Works in Progress – Some Twitter Queries Answered

Finally, I am keeping my promise of being more involved on Twitter. I don’t know why it makes me so nervous – perhaps because I’m not a naturally sociable person and Twitter seems a bit like going up to strangers and tapping them on the shoulder. I’m getting used to it though and have been answering questions from fellow writers quite happily. However, I do find some questions hard to answer so I’m going to detail my difficulties in this post.

What genre do you write in? I realise that this should be a straightforward issue. And with Choose Yr Future it is relatively straightforward as it is a dystopia. However, new projects are not (mostly anyway). They are about often relationships and love but definitely too dark to be traditional romance. They are often about violence but are not crime fiction. I suppose you might say they are psychological but I’m not sure they would fit the idea of a thriller. I would say they are literary fiction but that is quite a broad church and doesn’t really narrow it down any.

Any questions relating to my WIP. The problem with this is that now that Choose Yr Future is finished and being polished, it is no longer a WIP. I’m yet to decide what comes next. I’m flitting between a number of things at the minute. Hopefully one will become pressing and I won’t be forever writing 4 or 5 different books. (That is what happened last time. Choose Yr Future just became the most interesting. It wasn’t the oldest or the newest.) Here is a list of the possibilities:

Surface Details – A family is thrown into turmoil when the mother suddenly disappears. While trying to find out what has happened they stumble upon many secrets. MC – Karen, Adam, Jenny and Nate Murrow.

The Practise of Deception – A year in the life of a group of friends and lovers looking at the lies that they tell each other. MC – Matt Murphy, Martyn Wilson and Steph Wilkinson

The Meaning of Sickness – A gay teenager stabs the girl who has been bullying him but she has struggles of her own with anorexia. MC – Dan Hughes, Carol Mitchell, Lee Stratham

Scars – Religious intolerance forces a teenager to run away from home. MC – Sebastian Tilling, Blake O’Sullivan

The Box – A dystopia looking at gene selection and creating designer babies – MC – Jake and Heather.

Not to mention the many ideas and notes that are awaiting attention.

Protagonist V Antagonist – Often Twitter asks what is your villain like. Maybe it is because I don’t write genre fiction but I don’t have obvious villains. Some characters are less good than others. Some are downright horrible. But they all have reasons for their behaviour and I try to make sure that they are not 100% bad. Similarly, the supposed good guys are not 100% good.

 

The Writing Process

So, I have finally done what I have been promising to do for the last twelve months. I have started getting more involved on Twitter. I have discovered many writers and have many books on my to-read list. What is most interesting about this is the way it is possible to discuss things with other like minded people. To be fair, one of the reasons I like writing is it is a solitary process. It suits my anti-social soul. But it is good to know that there are people out there who understand and who are interested in the way other writer’s work.

It has made me think about the way I work. I wish I could work in a linear way. I don’t mean the finished product, as such. Choose Yr Future is not told in straightforward chronological order. It moves between events just after the end of civilisation and what happened before. It also retraces events from the points of view of the different classes in society. That’s fine. That is what I want because it means not everything is revealed all at once. What I mean is the process of actually getting words on a page. Even if I were going to write a beginning, middle, end sort of story, there is little chance that it would be written in that order.

Even when I was at university, essays were written out of order and assembled later. This is very much the way I work when writing fiction. I have an overall plan, of course, at least in my head. But I have to hope that it will all fit together eventually and I have a recognisable whole. At the minute, as well as editing Choose Yr Future, I’m trying to work out what I have yet to write for another project which has holes all over the place. A large amount of it is typed up but an equally large amount is scattered about in various notebooks, along with many other half started projects. Pulling it all together is likely to take a long time.

I have problems with planning. I tend not to commit an overall plan to paper or screen. Part of me worries that if I plan too carefully, my creativity would be hampered. I would probably save myself the chore of moving chapters around until the order feels right if I was more organised in the first place.

It has been useful thinking about it. There are things that I could do to make life easier for myself. The creative process isn’t sacred. And as it is a process, it should be open to change. I’m unsure if I should abandon this WIP as being too complicated and start with an idea that is merely that. Then I could try and be more organised from the start. It sounds good but there is at least one part of my mind that is laughing hysterically at the very idea.

No more neglecting my blog: A reflection on where it went wrong this year.

I feel a bit sorry for my blog. It must have been wondering what it had done to cause such neglect. The last time I blogged was in October. I’ve never had such a large gaps between blogs before. The main reason is that wage paying work has been incredibly busy. I haven’t even had time to edit Choose Yr Future. Exam work, steady teaching work and the run up to Christmas conspired to make it impossible for me to get anything that wasn’t strictly (financially) necessary done.

Of course, I used to be able to write whenever I had a minute. These days whenever I have a minute I fall asleep. That is one of the most annoying things about getting older; I just can’t burn the midnight oil anymore.

I failed once again to finish this years Full House Reading Challenge. My error was to ask my husband to help me pick a book at random. His throwing a paper ball at the bookshelves resulted in me having to read Gravity’s Rainbow by Thomas Pynchon. Which I started in September and have not yet finished. (Although only about 10 pages left!) I might have abandoned it if he had not watched me very closely to see if I stuck with it. I am very much looking forward to reading a different book.

I’m not sure about doing any reading challenges this year. It might be time for a year off. A year of reading what I want to read sounds appealing but I will probably get sucked into something. I usually do.

Now the worst of the busyness over. Exams are done with until the summer. Supply work is back to day to day and no responsibilities. So hopefully back to blogging regularly and editing every day. It’s exciting. One thing to be said for this prolonged absence, I’m raring to get going again.

Happy Sixth Birthday to me.

So it has been six years since I started this blog. It doesn’t seem that long. A lot has happened but mostly what it made me think is how rubbish I have become at blogging recently. I have neglected my blog lately and not because of the usual workload excuses either – or not just because of those. Mostly out of writer’s block.

For the last year or so, I have found it increasingly hard to think of things to write about. Not just blog-wise but in my fiction writing as well. I have been working hard at editing Choose Yr Future but new projects have not been forthcoming. I seem to have started dozens of things. Starting is not so much the problem but continuing once I have started.

Over the last six years, a lot has happened. I published Shattered Reflections which was an interesting experience rather than an out and out success. Don’t get me wrong, people said good things about it. It garnered a couple of good reviews on Goodreads but I found it hard to promote myself. On top of this, life events (such as my mam’s illness and then death) made it difficult for me to entirely concentrate on my writing career.

Still, I think I learned some valuable lessons. I think I’ll be better at it this time. And even if little more than my close circle of friends read it then I will be happy enough. I never aimed to make a fortune. Writing has never been about that for me.

I’m not going to promise that I will blog more. I know that those sort of promises can fall flat easily. But I do enjoy it and I quite often it helps me get my thoughts together. And as for finding the next project that is going to take off, perhaps I just need to be a bit more patient.

Writing is Fun

I’ve just started to read a collection of short stories by Ray Bradbury. In the introduction, Bradbury talks about his enjoyment of writing – how the ideas come and take you to a brilliant new place and they spring from your pen and you’ve done it, you’ve created a new world. You can taste this joy when you read Bradbury and the stories I’ve read so far certainly suggest someone who loves the job of being a writer.

I’m not writing this as a review of Bradbury’s book. For a start, I’ve only read about 10 stories so far (and according to my kindle, it’s going to take 160 hours to read the rest of it!). It’s a reflection on some of the things Bradbury says about writing and how I agree with them.

First of all, I quite agree that writing is a really fun thing to do. I love it. I don’t often suffer from writer’s block because I don’t work in a particularly linear fashion so there is always something else to work on or look at until while I wait for ideas to work themselves out. Words are exciting and playing with them can be a delight. There is nothing more satisfying then reading back something and knowing it is good. (of course, there are things that make it less enjoyable. Like the fact that somehow when I opened the most recent copy of Choose Yr future, the chapters were in the wrong order!)

The other thing that Bradbury said that rang true to me was  the fact that he wasn’t completely in control of his narratives. Often it feels like this. You don’t know straightaway how things are going to work out. You have to get to know the characters, chat with them, give them things to do before you can really know how they will feel or react. Sometimes they sneak into the narrative and become important without you really pushing them in that direction, other times they tiptoe away without leaving much of a mark. Sometimes its a surprise to find them gone.

Plans for the Future

Or is it really that time again already. Another year has flown by and I am still no further forward then I was last year. A large part of this was my own fault. Losing files is inexcusable. It took me a while to forgive myself.

I’ve decided that I’m not going to blog every book this year. I got fed up with it towards the end of the year and it was never really what I wanted the blog to be about. It was supposed to be more personal – about my journey as a writer and a person. It has been helpful to do these last few years when I have been going through a lot of personal things and it kept me blogging but now it is time to get back to what this blog was originally for.

I have signed up to do the Eclectic Reader Challenge again and I am looking for another challenge to take the place of the TBR Challenge. I have looked at a few but have not yet made up my mind – any recommendations would be gratefully received.

After the stupidity of losing the final version of Choose Yr Future, it was a while before I could bring myself to rewrite the parts that I had lost. Some of which I had paper copies of but some had been written straight onto the computer so I had to hope that I was getting it right. In the meantime, I was writing but I was working on other projects – the next novel, The Practise of Deception and a number of new short stories.

Now I am at the stage I was at before I lost the file. I have a finished version of Choose Yr Future which has been redrafted and edited. I suppose the next step is beta readers so I need to discover the best way to do that and also the best way to publish. There are a lot of possible platforms for self publishing if I decide to go that way again. Again, any advice would be gratefully received.

 

The Irritation of Lost Files

It hasn’t been a hugely productive summer. That isn’t exactly true. I have written quite a bit but it hasn’t felt like going forward. There’s a good reason for this.

Somehow I managed to lose the most recent version of Choose Yr Future. I’m not sure how as I never delete anything – there must be at least twenty versions of Shattered Reflections still sitting on my hard drive – but gone it is. There are quite a lot of versions of Choose Yr Future too, some claiming to be the final version although none of them were.

It is frustrating – not least because I know it is my fault. I suspect that it was some sort of iCloud mixup because sometimes I do remove things from there but that is usually safe in the knowledge that there is a copy sitting on my hard drive as well. I can’t quite believe I’ve been so careless.

The worst thing about this isn’t the re-writing although that has been annoying. It is the suspicion that what I wrote before was inevitably better than the new version which covers the same ground but with second hand footsteps. Of course, it may be better but as there is no way to check so my pessimistic mind insists that the new version is inferior.

Still it is re-done now and although I now need to read through the whole thing again to ensure that it still makes sense, it is satisfying to have the finished product in front of me. It certainly feels better than the despair of the missing file at the start of the summer.