crap it really is: I can’t SEE it anymore. But at least I can still appreciate the effort I’ve put into it, even if I can’t love it as a story anymore.

I’m mostly looking forward to writing something completely different right now…

* by gum?! I don’t even know where that came from. Pretty sure have not been reading any old school detective novels or such.

writing

Infinite homework report

October 28, 2015
infinite homework report

Current WIP

Oh man. I am not going to finish this book by end of October. Three days. THREE! How did that happen. Life conspires. Oh well, I suppose it was a self(inflicted)imposed deadline – it shall be done in November instead. This only pushes out me being able to start on a ShinyNewStory(TM)… which patiently waits. All shiny & new.

So. I have 40-something pages left to edit, and the first draft of a query letter. Once both things are done I will be putting them aside for a couple of months, and letting them settle. Letting my brain have a break.

I would love to wipe my hands and say DONESKI for REALSKI – to throw that query letter + 3 chapters into a million agents’ mailboxes – but I just think it’s not quite polished enough yet. You only get one chance to write and finish your first book. You ought to make it the best book you can. And I need some distance before I can do a final passthrough, do a slash & burn with the red pen.

So it will sit and percolate, and I shall entertain myself with ShinyNewStory(TM) in the meantime, and in the new year I’ll pick Rukan up again and dust her off and finish that sucker. For realski.

There’s no other progress to report… All my writing time has been focused on Rukan.

writing

The weird stuff I have googled while writing this book

September 25, 2015

So one of the fun things about writing sci-fi and fantasy is making stuff up. And one of the annoying things about writing sci-fi and fantasy is making stuff up…! because stuff must be based in realism. I always write with browser windows open on Google, Etymology Online and Thesaurus.com – and I’m constantly checking things.

I kept track of a few of the searches I made while writing Rukan… gives you an idea of what weird & wonderful stuff I have read about!

  • How soon after death should someone be buried (ugh, right?)
  • Climate where forest fires are common
  • Words that end in -mancy
  • How does police corruption typically start
  • Composition of bronze
  • When do linden trees flower
  • Symbols and colours of death
  • How fast do pigeons fly
  • End of summer harvest crops
  • Harvest seasons of ancient Israel
  • How ceramic stoves work
  • Economic sanctions
  • Animal symbols and totems
  • How long do moths live
  • How long does it take to sail Sydney to Auckland (to gauge relative distances between my book’s countries)
  • Climate types
  • Who cleans up a crime scene
  • How do you make yellow laundry soap
  • History of traffic control
  • History of kohl
  • Metals in meteorites
  • Yams (apparently most of the world call a sweet potato a yam…?! what I call a yam is actually an “oca” from South America…)
  • Early mail systems
writing

Infinite homework report

September 9, 2015
infinite homework report

Current WIP

Omg you guys, can it be… am I actually getting close to finishing this beast? I am in the middle of a pass through right now – checking for continuity & flow, tightening up saggy bits, highlighting facts to check. But I’m not rewriting. I’m editing. Damn, when did that happen? I haven’t yet reached those bastard chapters of 16 through to 18 (sometimes 19 also pisses me off) so there might still be lots of work ahead of me. Right now, though, I am feeling good. I am feeling on track to finishing in October. Long may this feeling last.

Still haven’t decided if I want to find a beta reader, or get a manuscript assessment.

And I am actually looking forward to buying a shiny new red pen, and printing out a bajillion pages of story, and doing some line editing.

Future WIP(s)

I haven’t looked into the future recently. Still thinking a sci fi trilogy will be next. Whatever it is, it certainly will be a much betterer plotted story, at the very least. Stern new rule: no starting something till you know how it finishes.

Shortie shorts

I poked at “A Swim with Bede” (working title) again. It grew some words, and something like a plot structure. But it’s very undone still. I had this grand idea that it would be awesome to write four short stories each year – that’s only one every three months. Achievable right? A more pessimistic part of my brain is hysterically laughing right now. Maybe I should just try & finish ONE THING this year.

writing

Infinite homework report

August 5, 2015
infinite homework report

Current WIP

Spent a hefty chunk of time on Monday fixing up my plot document – specifically, the saggy middle bits. Now I can see how the story moves forward and I have (almost) a plan of attack for those damned three chapters. 16, 17 and 18, I’m looking at you, you bastards. After that, it’s a smooth downhill to the end, and I can move into some more nitty-gritty editing work.

I’m still not sure whether I will get anyone to read it for me. i.e., pay for a manuscript assessment, or force ask a friend to be my beta reader. I know it would be hugely useful. But part of me just wants this story to be finished already and getting feedback would mean it isn’t finished already, YKWIM? I am reserving final judgement until after I’ve reached the end of this current draft.

Future WIP(s)

I have a plot document which is shaping up nicely. I like to work on this in the evenings after dinner, so it’s not moving very far or fast, but a plan is accumulating. It’s the first story in a set of three, though. Can I commit to a trilogy? What if I hate everything after book one… and then have to write two more? Eek.

Shorts

“A Swim with Bede” (working title): I poke at this short story every now & then. I really like what’s there so far, and I really want to finish it. Got to make the time for that to happen though. It would be nice to finish something & try find a home for it while the giant beast WIP lumbers on towards its inevitable doom.

writing

Tricks for sustaining momentum

July 30, 2015

Writing is great when I know where I’m going, and when I love what I’m producing. But it’s freakin.hard.work when I can’t see the path I’m following and/or I’m bored with my WIP. It’s difficult to sit down in front of the screen sometimes… even though I know I need to. My writer self is this unruly immature child who must be cajoled, begged and/or bribed into doing the work sometimes.

The writing (and editing) must still be done. Often, the greatest hurdle is simply starting for the day. Sometimes it’s more about overcoming a deep sense of THIS-IS-ALL-SHITE-WHY-AM-I-BOTHERING-NESS. Or about just pulling on my big girl pants and cracking on with it.

I’ve come up with this toolbag of tricks. For tricking myself into writing. Yes. I know that’s a bit strange. Me & myself & I & whatnot. Here’s what’s in my arsenal:

Candy & snacks. Tangible delicious rewards for writing & editing. Totally falls in the ‘bribery’ camp. Also sweet treats make me feel better while I look at my WIP and want to weep in despair. Coffee is also good – oh yeah, and wine if it’s a night-time session. (Sometimes I can catch this great creative high at night, which is awesome. Othertimes I am smooshing my hands into my face & wishing I was watching reality TV instead, in such cases, wine definitely does not help.)

Setting up a user profile on my laptop with no access to the internet. I am very very very good at procrastinating. Doing this stops me from randomly sifting through the entire interwebs instead of writing, and literally forces me to focus. Good for when I’m on a deathmarch to finishing something.

Reading what writers say about writing. Books and blogs about plotting & characters & the writing lifestyle – all of these things are motivating for me. Especially the ones where they talk about how awful it is, how much they hate writing, or how SLOW they are. I’m like YESSSS that is ME. Solidarity. Fistbump. I am just like this Real Author (TM).

Picking up a favourite book. Those stories and words that inspire me, the things I wish I had written, or just love to read. They make me WANT to write a great story. Good for when I need a pick-me-up, a hit of creative energy.

Going elsewhere. I’ve found that going to a cafe is a great way for me to reset & focus. I really don’t procrastinate in a cafe as much as when I’m at home. If I need to dive into a story & do some good thinking, this can be just the thing.

Routine. Writing every day makes it a habit. It takes a long time to get there (I once read it takes on average 66 days to create a habit) but once I am in one, it’s that little bit harder to stop. And so I get forward momentum simply from showing up day after day. This is probably the most simple and important ‘trick’ and conversely, the hardest one. Reminding myself of the benefits of showing up doesn’t always prompt me to get on with it. But hey, on such occasions, there’s always candy…

writing

Writing Rukan, so far

July 22, 2015

I started working on Rukan (working title; I’m still flailing to find a betterer one) in earnest in March 2014, when my son was 3 months old. He became more settled at that age, and his naptimes became my time to write. It was kind of like going back to work… except my desk was now the kitchen table, I could wear leggings & tramping socks, and a small dictator kept interrupting me. But it worked out. The beauty of being a writer while being a SAHM was how flexible it could be. I loved it.

At least, it worked out while there were naps.

The napping/writing routine went really well for about a year. It’s a bit harder now: he doesn’t sleep as much during the day, and so I just don’t have as much time. His one nap in the middle of the day is now my time to do everything, with priority given to eating lunch and writing (and sometimes blogging…) When he dropped to one nap a day, I put him into occasional childcare a couple of mornings a week, which has been a godsend. Those 3 hours literally fly by. I try to squeeze in All The Things: grocery shopping, cleaning, laundry, gym… and writing. I constantly feel like I’m not maximising that time. (I constantly feel guilty every second I don’t spend of it writing. Screw you, guilt monkey.)

One day soon my boy is going to drop that one nap & then I’ll have even less time! I’m not sure what I’ll do when that happens – work harder to FIND time I guess – but I do hope that Rukan will be finished by then, and I can start trying to send it out into the big wide world.

I am incredibly lucky to have the support of an awesome partner giving me the opportunity to stay at home with my boy & have a massive go at this writing gig at the same time. I know not every yearning wannabe author gets this chance. It’s been a remarkable experience and I have learned a lot about writing & how I write (& how I would LIKE to write) in the last little while. Even if nothing eventually becomes of Rukan, this book has been a massive leap forward in my development as a writer.

I’m really looking forward to finally finishing the thing (OMG can’t it just finish itself by now?!) so I can start working on the next one and apply all that I’ve learned. I have this – probably totally batshit crazy – idea that it’ll be easier, the next one…