Tuesday, 15 December 2020

Taking a break on here...

Season's Greetings to all of you, and all best wishes for the remains of 2020. What a terrible year it's been in many ways.

I've had some highs, and many lows. Am I glad to see the back of the year? Yes and no, but mostly yes. I've published three books and written another. I'm 3/4 through a fifth, so writing-wise, it's been a decent year. I'm hugely proud of The Trilogy and am looking forward to publishing the next book in that series.

But all of my book-events got cancelled because of covid-19 restrictions and sales have been awful. I'm not alone in that, but that doesn't make it hurt any less.

I've had longed-for holidays cancelled. I've not managed to see friends. On the plus side, I haven't lost anyone, either to covid-19 or to anything else. Since keeping our distances saves lives, we have all been happy to do that.

I haven't been able to hug my Dad since March. I currently can't even see him, except via Facebook messenger, which he struggles with. I won't see him for real on his birthday, nor on Christmas Day. In fact, on Christmas Day, not even my mother will be able to see him, unless his care-home changes their policy. For the first time in >55 years, they will be apart on Christmas Day. There's always the fear that this will be his last birthday and Christmas, which is heart-breaking enough, without adding in him not seeing his family. Visits are currently restricted to my mother being allowed to see him for 30 minutes a week. It's not enough, but we understand why it has to be that way.

To be frank, I'm beginning to struggle with all of this, so I'm going to keep my head down and try to focus on finishing off this draft of book #10. My solution when Real Life is hard has always been to disappear into an imaginary place. I generally just want to stay there and not come out.

So, I will see you in 2021, and hope that life will become easier next year. That I will be able to visit my father, see friends, sell books... live a little. Until then, I shall immerse myself in writing and knitting.

Stay safe, everyone. Hang in there. I think I see light at the end of the tunnel.

Tuesday, 8 December 2020

Taking stock

Having managed to write just over 50,000 words in November, I've barely written any in the past week. Partly my brain needed a rest, and partly I needed to catch up with a lot of things that had fallen by the wayside over November. I also wanted to take stock or where the book was at - what needed changing and what still needed to be written.

I've not been happy with the opening of the book - those were the scenes with the "bleugh" comments I was on about, when I discussed not finishing scenes might be the right thing to do. Re-reading it, I was marginally more happy with it, but most of it will still end up getting changed.

There are also some big gaps later on in the book, where I wasn't quite sure how to get something to work, so moved on to scenes I was more sure about. Now that I've got a much better idea of what is happening in the book, and how everything pans out, these won't be so difficult to sort out.

Will I get this sorted before the end of the month? Hopefully, if I roll my sleeves up and get on with it, and stop being distracted by beautiful wool and knitting!

Tuesday, 1 December 2020

NaNoWriMo... did I manage it??

Back near the start of November, I considered doing NaNoWriMo - where you write 50,000 words of your novel over the 30 days of November. On the day that I posted about it, November was already 10 days old and I was already >1200 words "behind" (working on the 1667 words per day theory), which didn't feel like the most promising start. But as I'd done so much planning before the start of November, I gave it a whirl. I knew that on a good day I would be able to write more than 1667 words, and if I needed to stop and plan more, well, I would stop and plan more. A decade of writing experience told me that if I just turned out 50,000 words without a decent amount of planning, they would be 50,000 of garbage.

Did I manage it? Did I write 50,000 words over November?

YES! By close of play on Saturday (28th) I'd written 50,220 words in November.

Are they 50,220 words of garbage??

Hopefully not!

I didn't do NaNoWriMo officially. I don't have an account with them. I don't have any kind of badge or sticker to 'prove' I did it, but I kept a daily tally for myself, and, being a scientist, I turned it into a graph.

The small blue bars are my daily writing totals. You'll see that on several days, these are zero and on others, they are not as large as 1667. On the other hand, on a lot of days they are far more than 1667.

The orange bars are my cumulative total over the month. The grey bars are the 'goals' - a cumulative 1667 words per day, to give 50,010 over the month (+10 because of the rounding!). If the orange bar is bigger than the grey one, I was 'ahead' and vice versa.

How did I find the whole process?

A combination of stressful and motivating. The pace is relentless. 1667 words a day is okay. Take a day off and that becomes 3334 - an altogether tougher target for me - at least if I want to be able to keep any of the words. Two days off? That can feel like an insurmountable amount to catch up.

By managing more than 1667 words on most days, I put enough slack in the system to be able to take days 'off' - mostly for planning, but also because Life happens and some days it just wasn't possible to sit down and write. If you look closely at the dates, I was 'ahead' of the target by most Fridays and then 'behind' again on Monday.

I was glad to have written as much as I did, but I really need to take stock now. Usually when I'm writing, I take stock every few days, so my writing pace is slower than 50,000/month! Right now, I feel I need to spend about week going through it all, marking up scenes that will probably go, scenes that will change drastically, and creating a list of scenes still to write.

Would I do it again?

Maybe. But only if I'd already started writing a book and had detailed plans of where it was going and what was happening with it. The pace is high and I am genuinely pleased and surprised in equal measure to have written so much in the month. It's showed to me that I can do it. Time will tell in the editing phase as to whether I then feel I should have done it. If I end up taking far longer over turning a first draft into a final manuscript, then the process is not worth it.

Will I finish the first draft of this book by the end of 2020? That was my goal. Last month I wasn't so sure. This month? Maybe. The draft is currently just over 60,000 words. I'm aiming for a first draft of ~70,000, but I will need to stop, take stock and do some more planning before those 10,000 get written. I'd like to think I will have done the draft before book #9 reappears on my desk at the end of December!