The Dumfries Rain

Having never really edited a first draft before I’m wondering what the first step is going to be. The most likely route I’ll be going down is writing down all my chapters in numerical order with a one sentence line about what happens in each. Then I’ll have a general overview about what happens in the story, what needs fixed and what needs cut all together. The concern I have is that I planned out nineteen chapters but it’s ended up being thirty four.

My other big worry right now is that there are parts in which I’ll expand outwards with. I’ve always been of the impression that you had to cut down when editing. The whole point is that you’re cutting down all the fat.

Yet here I am, with entire sections that are basically ‘something happens here’ that’ll need fleshed out. What I have at the moment is the pencil outline, I’m adding the shades right now.

I have a wrestling article to finish and a game review for a website. After that the battle starts all over again.

In a side note, for those keeping score, I made the fourth attempt at home made sourdough yesterday at it turned out like a Frisbee.

400g flour.

300g of starter

About 300ml of water.

And 5g rock salt

Has given me something that should be thrown as a sport not eaten

Back to attempt number five soon then.

Advertisements
Tagged , , , , ,

Programming Goats

I’ve woken up this morning with a genuine clarity of mind. It has in turn made me feel really good within myself. I think it stems from the first draft being finished last night.

Often during the process of having I writing project on the go I’ll feel guilty about doing the stuff I enjoy. There is always the inner voice asking why I’m not hunched over the keyboard right this very minute. If I want to be a writer so bad and for that to be my main job then why am I not writing with every spare second I have free? It can get really miserable and means that I stress about going places or doing other stuff.

‘I’m getting older and need to crack this writing thing now!’ I will think to myself somehow of the strange belief that every newly published author is below 25.

After writing ‘The End’ last night I made a cup of coffee, laid out some biscuits and watched some wrestling on TV. I’ve done this before over the last eighteen months of this book project but that feeling of this act being frivolous vanished last night. It felt wonderful and probably contributed to the clear headed feeling I had this morning.

I’m off to Manchester this weekend for a Doctor Who fan convention. It’s been booked for a couple of months but I had the usual worry about it beforehand. Thinking about it this morning gave me a much more enjoyable angle on it.

Whilst the book certainly isn’t ‘finished’ it has passed that first major hurdle. Psychologically it’s been more beneficial than I ever thought it would be.

Tagged , , , , ,

551 Days

4th March 2017 to 6th September 2018.

That’s 551 days.

It’s the period of time it has taken me from writing the first word of this book to, five minutes ago, writing ‘The End’ on the final page if the first draft.

It reads horribly, I only did notes for nineteen chapters at the beginning yet seem to have run it up to thirty five, one character changes age halfway through because they were far better being older and the town itself only gets a name from about two thirds in. This is just the beginning of the problems this thing has.

Also this time scale would have been far shorter had I not been plagued with a severe case of not being bothered by it between September last year and February this. I think the initial rush of writing about these characters left me and the stark reality of having to do something with them set in. For many weeks I was avoiding doing anything for fear of having to sort all this out.

But the crucial part is that it exists as a whole project. I’ve partially broken Open Office doing this but I’ll fix that later. For now I have some wrestling articles I really need to write up. The first hurdle is done though and that’s the best feeling.

Tagged , , , , , ,

Empty Arena Boss Fights

The rain helped.

I’m now standing on 54,150 words and there’s probably another chapter to get out of this. Probably one more session will do it but that might have to wait until Thursday when I’m next off work.

I’m in Manchester this weekend so I’d really love to get it all done before then.

The end (of the first draft) is in sight.

Tagged , , , , , , ,

When The Summer Is Over

The Scottish school kids went back for term a couple of weeks ago and the English kids are following them this week. It’s belting down with rain outside so any thoughts of taking another trip out to the coffee shop today are being put on the back burner.

DSC_0539.JPG

The current view from my back window.

So it looks like a good day to write. As I look at the file now I can see that my word count is just shy of 53k so I’m not that far away from finishing what I consider to be a first draft. It’s a terrible read though with half formed ideas suddenly being introduced halfway through without much backing of set up. Once I begin the rewrites and the process of putting those new chapters into Microsoft Word as opposed to Open Office (those keeping track will remember that I broke Open Office spell check about 25,000 words in and it hasn’t returned) I’ll perhaps put some sections up here from both the old version and the new and show what sort of angle I’m going for. It’ll also hopefully detail how much the tone seems to have changed from what I was writing 18 months ago when 4,000 words was a major achievement.

 

Tagged , , , , , ,

The Need For Consistency In The Sourdough Bread Baking Community

My son started secondary school last week. His previous school was about a ten minute walk from our house and we used to walk up together and then walk back in the afternoon. Now he gets a taxi to his new school each day which picks him up outside the house. Whilst this does mean I don’t need to be ready and dressed when he has to go anymore it does mean I can go the whole day without leaving the house. This is not a good thing.

I had planned to do a bit of writing today. Firstly I had a few finishing touches to do to a games review for Orange Bison, a website I have occasional contributions to. Once that was done it would be more on the book. Sitting down to write at 8:30am though, once my son had left, would mean I’d be indoors all day again. I felt I needed a walk out first.

Anybody who thinks the last few entries in this blog have lacked photos is in for a treat right now.

I was on a mission for spelt flour. Hang with me here because I have my reasons. For the last few weeks I’ve been trying to homebake a decent sourdough loaf. I have my starter bubbling away in a jar underneath the stairs and it’s fed each evening (mostly). My first attempt at such a thing resulted using 100g of starter, 394g of white flour (I know, I was following an online recipe) and 8g of salt (yikes!) resulted in something which was flat but actually did taste like sourdough once you got past the salty after taste,

Upping the starter amount to 250g and the flour to 400g (because rounding up is good) yet reducing the salt to 5g meant it rose a certain amount but tasted really bland.

Various recipes online give wildly different instructions.

So I thought maybe adding spelt flour would give it something else at least, mixing it 50/50 with the white flour. The weather was good so I walked to the local shopping centre because there’s a health food shop there. I wasn’t sure if they’d have it but amongst the protein powders and energy bars but I did manage to strike gold.

DSC_0536.JPG

Today will mark the third attempt. These are the things I do when not writing.

Whilst I was at the shopping centre I decided to get a cup of coffee and a cake at 11am because I don’t often get the chance to do this without it being my lunch hour or something.

DSC_0534.JPG

With great foresight I managed to remember to bring a book along with me to read as well. I’m currently a good part of the way through Jim Smallman‘s ‘I’m Sorry, I Love You’ which is a history of professional wrestling. It’s a really good read, well researched yet still accessible. Wrestling fans will understand the title, anybody not in the know will think it’s a bit odd. There was a woman who was on the table opposite me who seemed to be trying to work out, from the picture of a bare chested man on the front, which Mills and Boon novel I was reading.

IMG_20180830_112134.jpg

Then I walked back home past the town shops up the road from my house. I bought a loaf of bread and some steak pie. I got home to realise that I forgot to buy breakfast cereal for tomorrow morning.

Also once I got back home this year’s version of Pro Evolution Soccer is waiting on the doormat. Every year I tell myself I should just not bother with spending money on the latest edition because it’s just a little bit of an improvement. Then they announced that the Scottish Premier League was officially in the 2019 version.

I’m such a sucker.

DSC_0535.JPG

All this took me up to noon when I got started with writing. I’m actually doing quite well with it so I’m glad I trooped out for a jaunt this morning. If I’d have stayed in then I would certainly have got underway earlier but it would have been a bit stop and start as I was trying to find the groove.

Tagged , , , , , ,

The Absolute Certainty Of The End

This last part is a grind. I’ve always had two endings in mind for the story and have made the rather stupid choice of going for neither of them until I got to that part in the writing process and I could sort it out then. Now I’m at that bit I’m really, really regretting that.

One ending I came up with was boring but made sense, the other is the complete opposite. Now I’m actually at the ending I’m kind of trying to bodge together a halfway point between the two and it really isn’t working. I have too many characters in the one place so it all feels like they’re just queing up to say massive chunks of exposition before all trying to kill each other.

There’s a big part of me wanting to go and fix this RIGHT NOW but there’s another part that just wants to get to the end (or at least an ending of sorts) so I can go back to the start and solve everything from there. Considering some of the early chapters were written about eighteen months ago they’ll feel a completely different atmosphere to what I’m writing now.

There’s also the fact I’ll need to transfer all the text into Word from Open Office as this number of words seems to have broken the Open Office spell checker.

 

Tagged , , , , , ,

The Buffalo

I was driving out to the local shopping centre today to pick up some trainers for my son. On the radio there was a broadcast of interviews from the Edinburgh Book Festival. At one point, turning into the car park, I hear this exchange.

“I often feel in your books that you’re trying to evoke a world, a feeling”.

“Yes, I spent a lot of time doing that”.

“You’re also quite good with smells”.

As I’m getting out of the car I become aware I’m ranting to myself. “Isn’t that what all authors do?” I mutter.

I meet eye to eye with the old guy in the car next to me. He’s looking at me with a really confused expression. We exchange ‘Good Mornings’ and go about our day.

Tagged , , , , , ,

Distress Beacons

School holidays are a really hard time to write. As much as I’d love to be blasting out one thousand words stretches each day it’s difficult to do that whilst my son is home. It would really feel like I was ignoring him.

Today we went shopping for second hand videogames (found some bargains too) and also stopped off to buy doughnuts. In less than two weeks he starts secondary school so he’s anxious as all hell right now.

I sat down to write after he had gone to bed but only managed 250 words. Not a great deal but 250 more than I had whilst I was eating a doughnut this morning.

Tagged , , , ,

You’re Gonna Make Me Lonesome When You Go

Chipping away, chipping away.

I’ve not been able to blast the home stretch as much as I would have liked to. There’s been the odd few hundred words here and the one hundred word chunk there. It’s okay though, I’m not feeling it as much of a battle as I was halfway through.

The last few session have got me thinking about myself at the age of thirteen or fourteen. The kid who would sit there in his room with one lamp burning until the early hours of every morning. Every single other person in the house had long since (sensibly) gone to bed and were asleep. I’d be up writing in a pad with a pen in my hand. I didn’t even have a computer or a laptop to edit anything with back then. All the stories I wrote were in ink with single words and paragraphs struck out.

I’d write whilst drinking coffee which was a recent introduction to my life. I’d done work experience in a local library and, upon turning up on the Monday morning, I’d been asked if I wanted a cup of coffee. I recall thinking that rejecting this offer might make me seem awkward so I’d agreed. Having never really had a cup of coffee in my life I wasn’t sure how I preferred it. I essentially said no to every follow up question.

So it arrived black with no sugar.

And I spent the afternoon skipping around the place filing books whilst on a caffeine buzz.

Dear reader, it has remained my one true vice.

I’d write whilst listening to late night talk radio. I loved the sense of danger and the truly strange people that would sometimes be allowed on air. With the internet today everybody who has an opinion can broadcast it within seconds. Back then you might have been speaking on the airwaves rather than tapping on Twitter. I loved how different people spoke and how the conversation flowed. Dave from Cardiff might be convinced there’s a ghost in his kitchen. Jenny from Newcastle would phone in about the aliens again.

Most of all though I’d write whilst nursing the burning desire to ‘be a writer’. At that age I was hopeful I could find a way to get a career out of making up stories. It often crossed my mind that I might have given up on that idea as I got older because it seemed so distant and more than a bit silly.

Fourteen year old me would be happy that thirty seven year old me is far from giving up. He’d be over the moon that there’s nearly a first draft of a book finished.

Every time I sit down at a keyboard I’ll have a smile for that kid.

Because one day we’ll make it.

Tagged , , , , , ,