I really am fed up of editing, at the moment I check my stories myself at least twice, run them through Pro Writing Aid and sometimes get beta readers. That means it takes a long time to get anything ready. As I am a hobbyist writer I cannot afford an editor so it is up to me to do the best I can. I really just want to release my work. To alleviate this frustration I have started a new project entitled ‘Islands of Hope.’ I have had a brief idea for a story in my head for some time but have ignored it due to all my other projects. I am determined to stop flitting from one story to the next and actually get one finished!
Talking to a friend recently I had a great idea, why not release a book as a serial. If I commit to adding to it each week I can edit as I go. It is also exciting because in the world of writing I am a planster but I am going to approach this project as a pantster and just see where it goes. I am not going to give a specific amount I will upload each week just that I will put something up. Using wattpad will allow me to do this and I will notify everyone via twitter, Facebook and on this blog.
So before I go further I suppose I should give you a brief synopsis…
The year is 2145 and the Earth is largely controlled by Princips Ltd who have monopolised by slowly buying up different companies. The rich now live in mega cities whilst the poor dwell in slums. Countries have been reassigned as numbers and there are only a few independent states left. The one thing you do not do is cross Princips Ltd, break the law and you can be jailed or even killed. When Kira steals some bread for her starving mother she is caught and put up for slavery. Her new master is known for being brutal but reputations are not always what they seem, especially when you are taken to one of the most beautiful islands in the world, a far cry from the deprivation of the slums or bright lights of the city.
So there it is, not particularly original but should be a lot of fun. The first chapter is now up on wattpad and I will be updating something (maybe a whole chapter, maybe just a paragraph or two) every Saturday. You will also notice there is no cover, haven’t got around to that yet but it will come.
My only real concern about the project is that it will distract from my other writing and getting a full novel released with take even longer. Oh well, at least it will appease me for a bit. Keep checking back on Saturdays for updates. Oh yeah, you can read it by going here.
It is about half way through the year so I thought I would do an update on where I am with writing, not that it is really interesting. It may seem like I am not releasing much other than the odd poem or piece of flash fiction, probably because that is true. However, despite my apparent lack of writing I am actually working harder than ever to get things ready. Yes work is hectic and yes I do have two small children but I have my phone at my side and a lot of the time it is in my hand so I can edit. This is really starting to annoy my wife who just wants to have a conversation with me! That and the fact I have recently got a Nintendo Switch and Call of the Wild means I am no more than an enigma at the moment!
Right, on to specifics. Firstly, if you did not know already, I have finished editing ‘A Close Shave with Destiny.’ It is now with my beta readers, I have three but they are not professional editors or beta readers for a living so are doing me a favour. They also have busy lives so feedback is coming in slowly. When they have read it and final changes made it will be published through CreateSpace and on Kindle.
The novel I wrote for NaNoWriMo, ‘The Fifth Coin,’ is at the editing stage. I am about two-thirds through my first pass and am pretty happy at the moment. My new plan is to finish the editing then send it to a few publishers. When I get the obligatory rejection letters I will go ahead and publish it myself.
I have an idea for a children’s novel too but at the moment I am using all my willpower not to start it. Too many of my projects are half done before I flit onto the next thing. I am determined to get some writing finished so am focusing on editing before moving on. That said I do have ideas for more flash fiction to be included in ‘The First Flash of Hope.’ I am holding off on those as well until my first pass of ‘The Fifth Coin’ is complete then I can do a flash fiction or two before going on to stage 2 of editing my novel.
So there you go, I am still writing and I am being productive. With summer holidays coming soon I may even become more productive (although I will be spending most of it with the kids!). Just hang in there, I will be releasing stuff soon enough, I promise.
I love the fact that people find inspiration in the strangest of places. Recently I won NaNoWriMo (as if you could not tell!) and in the dark times my inspiration came from the strangest place. I headed back to my homeland of Guernsey to visit family just before NaNo started. As it was the first time some of my family were meeting my six month old daughter I got showered with gifts, well they were all for her or her three year old brother! One of the gifts was a pink bear that played music, I have since searched on the Internet to find out is it the Chicco First Dreams Baby Bear. There is a blue and pink version, we have pink but that adds nothing to the story! The bear projects stars, that change colour, onto the ceiling and plays classical music. We put it on each night when we rock my daughter to sleep. Not that inspirational at the moment but something magical happened and I did not realise it at first. There was one tune, a soft melody that made me think of sadness but with hope. It was not until about a week into NaNo that I realised it was creating images in my head, these images were ones from the novel I was writing but it was more than that, it was like I was sat waiting for my wife to start a DVD. There was the main menu playing this tune and on the screen were parts of my story playing out like a move. Each night it seemed to be about what I had just written or what I was about to write. That bear, that melodic tune got me out of a few sticky situations, when I did not know how to link two sections of the book together or how a certain character would react to a situation. As soon as it came on, and still now as I finish the novel I started for NaNoWriMo, I wanted to write, I had the itch, I had the ideas. I just had to get my daughter to sleep first!
The only frustrating thing is that I do not know what the song is called and I can not find anywhere on the web that tells you. I am not going to sift through every classic song to find it. One thing I do know is that if my novel ever becomes a film and we are about to release a DVD (probably will all be blu-ray by then!) I will want that song as the tune on the menu. I can see it now, sat in a meeting about the movie with a child’s pink bear blurting out songs till we get to the right one. “That one,” I’ll shout, “that’s the menu song!” Suppose I better stop dreaming and finish writing the novel then!
So the summer holidays have come to an end and I am officially back at school. Here is the usual update of where I am with writing. As per usual I set out what I wanted to do at the start of the summer and as usual I did not achieve it. That said, I am being more relaxed this year and my only goal was to do some writing. I have managed that. In fact, I would say I have done more writing so far this year than the whole of last year.
I did not manage to finish my moustache story, which is now entitled ‘A Close Shave with Destiny,’ but I did managed to write some. I was hoping for a first draft to be complete but, alas I fell short. Thanks to Google Docs and using my phone I am now over 30,000 words into it so it is clearly going to be a novella. I may well release it for money with the profit going to Movember, we will just see when it is finished.
My other task was to plan a few stories and complete my next picture book. Neither happened. However I am now strongly considering trying NANOWRIMO again. I think by using Google Docs I might manage to complete the challenge this year. No turning on my laptop and having to wait ten minutes for it to load, just grab the phone or tablet.
I also bought a big pad, some pencils and a how to draw book with the intention of drawing my own covers. I cannot draw so it is safe to say my covers will probably still be poor. Also I have not opened the pad or picked up a pencil over the summer.
All in all I am quite happy with my relaxed approach to writing this year as it has, strangely, made me more productive. So it was not a bad summer overall. Oh yeah, I wrote a bad poem about finding the first word for a section of a story as well, bonus!
Now the summer holidays have come I am tasking myself with writing for at least ten minutes each day so I can get something out before the end of August. Sometimes I find, like most writers, that I just need to get the first word right to allow my writing to flow. I know what I want to put down but cannot always start. For some reason today I felt like writing a poem and thought this writing conundrum was a worthy topic. Unlike the ideas behind the poem the actual writing of the poem flowed and I was able to produce it quickly. I tried to get symbolism in there rather than focusing on rhyming like I have with most of my other poems, you can not only tell this by the metaphors but the fact it does not rhyme at all! For once I feel like I did a good job and am rather proud of myself, a little bit smug you could say! You can read the poem on wattpad or take a gander below…
The First Word
Shaking, trembling, the perspiration falls
I have so much to say
So much to give to the world
Like a torrid ocean my mind swirls
I know where this will go
I just need to find its hand
So I can lead it to its destination
But alas it blocks my path
My achilles heel
My dark side
My inner demon
A vast land stretches before me
But I am stuck behind a wall
Peering through the bars of a gate
If only I could get the key
Turn the lock and be allowed to run free
I look, I stare but all is bare
As I fumble in the undergrowth
I find what I am looking for
Cold metal on my sweaty palms
But there are more and more
Some card shaped
But which is right for me?
The land changes as I move each one close to the gate
It turns to fire, then ice, then sand
All will work, but only one is right
Which I pick could shape my destiny
Keep me flowing through this land
Carving out a channel through the rolling hills
Until the next wall appears and I must choose again
I use the first key I saw
Poke a toe out, the grass feels rough
It is like thorns pressing into my foot
I pull back in pain
Maybe the plastic one will do
I try again but this time I feel water
It is cold, ice cold but does not feel bad
What is that? Swimming there?
Sharp teeth, dark eyes, wide jaws
I retreat again, to the safety of this place
Behind the wall, waiting for the inspiration to come
Waiting for the right choice to be made
I search some more, there are keys
Some hang from trees, pretty and ornate
Some are deep in the ground, covered in dirt
Some give an aura of hope
Some tell of despair
And so this will go on and on
Find a key, try the lock
Taste the air and feel the ground
I will keep going
I will find the right path
I will be able to run free
But I cannot think of that now
Now I need to hunt
Now I need to search
Now I need to find my first word
It appears that setting no goals has somehow improved my ability to write, I have written more so far this year than I think I had at the same point in the previous two years. One reason for this is joining a book club (which I talked about in a previous post), another is the lack of pressure on myself and I feel a third is now having a tablet. Using the Writer app on android means I can quickly pick up my tablet and write a few lines in a spare five minutes, I don’t have to turn my laptop on and wait an age for it to boot up in which time I have lost motivation. In fact I am writing this on my tablet at the present moment. Another bonus of the app is that I can write on the go. My car broke last week and I wrote most of a short story on the train over two days of commuting, quite fantastic really.
Anyway, back to the point of the post, where I am at with writing. I am a little behind where I thought I would be with the moustache story but that is not to do with being unmotivated. Instead I have been working on a story for my school. The plan is for me to start the story then students will finish it off, all in the name of getting kids to write. Since starting my new job I have realised that the Librarian and myself both share a love of books and writing. We are working on a school based murder mystery as well as the story. Unfortunately, as these are for my school they will not be released to the general public although it is an exciting time for me.
Outside of school writing I will continue to work on the moustache story and then plan to start on my first young adult novel. Since I realised that The Last Human was not going to work I have a new, much more exciting idea and am starting to get a plan together. Basically, things are looking good. A time scale? I have decided not to commit to those anymore!
I started to read A Game of Thrones last year but due to work commitments I have not read a single word in over two months. I have said it before that when time is limited we have to prioritise aspects of our life and for me it was clear that reading and writing were two such things. But then, when we think about it, sometimes we take the easy option and remove those things that we love but we need to think about to achieve. I am starting to realise that reading and writing are two of these things for me. When I have spent a long day teaching, prepared lessons for the next day, cooked tea, put my son to bed and prepared my bag for the next day I feel truly shattered. My first thought is, ‘I wonder if there is anything on TV to crash in front of?’ At this point of the day anything that involves words feels like more of a burden than a joy. That was until I joined a book club at work. One person put out the suggestion of forming a club and eleven of us replied. From talking to some of the other members it seemed that not having enough time to read was an issue and joining the book club was an attempt to alleviate this and force ourselves to read.
So far we have only read one book, ‘We are Called to Rise’ by Laura McBride. The first thing I noted, and you may have done the same thing if you have read any of my work or parts of this blog, was that this was not my kind of book. However, like the open minded person I like to think I am, I went for it! We actually started it over Christmas but the new Star Wars film was out so I re-watched the six previous ones in-between yule tide with the family instead. However, I did start reading it in January. And you know what, it was a truly awful book. Well it was probably a good book to some people but I really did not like it. If you don’t believe me read my Goodreads review! But that was not the point, the point was that I had read something I would never pick up, something I would never even think about opening. More impressively I read it in three weeks and I consider myself a slow reader, one of those that needs to read every word and mull over even minute plot device. Yes, me, the one who spends months on a book read it in less than one! So maybe it was me taking the easy route all along. I was tired most of the time I read that book. It was late at night but I did it and I manage to work just as well as I always do and spend as much time as I always do with my family. But for me the biggest change is that I have started to get excited about writing again. If you have read previous post you will know that I always set myself writing targets that I spectacularly fail with so I set myself the simple target this year of doing some writing and, you know what, I have done some already! I have picked up that Movember story I never finished in time for Movemeber and I have added a few hundred words. Ok that is not much but it is a lot more than before I joined the book club. Even more, I am now inspired to finish it.
There is that saying that great writers read and I truly believe this. I do not believe I am a great writer, far from it, but the process of reading has made me want to write again. I am so pleased I said, ‘yes I want to join.’ So maybe there is something inspiring in this little mundane story for us all, what I would like to say to you is go for it and think about whether you are putting things off because you don’t want to do them or it is the easy option. For me it was clearly the easy option but writing is something I love doing. That said, it is still down the pecking order of things that need to be done but at least it is on my radar again. What’s more, we are now reading ‘Neverwhere’ by Neil Gaiman and that is right up my street!