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.



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!

1 down 60 odd to go … and a congrats!

16 01 2009

This morning I finished off a first chapter that I am happy with. Yay me! Only took me several drafts and a whole lot of rethinking to achieve 😉 I think I’ve nailed it though. I’ve managed to maintain the qualities I liked from the previous version and at the same time added things which get us into the action much sooner (the inciting incident of the novel happens here rather than four chapters later) and will keep the reader gripped.

Kirsty read half of it and she says that I’ve layered it really well. By that she means I’ve added depth to the world. It’s only a little thing but she really feels that this world is real – kind of important when you’re writing fantasy.

Only 60 odd more chapters to go!

Oh, and I saw this post on Pat’s Fantasy Hotlist. Apparently New Zealander Russell Kirkpatrick had the best selling sff debut in America this year. While I’m not a fan (and yes I have read them) I would like to wish him congrats! Now I just need to follow him in a couple of years 🙂

Professional writer = good

19 12 2008

There are good things and bad things about having a professional writer as your spouse.

Good things:

  • You can go to them for feedback and usually the feedback is the right feedback
  • You can bounce ideas off them
  • They often have insights that enhance your original concept, taking it in an entirely unexpected direction or just making it better

Bad things:

  • Never available – paying work and deadlines ALWAYS take precedent

I experienced both the good and the bad over the past few days.

My wife’s been meaning to read my novel for the past few years and she’s made valiant stabs at beginning it but she has never quite got all the way through (or much past page 100). This is primarily because of work pressures. Obviously I’ve been understanding about this (I’d be a bit of a jerk otherwise) but Kirsty has been REALLY guilty about this. Almost, “Can you ever possibly forgive me?” type guilty, you know, the kind of guilt you experience after doing something really really bad. Now, I’m not entirely innocent, I suppose I have played it up to get the latest computer games (maybe I am a jerk?) but I totally understand why she hasn’t got around to reading or giving feedback to me. Paying work ALWAYS takes precedent.

Having started the 4th draft of the novel, I thought I’d take a novel (heh) technique to get her reading it. My plan: to drip feed her small bite sized sections of the story. It kinda worked.

First the bad: it took her three days to get around to reading 5 pages. But you know what, bite sized chunks work – she READ it! Yay, Kirst!

Then the good: she immediately found the flaw in what I had written and suggested a solution. I had this feeling that some of the motivations were slightly off, they were okay but there was an element of this could be much better going on. Her solution is elegant and simple and when I incorporated it it ended up taking up less words. Yay, brevity!

Kirst also helped with suggesting a name for another key plot point – actually it was more like we bounced ideas off each other, but still it worked! Yay, Kirst!

writing renewed

18 12 2008

Over the past few days I’ve been rewriting the opening chapter of my novel. I’m pretty satisfied with the prologue already (which you can view an earlier draft of here) but the first chapter needed a whole lot of work done to it. It’s going slowly so far.

Part of the problem is that I haven’t done any solid “writing” for a good few months. By “writing” I mean setting myself my 500 word goal every day and working towards it, not editing, and not reviewing. I find that setting my goal and working towards it is something that works best after repetition. I need to do this process for several days and only then will it start to come easily.

The other reason it is going slowly is that I am completely revamping one character and introducing a whole new character. The revamped character has existed in the novel since my first draft but in each subsequent draft they’ve steadily got darker and less likeable. I actually feel quite guilty about what I have done to her. Still it’s necessary for the story. Nice is, well, nice, but it’s boooooooring. Besides the way the character has evolved in this draft is much more realistic and adds layers of drama and tension to the story.

I’m also struggling to capture the voice of the new character. I have an image of her in my mind but I’ve failed so far in my attempts to convey her. I picture her with this short almost dreadlocked hair and an attitude that borders on being almost sensuously cocky but whenever I try to put this down in words it just doesn’t feel right. I’m also trying to do the difficult job of linking her subtly with another character who appears later in the story. In my plans for this latest draft I actually was intending for these two characters to be the same person but it made the story messy and needlessly complicated. Having them be two characters is a more elegant solution. I know the other character really well, she appeared in the last draft and took on an increasingly bigger role as the story progressed but I still need to find the new characters voice. It’ll come to me but right now I’m frustrated.

Saying all that, I am really enjoying the writing process again. There’s something about writing that makes me feel complete. I’m at peace when I’m writing, as if it is something that I am meant to do. Now if only I can convince a publisher that I am meant to write for them 😉