This blog may seem as if it is fading, my writing my be halting due to work pressures but when something big happens you need to stop and think. For only the second time this year I feel it right to put my work and family aside and write something down. I am talking about the death of one of my heroes. A few days ago author Terry Pratchett passed away. He was a hero to many, a man who stood slightly away from the literary world by choice and produced book after book of gorgeous prose and clever humour. I first heard about Pratchett when I was in Year 5 of Primary School. I tried to read The Carpet People and Truckers, failing miserably at both as my unprepared brain could not comprehend what was on the page. This was not Billy Blue Hat or Roger Red Hat. Some years later, now at secondary school and in Year 9, I decided that I wanted to become a proper reader, I wanted to understand more and tell people of the books I had enjoyed. I had read some Point Horror and moved on to Point Fantasy. These were mainly watered down books doing for children’s fantasy what Mills and Boons does for adult romance. I was a bored, slow reader. Myself and a friend decided we would start reading the Discworld novels and picked up our copies of The Colour of Magic. It was so different, so new. I don’t think I got a lot of the jokes but I laughed a lot. I was still slow but I really enjoyed it, I may have ended up a few books behind my friends but we could all laugh about Rincewind, The Luggage, Two Flower and the librarian that got turned in to a monke…..erm ape. I think the one character that held my interest most was Death, he wasn’t some scary horror character, he had a soul (well maybe not but it felt like he did). His struggle to understand humanity just brought about so many laughs as well as a kind of strange respect. I stopped reading Discworld when I left 6th Form and decided to move on to new authors and try new genres. I had managed sixteen books in those five years which was amazing for me. Even with work begin hectic I can manage to read eight books a year now, that means that Discworld started my improvement in reading ability. Even though I stopped for some time I yearned for the Discworld and two years ago decided to carry on with them, alternating between a Discworld book then a non-Discworld one. Every time I pick one up it feels like visiting an old friend. Yes some are better than others but all are enjoyable and they are so easy to read. Now, though, I see intricate nuances that I missed before.
What is more amazing is that I have only really wanted to write stories in the last five years, before that I was more of a consumer. However, I did dabble in the odd story when I was younger. One of the my first efforts, which never got finished, was a novel entitled Magical Men. It should have been called A Massive Discworld Ripoff as I am Such a Huge Fan. It was terrible but it made me happy and I really thought I was being funny, I wasn’t though. The only comedy I have released thus far is Super Lizard, when I look at the short stories I think about the slapstick and silliness of the Discworld and use that as my yard stick. It is something I aspire to.
I have many people in this world I love, many famous ones I wish to be more like but none have had such an impact as Pratchett. Yes I have waffled on about myself but I think that is the greatest honour I can bestow on the man. He made me want to read, got me turning pages so my vocabulary, speed and understanding increased. He made me want to write, put pen to paper to give other people joy. But more than this, when I write, particularly comedy, it is his work that is the gold standard I want to get to. I can say nothing more than the man has been an inspiration to me and I am incredibly sad to see him go.
Whilst there were many positives to take out of 2014 it was clear that my writing was not one of them. Life, as always, gets in the way and thus I did not produce much in the way of publishable work. This blog was neglected for large periods of time as can be seen by the fact that there were less than a third of posts published last year compared to 2013. To learn from this I intend to set some more realistic writing goals for 2015. One of my issues is that I seem to have many projects on the go at once. I have a lot of short stories and two novels in progress which I constantly lose track of. I think, therefore, I need to focus on a few projects only, rather than flit from one to another. I have decided to do just two simple things in terms of writing…
- I will finish the final story of Super Lizard Returns and have an overall edit, getting the book up for free on Smashwords
- I will write a young adult novel, I will set myself word count targets each month and by the end of the year I will have written (if not quite edited) a novel
These two seem like targets that can fit around my job and family life. I will not go on about being more active on this blog because I don’t think it will happen. What I can do is focus on getting words down, getting projects to a point where they only need to be edited before being published. I have the outline for the final Super Lizard Returns story and a basic plot (with a few holes!) for my novel. I am not going to pick up an existing novel I am going to start from scratch and focus just on that. So there you go, don’t expect much of me on the surface this year but I will be paddling hard below, returning occasionally for a breath of air.
Just a quick post to say that regrettably and with great sadness (I sound like someone has died!) I will not be taking part in NaNoWriMo this year. I have gained a promotion at work, however this is a temporary maternity cover so I get not extra time to complete the work. I had hoped to be ahead of the game over half term but illness has meant I have done little work. For this reason it is clear that I would not complete NaNoWriMo and as such I have decided to opt out this year. I had a novel ready to go as well! I will be supporting other people who are taking on the challenge and wish everyone good luck. I have, however, made two decisions about works in progress though. I wanted to release I can hear your pain for World Book Day 2014 but the short story became bigger than I expected. I have finished the first draft but not had time to edit it. I therefore will edit it so it is available for World Book Day 2015. During November I also intend to write a Super Lizard short so I am at least getting some writing done. Hopefully I can get a few other projects finished or at least move them on over Christmas as I am worried I jump from one to another without finishing anything. You should see some more stuff from me in the New Year. Till then, feel free to read what I have on Wattpad and Smashwords.
By the fact that this post is some 28 days later (I didn’t plan that it just happened and I saw a pun, well sort of a pun) it is clear that the impact of NaNoWriMo was not as strong as I had hoped. I wanted to continue the novel I got to 50,000 words on and have it out before the turn of the year. However, life is busy and I had to put sporting commitments, doing extra stuff for work and general household chores to one side to win NaNo. December meant that I had to pick up, and in many cases catch up, on these areas of my life. Safe to say that I have not seriously put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) since. The first week of my Christmas holidays is almost up and I had expected to be much further ahead. This post may, therefore, seem like an anti-climax or even a waste of time. However, I wanted to put it out there to remind followers that though NaNo is in the back of my mind it is not forgotten. More than that I wanted to remind myself that I promised to get this novel finished and that is what I will do. With a new year fast approaching, it seems the perfect time to remind myself not of the things I have to do but the things I want to do.
Yes it has surprised even me, after a stressful month I appear to have finished with large successes. At the start of November I set two challenges, to raise money for prostate and testicular cancer by growing a moustache and to write a 50,000 word novel. I planned to update regularly but as you can see by looking below this post, I only managed to do two updates here. It seems that everyone in the world knew that I was doing these challenges and thus decided to put on events that would pull me away. From friends visiting to having to work promotional evenings on to weddings, nearly every event possible happened (ok that is a little bit of an exaggeration!). By two weeks through the month the writing was teetering on the edge even if the tash was bushy and bountiful. By three weeks I was never going to complete NaNoWriMo but I had many a sponsor to my name for Movember. But you see, all those people on twitter and the NaNo site said don’t give up, just go for it. So I did. By 10pm on Saturday 3oth November I had written 50,000 words, not necessarily good words but words none the less. What is more interesting is that at the start of the month I thought I might not get the story to that many words as it was a straight adventure novel without too much plot twisting or political intrigue. Now I am looking at a draft of over 50,000 words and I am only about two-thirds through the whole novel. So the next goal is to finish it by Christmas then edit it so it is out by the end of January. But hey, NaNoWriMo was not about a finished product, a polished novel that could hit the shelves of any high street bookstore. The brilliance of it is simply that it gets you to put your writing first, some days you get home and the draw of some random TV show about dancing badgers in leotards gets in the way. But this month I said “NO, I will write,” and that is what I did. So I thank you NaNoWriMo, I thank you those who gave pep talks and I thank you copious amounts of tea because without you I would have four words written down and be moaning about the lack of time to do anything.
Oh yeah, on top of that I wanted £100 for Movember and managed to raise £170. It may have been itching all the way but I made it there too and am now free of all that excessive facial hair. Pretty good all in all. Now I have Christmas to look forward to and the stuffing of my face with chocolate, pastries and fine meats. Suppose I should do some writing and editing as well or The Journey Home won’t be out till 2020 or such like!
It is no lie that I knew this month was going to be hard with family commitments and work on top of two challenges. When I started NaNoWriMo the first week seemed to be so easy, just a hour or two a day and I was on par. But the longer it goes on the harder it gets, I have had two days where I have been so busy that I have written approximately 20 words. Other days when I think I will catch up something comes up and I just get above the 1,700 odd words designated for each day. In fact it is a miracle that I am currently only two days behind. The writing, as well, is not my best, it is a case of getting the words down then worrying about them later. I am happy to say I have managed to develop the storyline and the characters are moving along well, I’m just not sure I have written it in the best way. But hey, let’s be positive. I never thought I would hammer out over twenty-five thousand words in a couple of weeks and I have achieved that (well in just over two weeks). I really want to get this project complete, I am excited to finish and get editing them pop it up on Smashwords and Kindle.
The other challenge this month is going a lot more positively. I have managed to raise over £100 so far and am sporting a stonkingly good, if not disturbing, moustache. It is starting to itch now and I really want to shave it off but I am sure I can survive another twelve days.
The final thing to say is that I had expected to update this blog with my NaNoWriMovember exploits more often but it seems the words I really need to get down are on the story I am writing. So there we go, if you want to follow my progress writing the novel head here, and to sponsor me for Movember head over here. Right, I better run, this is a few hundred words that I should have written in the novel, well not these exact words, oh you know what I mean!