Here be dragons (soonish)

15 04 2011

Part of the reason I started blogging again was to try and get my motivation for writing up. Well it’s worked … but not really in the way I expected. The novel I have been plotting and developing and was anticipating getting started writing on has been hijacked by another story.


But it’s a good thing. When inspiration sneaks up on you need to harness it and ride it for all its worth, otherwise it’ll sneak off on you as soon as you turn away. The irony of the situation is that the story that has snuck up on me is an idea that I have been tossing around for a couple of years. I had some characters, I had a setting, I even had some great imagery but I had no story. Until a couple of days ago when an idea wriggled its way into my consciousness.

The idea involves an “original” take on a fantasy staple. I put original in “ “ because it’s original to me, I’ve never come across it before (plus I don’t believe there are original ideas out there – we just put our own take/spin on what has gone before). I’m quite pleased with it, all sorts of story possibilities are presenting themselves and it means I get to write a story with dragons. The only thing better than writing a story about dragons, riding a freaking dragon 😛

Of course there is still a mountain of work to do refining and planning before writing proper begins but yay! I’m feeling chuffed.



8 04 2011

It’s been a while, huh? There are various reasons for the break, but the main one would be that my mother in law passed on and suddenly writing a blog didn’t seem as much (or any) fun.

So why return (especially as it’s almost two years since my last post)?

Again there are various reasons, but ultimately it comes down to me. I feel like I can do this again. To paraphrase my buddy Sean, “sometimes you just need to get shit down.” Oh, and Sean will keep nagging me till I start doing this again, so there’s that 😛

What’s been happening with me since 20 April 2009? A brief précis:

Kirsty and I have been to:

  • Melbourne (loved the city, hated the rental car agency and our hotel)
  • Singapore (loved the city and their crazy obsession with Starbucks, hated the humidity)
  • Dubai (in two minds about Dubai – it’s a bizarre hyperreal place where everything is just surface shim sham and in worship to  the almighty $$ yet they know exactly what they are a hyperreal place where everything is just surface shim sham and in worship to  the almighty $$)

Oh yeah and I started a new job as a manager at the National Library of New Zealand in charge of an online reference service. And really that’s what has been ruling my life for the past 9 months. I’ve loved the experience, I’ve learned heaps of new skills and to be honest I can’t see myself going back to my old children’s and teens’ librarian job. I’ve moved on folks.

The writing? Hmmm. Let’s tiptoe quietly past that one … oh no, the door is creaking open so here’s the whispered update: I’ve stepped away from my epic for the time being and focused on developing a standalone prequel. How’s it going? Well, if by “developing” you mean I have plotted out multiple storylines and characters, then it’s a raging success but if by “developing” you mean actual writing then nope, EPIC fail.

So that brings me to the real reason for starting this again. I hope by starting this up again I’m making a commitment to my writing. Because I’m going to update here what I’ve been doing. In a way I’m kicking myself along.

So yeah, I’m writing this blog for me, because really only I can motivate myself.

BTW I’m now on twitter so if you’re mad enough you can follow me @robxoda

life settling down

20 04 2009

Life seems to have settled down a bit. My mother in law is still terribly sick and not likely to last out the year but at least she’s back home. We had a big family lunch on Saturday over at their place where I cooked a lamb roast for the family. There was me, Kirsty, her parents and her sister Fiona, and her husband Nigel. It was a yummy lunch and Kirsty’s mum really liked it though she was pretty exhausted yesterday. Fiona and Nigel fly back to Dubai today so at least if Ks mum does slip away she had one last family meal/get together.

The writing has settled down into a nice rhythm as well. I’ve been working away on decompressing one of my previous draft’s chapters into three separate ones. So far it seems to be working really well and makes this section of the novel really exciting. Or so I reckon at least 😉 I’ve also been thinking of crunching the novel down to a much shorter length. As I mentioned earlier the previous draft was 260,000 odd words which is way too much, especially if I want a publisher to take it seriously. I’m starting to figure out a way of working it so it’s much shorter. I still haven’t decided to do the change but its definitely worth considering.


2 04 2009

It’s unbelievable how good the weather has been lately! I just love this time of the year, it’s pleasant during the day and brisk without being cold at night. Plus its usually fine. The other reason it’s good: pretty much all my sports are on. Cricket is usually into its last couple of games, the Super 14 is on, the NRL has started and the NBA is getting to the crunch time. Maybe we should change the name from April to Rob-ril. Heh.

It also seems to have refreshed me somewhat. I’m feeling a bit more optimistic about things.  I spent my writing time this morning pulling apart a pivotal chapter from my previous draft and replotting it for the current draft. As a result it will now be three chapters! I definitely wasn’t expecting that.

Anyway, I should go and pretend to do some work.


31 03 2009

I haven’t really talked about my writing for a few weeks and the reason is a bit stupid. I’ve been ashamed with the (lack of) progress I have been making. In some ways writing is a simple activity. You set yourself down somewhere and write. Anyone who has written knows it isn’t that simple, there’s dreaming, planning, plotting, writing, revising, more revising and even more revising. By the end your finished piece probably shares little in common with your original idea.

At the moment I’m trapped in the “even more revising”. In the past few weeks I have rewritten my opening chapter several times. It hasn’t felt right at all. Now I’m a bit worried that I have turned what was an interesting opening before I started tweaking, into something jumbled. Ack. I think I’m getting stumped by the paralysis of closeness. I need to move on to something else and come back to the chapter in a couple of months.


5 03 2009

The writing on the latest draft of the novel has been going slowly lately, mainly because I’ve been having trouble with Chapter 4. I finished it a couple weeks back but ended up scrapping everything and starting again. It was just too disjointed and fragmented. There was this definite sense of “this happens then this happens then this happens then this happens” and on and on. It wasn’t good. Part of the problem is that Chapter 4 combines two chapters from previous drafts and in those previous drafts those chapters were very distinct.  But a weird thing happened when I started rewriting the chapter, I realised that the bones of a good chapter are there, it just needed to be reshaped. I’ve cut out some of the events and streamlined moments and suddenly its working a lot better and I’m feeling more satisfied.

I’ve also been developing some ideas around another story I’ve been working on for years. I have a kick arse setting, some awesome characters and the structure of the world and its culture but no real story. But the other day some ideas for the story came to me and I’m letting them percolate.

don’t catch shelving!!

20 01 2009

Spent today shifting around the children’s fiction section of my library. Major lesson that I learnt: if you drop library grade shelving don’t try and catch it. I received a nasty cut on my palm doing just that. Still the shelves work really well now. 

I also managed to finish off chapter 2 today. Going into the revision I thought it just needed some cosmetic changes and a few updates to reflect the current state of the novel but I managed to cut out a whole page of stuff! Call me Rob the Butcher. The slaughter continues as I excise an entire chapter next (goodbye 4000 words) then move on to another chapter which feels uncomfortably long. It’ll be interesting though as I’m going back to a slightly naïve character who is radically different by the end of the novel. Should be fun!