Printspiration

Just a short—and late!—post from me this time.

The process of writing a novel is a long, difficult and tiresome thing. It can be very easy to lose inspiration, especially when life outside your writing is hard. There are a few little things that I find are great for injecting a little of that passion back and there was a particular one that I was reminded of today.

It can often feel like all this time I spend pounding away at the keyboard doesn’t produce anything. I don’t end up with anything tangible after and sometimes when things are tough that can make it easy to forget the final product.

Today though, in preparation to start my final phase of Through the Black edits, I printed that sucker out. I very rarely actually print my work, partly because nothing ever feels finished enough to waste the paper on and partly because I’m convinced that all printers are out to get me. I was reminded of just how amazing it feels to hold that work in your hand, to flick through the pages you’ve worked so hard on all these years. Even just a print out for scrawling across can be enough to remind me both what I’m working towards and what it’s come from.

So if you’re feeling a little disillusioned with your writing, maybe try printing out a chapter or two and have a read. Touch the words, smell the paper. It might just give you that little boost you’re looking for.

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Suddenly September

Suddenly it’s September. How on Earth did that happen? I have no idea but it’s terrifying. We only have two months before the madness of NaNoWriMo starts again and I still haven’t decided what I’m going to work on. I have so many open projects that I don’t want to start a new one and make the pile even bigger. What I’d like to do this year is work on a draft of something I’ve already started and, as I generally use NaNo events as a break from my main projects, I won’t be looking at Twyned Earth.

The three projects currently fighting for my attention are The Fishperer, One Dead Prince and War of the Heavens. Each has their pros and their cons.

The Fishperer is the shortest of the projects and I have a pretty much complete rough draft. Choosing this one is the quickest path to getting another MS that I wouldn’t be horrified to show anyone. I’m worried the story is a bit naff but I love the world and the characters are, in my opinion at least, hilarious.

One Dead Prince has the benefit that I’ve been working on it most recently so a lot of its issues are fresh in my mind. It’s neatly spilt into four sections, each of which is roughly 50k words so I could aim to edit one of them. The only issue is I’d have a lot of work on the build up to November as I’d need to re-read and make extensive notes on 215,000 words to know what I needed to do to it. It’s a big and very messy draft in need of a lot of attention.

Finally there’s a project I’ve not spoken about very much recently but that’s not for a lack of passion for it. Somehow it just always seems to get nudged out by something else. War of the Heavens is the project that first got me back into writing as I was in my last year of university and as with ODP it’s a big one. However unlike the other two this one still doesn’t have a complete rough draft, which means I’d get to do some actual writing done instead of just editing. Given how most of the year has been spent working on edits, it’s a very tempting thought. It also wouldn’t take as much prep work as either of the other two as I already have chapter plans typed out.

Right now, I’m leaning towards War of the Heavens because that poor project has been pretty neglected over the last couple of years. Plus, as I was half way through transferring it to Scrivener last time I looked at it, it’s in a bit of a state so it’s really about time I fixed that. I’ve still got a few weeks before I need to start prep anyway. Let’s just hope I don’t get stuck by a dreaded Shiny New Idea like I did last year.

Are you starting to think about NaNoWriMo this year? What plans, if any, have you cooked up?

Character Profile: Sharneth

 

Sharneth With Background 2

Portrait of Sharneth Vix’sear

Story: Twyned Earth series, first appearance in Through the Black.

Protagonist or Antagonist?: Protagonist

Name: Sharneth Vix’sear

Age: 48

County of Origin: Thikrek

Occupation: First Voice of the Vix’sears

Loyalties: Those who have proven their worth

Goal: To preserve peace

Morals: The needs of the many matter most. Often dark things must be done in the name of what is right.

While exploring a suspicious rock formation, Sharneth and her mate discover that someone is trying to shatter the thousand-year long treaty that has protected her people from the horrors of the past. Thrust into an alien world unlike anything she ever imagined, her mate wounded and the shadows of war gathering, she must unlearn all her prejudices and side with some of the very creatures she fears in order to stop the worst period in her people’s history from repeating itself.

And strange, strange creatures they are.

 

 

 

New Job Blues

Hi all!

So, the new job has been throwing curve balls and things have been pretty rough. I’ve been writing a little on weekends but not a lot. There’s been some big upheaval and uncertainty and thanks to that I’ve been hugely stressed out. I’ve been dealing with anxiety pretty much constantly and must admit that I’ve been struggling.

This week though, after work, I’ve been writing. And not just sitting forcing out a couple of lines from a brain made of mush. I’ve had a proper good writing sessions.

I’m finally starting to settle into the new job and getting better at handling things. And so I finally have the energy to stick bum in chair and face the screen. It’s really hard to not be able to do the thing you love because of something you have to do, especially when it’s something that makes you anxious and unhappy. I’m moving through that though and things are looking up.

Unfortunately right on the heels of this I’ve received another short story rejection but I’m not going to let that get me down. Regaining the ability to write at all feels like too much of an achievement and I’m happy with just that.

Not to mention, if you’ll have a look to your right at the progression widget, you’ll see that Through the Black edits are now OVER 50% COMPLETE! We’re over the hump now and as I get more and more settled in with the new job I’m hoping things are just going to keep rolling!

Also next week we should be back to proper blog posts instead of just me grumbling! Huzzah! They might even make it out on time. What on Earth next?!

I’ve Been A Bit Quiet.

I’ve been very quiet online for the past week and that’s because of the continuation of my massive life upheaval. As some of you know, three weeks ago I moved from my little town in the Highlands south to the big city. As of Monday, I also started my new job. As such I haven’t had much time for anything other than working, commuting and collapsing into an exhausted heap when getting home. New jobs are like that. Loads of information, meeting dozens of new people, new places and being so far out of a carefully crafted comfort zone. On the plus side, I’ve watched a lot of Voyager.

On the downside I’ve missed a whole week of writing from tiredness alone. Good job I used my time off well. Still, I have survived the first week which is usually the worst. I’m hoping that next week I’ll handle things better and be able to actually get some writing done.

It’s a bit of a downer having to neglect the thing that I love because of the day job but in the end it will be worth it. I’m already loving living here and the new experiences and people this opportunity is opening me up to will vastly increase the knowledge I can draw upon for writing with. People and experience are research tools that can’t really be replaced. Plus, I’ve already got a couple of boxes of tea sitting ready for cracking on next week.

Also, since this post is apparently more about my boring life than actual writing, I got a place in a Pokémon gym yesterday, so that was nice. I was knocked out again in the five minutes it took me to get home but I shall treasure that screenshot forever.

Are any other writers out there facing massive upheaval? How do you handle the changes and balance your writing?

World Building Notes, or Lack Thereof

World building is a hugely important part of any story. Whether you’re writing in the real world or creating somewhere completely new and fantastical, a writer needs to be able to paint a picture of the setting they are writing in. The places need to be deep, vibrant and—perhaps most importantly—consistent. Even subtle discrepancies can pull a reader out of the moment and detract their enjoyment from the world you have created and the story you are weaving.

When it comes to creating a new world some people like to create whole worlds and detail things that may not ever make it into a story, where as others create the world as they go, only constructing the pieces of the world necessary for the story being told. Personally, I use a combination of both. Certain parts of my worlds are fleshed out beyond all necessary detail where as other entire continents are just a single word scrawled in a notebook somewhere. Which brings me to my point.

Notes are important for continuity. Especially when writing several different stories all in the same world, as I plan to do with Twyned Earth. Up until I started packing to move, I thought I’d been pretty good at making my notes on the Twyned Earth. I. Was. Wrong.

I had notes. Quite a lot of them. All scattered throughout a multitude of different notebooks and in different states of completion. I had notes on elves on no less than seven books, in photographs of my whiteboard that had been mixed in with cat pictures and in piles of loose leaves of paper, all of varying sizes. There was unique information about them on pages that were scene plans. And that was just elves. The system was… less than ideal. I decided that this would be a good time to start collating everything properly and bringing all my information together. It was while doing this that I made an even more worrying discovery.

A lot of my meticulous world building had never even been written down. Ever.

That’s right. I’d apparently been trusting my years of crafting this world with nothing but my brain. The same brain that makes me walk into a room three times before I remember why I went in there. Needless to say, I was a little spooked. All those ideas that I’d thought about on those long, slow days at work, those great little details I’d come up with in the shower, all those things that I was certain that I’d written down somewhere, I hadn’t. Let me tell you, there’s nothing quite so inspirational as discovering you’re an absolute muppet.

Operation: Write Fricken Everything Down And Put It In This One Folder commenced immediately and shall be continuing for quite some time. My writing time now includes updating these notes as I go. So I guess this post is a bit of a reminder or a suggestion. Maybe go and check on your important notes. Some of them might not be as great as you remember them.

For the sake of continuity I’m going to be forcing myself to keep this folder up to date. I love fancy notebooks but it’s time I get all of this information organised and together. Also written down. At lot of the things about Twyned Earth I just know. Let’s face it, I probably spend more time thinking about TE than just E. However, my memory is far from perfect. Far, far from it. Which is why I seriously need a complete set of hard copy notes of my world building. From now on, nothing will be going into an MS without it going into the folder at the same time – or preferably before.

Have you experienced a similar scare? How do you organise your writing notes?

Resolutions 2016 – Half Time

We are already—terrifyingly—halfway through the year so here is a half time update on those resolutions I made back in January. Now, I commonly use the phrase “going to sort my life out” when I’m exiting a conversation, normally to mean I’ve got something to get ready for or something important I’ve been putting off that I finally am going to do. This year so far has been a pretty special one for me personally as it is the year where I have finally, actually, sorted my life out. Big, big things are happening in the next few weeks, as you will read below.

 

1.) Diversify my reading – As I’m a slow reader, I set my goal for this at ten books (half of my Goodreads challenge). I have currently read 6 out of 10 of those and am finding some amazing books I might not have found if I hadn’t specifically gone looking for them. If anyone has any recommendations for great diverse sci-fi, horror or fantasy novels I would love to hear about them in the comments below!

Diverse Books

If a book has the phrase “giant penguin apocalypse” in the blurb I’m probably gonna read it.

 

2.) Start leaving short reviews on Goodreads again – I set my goal for this at one a month and I’ve managed to keep that up, which means I’m currently 50% of my way to completing this goal. My reviews are still short and fairly pants but I’m writing them and making myself look more critically at a book than I normally would do. This in turn is helping me think about my own writing, even seeing the same issues in my own writing when I really sit and think about it.

 

3.) Submit more short stories – Submitting stuff is scary and between working on novels and a pretty hectic life at present, I set my goal for this at submitting three times. This is to allow for the time it actually takes to write a story and the time it takes to hear back. So far I’ve submitted one but I have another that’s almost ready to be submitted and the first is due back on the 5th of July at the latest, which will be getting sent elsewhere if rejected.

 

4.) Finish next draft of Through the Black I am currently 27.8 % through this draft! That number might not look great but I’m actually really on track with Through the Black work. I’m 81.6 % through the first sweep which is by far the longest part of my revision process. Thanks to an influx of time (see below) I’m a couple of chapters ahead of where I was expecting to be and have even moved up deadlines so that step two and three have more time for perfecting!

 

5.) Lose more weight – BAM! Mission accomplished. I have hit the number that I was after. The new goal here is to still be at that number or below come the end of the year. Maintenance is tough so I’m going to be working hard to make sure I don’t slip.

 

6.) Get a tattoo – The same tattoo I’ve wanted ever since I first saw Dragonheart when I was seven. Yes, that was 20 years ago and I have been putting it off and off and off. Observe below! Tah daaaaah!

Tattoo

Not Draco but a dragon all my own.

 

7.) Move in with partner – Now this is where things get really exciting (and terrifying). The 17th of June was my last day at my previous job. That’s right – I’ve finally found work down south. Less than a week from today, I am moving. The next couple of months are going to be turbulent as I juggle with a new home, a new city and a new job. It’s going to be scary and stressful but I welcome it with open arms because finally—finally—I will be living with my partner.

 

How is your year and resolutions going? Tell me all about it below!